Award for AEI scientist

Dr. Barry Wardell to receive the prize with a value of 500 euros from the renowned Institute of Physics for his excellent doctoral thesis.

April 06, 2011

What do problems in financial mathematics and seismology have in common with the calculation of black holes? For their scientifically exact description, the so-called “Green’s functions”, a mathematical tool for the solution of partial differential equations, can be helpful. In his prize-winning thesis, Barry Wardell developed innovative techniques for computer-based calculation of the Green’s functions. The prize will be conferred on 6 April during a conference at the University of Glasgow.

In his doctoral thesis, Barry Wardell has examined what happens when two black holes orbit around each other and ultimately merge into a single black hole. To this end, he focussed on a system made up of two very different black holes: whereas one merely had the same mass as our Sun, the second one is a million times as heavy. Astronomers speculate that these supermassive black holes are in the centre of every galaxy. A mass monster of this type is also sitting in the heart of our Milky Way.

The planned satellite-based gravitational wave detector LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) will be able to directly observe the powerful crashes of black holes. „Using my method, we were able to calculate gravitational waves that were emitted during these extreme energy-rich events,” says Barry Wardell, who is very pleased to receive such an honour.

Dr. Barry Wardell (b. 1982) studied theoretical physics and computer science at University College in Dublin (Ireland). He completed his dissertation in 2009 for which he is now to receive the prize from the Gravitational Physics Group of the Institute of Physics. He has been a postdoctoral scholar since 2009 at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) in the Astrophysical Relativity Department with a focus on the numerical and analytical solutions of Einstein’s field equations for merging black holes.

Green’s functions

“Green’s functions”, named after the English mathematician and physicist George Green (1793-1841), are an important tool for the solution of partial differential equations. They are used, for instance, for the description of black holes which orbit each other. In addition, Green’s functions are often used for other problems, e.g. in the areas of financial mathematics, seismology, quantum field theory in curved space-times, and in quantum gravity.

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