A Day for Science and Women

Posted: 22nd February 2016

Science joins all classes together

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February 11th 2016 has become a day of double celebration; it is both the day that gravitational waves were confirmed, and is The International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Here at St Augustine’s Priory we celebrated the day by asking the classes to pick their favourite female scientists – and were rewarded with a plethora of scientists from many different fields. Some of the scientists chosen were Dorothy Hodgkin (who taught Mrs Bennet!), Ada Lovelace, Rosalind Franklin, Emmy Noether, Caroline Herschel, Valentina Tereschkova, and our very own Mrs Harley! Mary Anning was celebrated in a wonderful display created by Lower I and our Sixth Form science students enjoyed learning about the work of different female scientists throughout history.

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In the morning, science feeds on twitter were ablaze with the news that gravitational waves had potentially been discovered, and at 3.30pm we tuned in to the live stream of the news conference and watched with baited breath. David Reitze, executive director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (Ligo) announced shortly afterwards, “We have detected gravitational waves. We did it.”

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This is a phenomenal discovery and the culmination of 100 years of theorising, 50 years of investigation – trial and error – and 25 years of perfecting the laser instruments that would eventually detect a ripple in spacetime which measured one thousandth the diameter of one atomic nucleus. The ripple was caused by the collision of two black holes, which in itself is a phenomenon, as a binary black hole system had never been detected before. The ability to detect gravitational waves has huge implications for how we can observe the universe and its workings in a completely different way outside of the electromagnetic spectrum. Most excitingly, this will be able to give us the ability to see back all the way to the initial moments of the big bang and see what happened!

 

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