Writing feature stories in ACU Today magazine does not always require taking a short course in quantum physics, but with “Making Waves,” we came close.
Writer Sarah Carlson (’06) was a good sport about tackling this feature in the newest issue, which involved tracking down globetrotting Dr. Josh Willis (’97) and putting into layman’s terms a bit of the story behind yet another headline-making science endeavor at Abilene Christian University.
Willis, assistant professor of engineering and physics; Marissa Walker (’11), a Ph.D. student at Louisiana State University; Andrew Miller (’14); and senior Hannah Hamilton are part of the story about a discovery confirming a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 theory of general relativity.
In September 2015, physicists with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detected gravitational waves caused by two black holes colliding. The findings were published in an article in Physical Review Letters. LIGO has labs in Livingston, La., and Hanford, Wash.
Hamilton, the daughter of theology faculty members Dr. Mark Hamilton (90 M.Div.) and Dr. Samjung Kang-Hamilton (’88 M.R.E.), is working with Willis this summer in Germany at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics. She is just one of many ACU undergrads each year who gains valuable and often rare opportunities to do significant research alongside her professors.
Planck won the 1918 Nobel Prize and was the German founder of quantum physics.
Carlson begins ACU Today’s feature story by describing a scene in which Willis and Einstein met – well, sort of – last fall in Los Angeles. Willis’ wife, ACU associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry Dr. Autumn Sutherlin, captured the moment in this image.
Read more here about the latest professors, students and alumni involved in another major discovery: