Published On: Mon, Aug 9th, 2021

Gravitational Waves: Dirac Award for the Italian Alessandra Buonanno

The medal was awarded to Alessandra Buonanno by the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics (Ictp). She is the second woman ever to receive this award

It was the first time that the Dirac award, one of most important international scientific prizes, had been awarded to an Italian researcher: Alessandra Buonanno. She works in Germany at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Potsdam) and was awarded recognition for her theoretical research in the area of gravitational waves detection. The Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics has awarded the medal. Buonanno was the second woman to ever receive the award. Buonanno worked with Thibault-Damour to develop a formalism to reduce general relativity’s two-body problem to one. Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory was founded in 2015 by researchers from numerical relativity (MIGO). It used their models of mathematical relativity and analytic relativity to observe gravitational waves produced by the union a binary-system black holes.

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Alessandra Buonanno heads the Astrophysics and Cosmological Relations division at the British institute Max Planck. After completing a PhD in Physics from the University of Pisa in 2001, Buonanno worked as a researcher at CERN in Geneva, and later in France at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques. She worked at the Laboratory of Astrophysics and Cosmology in Paris (2001), at the University of Maryland ((2005), and was named co-director of Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Potsdam) in 2014.

The research that led to the discovery of gravitational wave properties was recognized by all four physicists. Atish Dabholkar (ICTP director) announced the winners. He said, “This is  an impressive verification of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

Theory of relativity - Wikipedia

This is a remarkable tribute to the incredible power of our theoretical understandings of nature. It used to seem impossible for observational verification. Damour, a French Institute of Higher Scientific Studies (IHES), won the Special Breakthrough Prize in Physics for Physics for the Basis of Gravitational Waves in 2016. Pretorius, director of Princeton Gravity Initiative of American University of Princeton, is the author of the first computer code to simulate the merger of two dark holes. Teukolsky works in the United States at Cornell and the California Institut of Technology.

Buonanno, it was “a wonderful surprise”

It was a marvelous surprise and I wasn’t expecting it. It was a beautiful recognition for my research in gravitational waves and all that I have done over the past 15 years at the University of Maryland. The researcher stated, “It’s a recognition that goes back to research that was the result of decades-long work by many scientists before I and to whom I am very thankful.”

“I am very thankful to Italy for my studies at the University of Pisa. First, for the degree, then for the doctorate. And I think – she said – that the preparation in Italy is still of the highest quality. “. Alessandra Buonanno was born in Cassino in the province Frosinone. She left Italy in January 1997. However, she has kept in touch with research in her country since then. For example, her research on gravitational wave was done in the context American collaboration Ligo. “But we collaborate with many Virgo scientists,” he stated, referring to Cascina, an Italian observatory, which is not far from Pisa. “It is a great privilege to be Italian, and to have achieved results similar to those that helped me get this recognition.”

Buonanno’s theoretical research has enabled us to find gravitational waves. It has been an exciting adventure so far, but we are just at the beginning. One could compare this to what happened when Galileo pointed his telescope at the sky and started the astronomy for electromagnetic waves. Since then, 400 years later, we have continued to discover new astrophysical objects. He observed that there are many centuries of important discoveries in gravitational astronomy.

The next decade will see other instruments in space such as LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) listening to gravitational waves if the Ligo-Virgo observers improve their sensitivity. American Cosmic Explorer. Buonanno concluded, “We would love to discover new objects in astrophysical astronomy” and to look further back in time up to the Big Bang.

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