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Published on Apr 10, 2012
In 1916 Einstein predicted that dynamical mass distribution generates ripples in the very fabric of spacetime that propagates outwards at the speed of light.
For over two decades B.S. Sathyaprakash (Sathya for his family and friends) is engaged in research to detect these ripples called gravitational waves, from cataclysmic cosmic events such as exploding stars, colliding black holes and the big bang. His personal goal is to observe and understand black holes and gravity using gravitational radiation. He is the head of the gravitational physics group at Cardiff University -- a centre for modelling astronomical sources of gravitational radiation, discovering innovative algorithms to search for this radiation and analyzing data from gravitational-wave detectors using massive computer clusters.
Although there is firm indirect evidence that certain astronomical systems do emit gravitational waves, so far no one has detected them directly. Sathya and his team are part of a worldwide effort, called the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, to detect these elusive waves using kilometer long laser interferometers in the US, Europe and Japan. Recently, Sathya helped develop the science case for building such a detector in India. He has been involved in the European design study of a third generation underground detector with a 30 km baseline called the Einstein Telescope, chairing the group that developed the science case for this ambitious venture.