Gravitational Waves - Thirty Years Later

Retirement looms in a few weeks, after 30 years plus one day of government service. (Want to see my résumé? Just ask!) Interviews for the next job have already begun. As part of the process one potential employer requested a half-hour briefing on a "technical topic". I decided to talk about the work I did in the late 1970s on astrophysics and general relativity, and what progress has been made in the field. But as I warned the audience at the beginning of the presentation:

A few years ago I started running marathons and ultramarathons. I'm slow, so it takes me a long time. In 2004, during my first 50-miler, a friend who was with me made the mistake of asking me about gravitational waves. We were near mile 17 when I began a version of this talk. About six hours and 25 miles later he dropped out without finishing the race. He blamed blisters and knee pain — but I think it was my lecture. Today we'll see how long you all survive!

For busy people here's the "bottom line up front" summary:

The talk itself generally followed this outline:

Mercifully for my audience, we ran out of time before the end ...

(cf. AsIfSoManyMinutes for 50-miler anecdote, and on the substantive-historical front see RelativityPlusAstrophysics, NiAndMe, PulsarWaves, SoftOutsideCrunchyCenter, SpinningSources, CherishedBeliefs, ...) - ^z - 2011-07-15