Research News

Astrophysicist explains meaning of the discovery of gravitational waves

On April 16th, Kelly Holley-Bockelmann walked onto the TEDx stage in Nashville to talk about what she calls “the greatest, most profound discovery of our generation” – the first detection of gravitational waves last September – and walked off the stage to a standing ovation.

In her talk, “Spacetime Symphony of Gravitational Waves,” the associate professor of astrophysics at Vanderbilt admits that she and her colleagues cried when they heard the news. Wearing a dress inspired by the detection, what she calls “the ‘it’ dress for lady astrophysicists,” she explains why the gravitational wave detection is “a paradigm-shifting discovery.” She also leads the audience in a dance to explain how the LIGO detector responds to a gravitational wave passing through the Earth.