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Prof Jim Hough

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Jim Hough is a graduate of the University of Glasgow where he became Professor of Experimental Physics in 1986 and is currently the emeritus holder of the Kelvin Chair of Natural Philosophy. JH has been Director of the University's Institute for Gravitational Research from 2000 to 2009, is now CEO of the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance and the initiator and director of the first International Max Planck Partnership worldwide. This partnership, between five Scottish Universities and five Max Planck Institutes in Germany, is centred on Observation and Measurement at the Quantum Limit and is planned to boost the academic and innovative impact of Scottish Physics in the area of quantum measurement and information.
Research interests are centered on laser instrumentation and delicate mechanical systems as applied to Gravitational Wave Detection on ground (GEO 600 in Germany and Advanced LIGO in the USA) and in space (eLISA).
A JILA Fellow in 1983 he was, along with Karsten Danzmann, winner of a Max-Planck research prize in 1991, was elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1991 and to the Royal Society of London in 2003, was awarded the Duddell Prize of the Institute of Physics in 2004 and the Gunning Victoria Prize lectureship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2008. He was elected to Fellowship of the Institute of Physics in 1993 and of the American Physical Society in 2001, and was awarded Fellowship of the International Society for General Relativity and Gravitation in 2010, and Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts in 2012.
For his wide-ranging research and advisory work he was awarded an OBE in the 2013 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

The Search for Gravitational Waves on ground and in space.
Gravitational waves – a prediction of Einstein’s General Relativity – are still among the most elusive signals from far out in the Universe. Over the past decade the laser interferometric detectors LIGO, Virgo and GEO 600 have been commissioned and operated at their design or close to design sensitivity, and the design for a space borne interferometer of very long base-line, eLISA,  has been optimised.  However, in keeping with source strength predictions and, as expected, no gravitational wave signals have been observed as yet. 
Now the ground based detectors are being upgraded and observations will begin again around 2015 with the real expectation that signals from coalescing binary systems will be observed. Such is the confidence, currently, that a new detector is being built in Japan in the Kamioka mine and the third of the LIGO detectors is to be transferred to India, thus creating a truly world-wide network.  On the space side eLISA is a very strong candidate for the next ESA Large Mission.
In this talk I will explain the nature of gravitational waves, why it is scientifically important to observe them, and the challenges in ground and space faced by the experimenters.

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