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Meeting, ELECTIONS!, and Talk: “The photograph that changed gravity”

November 4, 2019 @ 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm

At the Warren Astronomical Society’s Cranbrook meetings, we spend the first hour or so of the meeting on club business and observing reports, then have two presentations, one short and one full-length.

In November, though, we have our annual elections instead of the short talk! If you’re a member in good standing, or would like to join, please come and VOTE!

Annual Election of Officers:

The Nominating Committee (David Baranski, Jon Blum and Jerry Voorheis) presents these candidates for the WAS Board:

President: Diane Hall
First VP – Speakers: Dale Partin
Second VP – Observatory: Riyad Matti
Treasurer: Mark Jakubisin
Secretary: Glen Wilkins
Outreach: Bob Trembley
Publications: Jonathan Kade

By-Law Change proposal

We will vote on amending our By-Laws to allow for members to serve up to three consecutive one-year terms in a single office, rather than two consecutive one-year terms. The change will not impact any candidates up for election this year. The board has reviewed the proposal and recommends that members vote YES on this proposal.

Main Talk: “The photograph that changed gravity”

by Professor W.J. Llope, Wayne State University

Two days short of one hundred years ago today, the results from a conceptually-simple experiment performed earlier that year were announced. All one had to do in this experiment was take photographs at a specific time and place and then measure some positions off of them with a ruler. This conceptual simplicity, however, was balanced by complications. Travel to the site required months, and there was no guarantee of good weather at the required time and place. The photographs had to be precise, because the effect of interest is very very small. The physicists on the two sides of any good experiment – the experimentalists and theorists – were in this case also on opposing sides of a World War. While the experimental concept was simple, and the execution fraught with roadblocks (and later, some controversy), the goal was to test a new and quite radical theory about the most mysterious of the four fundamental forces – gravity.

As you can probably guess, the experiment was successful, and showed that the Newtonian theory of gravity, which had been solid for ~230 years, was incomplete. This talk is intended for a general audience and will discuss the experimental expeditions that set out from England to Sobral, Brazil and to the island of Principe that managed to photograph the star field behind the total eclipse of the sun on May 29, 1919. These photographs forever changed our view of gravity, and made the theorist that suggested the radical new theory a household name the world around. His name, you can probably also guess.

W.J. (“bill”) Llope, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Physics & Astronomy Department of Wayne State University. His research concentrates on the experimental study of the quark-gluon plasma and the dynamics of relativistic heavy-ion collisions, and the design and fabrication of large detector systems to measure these collisions. He has no significant expertise in astrophysics or gravitational theory, the physical foundation of this talk, but was drawn to a number of fascinating historical and experimental details when reading this paper: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/pdf/10.1098/rsta.1920.0009

After each Cranbrook meeting of the Warren Astronomical Society, a number of Club members go to the Redcoat Tavern (31542 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak, MI 48073) for a snack and/or a drink and informal chat. Guests are also invited to join us there.

Directions: Head south on Woodward. The Redcoat will be on your left, on the east side of Woodward, two blocks north of 13 Mile and just north of Burger King. Make a Michigan left and find parking either in front or the large back lot.

The views expressed in presentations are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent, and should not be attributed to, the Warren Astronomical Society.

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November 4, 2019
7:30 pm - 10:00 pm
Event Category:


Cranbrook Institute of Science
1-27 Institute Way
Bloomfield Hills, US


Warren Astronomical Society

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