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Physics Research and Education
Gordon Research Conference

Relativity and Gravitation: Contemporary Research and Teaching of Einstein's Physics

Dates

June 5-10, 2016

Location

Salve Regina University
Newport, RI

Organizers

Chairs:
Duncan Brown & Dean A. Zollman

Vice Chairs:
Nancy Ruzycki & Dawn C. Meredith

Meeting Description

Albert Einstein published his first paper on gravitation and general relativity 100 years ago. Ten years earlier he had introduced special relativity. Physics, teaching and educational research related to these topics continue to expand both our understanding of nature and our knowledge about how we can teach them to a broad spectrum of students and the general public. Applications and technologies, such as the GPS, have shown that concepts which were thought to be only of academic interest have far reaching consequences that affect and influence the science community, the education of future scientists and engineers, and the general population. Relativity is about to be confronted by new experimental tests as the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) explores the physics of black holes and neutron stars. As a result, Physics Education Researchers have focused some attention on the teaching and learning of relativity (special and general) and gravitation.

The presentations and posters at this conference will describe advances in the fields of relativity, gravitation and educational research on the teaching and learning of these topics. They will also highlight how these fields both excite students and promote a deep understanding of these concepts. Discussions describing new laboratory experiments related to gravity and relativity are particularly welcome. In addition, we seek participants who can discuss: 1) teaching relativity and gravity to introductory-level students, 2) research how students at any level come to understand these topics, 3) critical analysis and reflection on what are the most important ideas to teach to students – both those who will become specialists in relativity or a related field and those who will not, and 4) evaluation of the use of contemporary technology in teaching and learning of gravitation and relativity.

Contributors

Final Meeting Program

Sunday
2:00 pm - 9:00 pmArrival and Check-in
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 7:40 pmWelcome / Introductory Comments by GRC Site Staff
7:40 pm - 9:30 pmContemporary Research and Teaching in Relativity
Discussion Leader: Shane Larson (Adler Planetarium / Northwestern University, USA)
7:40 pm - 8:20 pmMatthew Evans (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA)
"The Discovery of Gravitational Waves by Advanced LIGO"
8:20 pm - 8:30 pmDiscussion
8:30 pm - 9:10 pmEdwin Taylor (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA)
"Introducing General Relativity by Asking, 'What Is It Like to Fall into a Black Hole?'"
9:10 pm - 9:20 pmDiscussion
9:20 pm - 9:30 pmGeneral Discussion
Monday
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pmGravitational Wave Physics and Astronomy
Discussion Leader: Edward Prather (University of Arizona, USA)
9:00 am - 9:40 amChiara Mingarelli (California Institute of Technology, USA)
"Gravitational Waves from Pulsar Timing"
9:40 am - 9:50 amDiscussion
9:50 am - 10:30 amShane Larson (Adler Planetarium / Northwestern University, USA)
"Astrophysics at the Millihertz Crossroads: Gravitational Wave Astronomy from Space"
10:30 am - 10:45 amDiscussion
10:45 am - 11:15 amCoffee Break
11:15 am - 11:55 amNergis Mavalvala (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA)
"Advanced LIGO and Beyond: Quantum Aspects of Gravitational-Wave Detectors"
11:55 am - 12:10 pmDiscussion
12:10 pm - 12:30 pmGeneral Discussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
3:00 pm - 4:00 pmPower Hour
The GRC Power Hour is an optional informal gathering open to all meeting participants. It is designed to help address the challenges women face in science and support the professional growth of women in our communities by providing an open forum for discussion and mentoring.
Organizer: Eleanor Sayre (Kansas State University, USA)
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 9:30 pmCosmology, Relativity, and Gravity in Introductory Physics
Discussion Leader: Dawn Meredith (University of New Hampshire, USA)
7:30 pm - 8:10 pmKim Coble (Chicago State University, USA)
"Using Results from Research on Undergraduate Learning in Cosmology to Build and Test an Interactive Student-Centered Curriculum"
8:10 pm - 8:20 pmDiscussion
8:20 pm - 9:00 pmThomas Moore (Pomona College, USA)
"How to Help Undergraduates 'Own' General Relativity"
9:00 pm - 9:10 pmDiscussion
9:10 pm - 9:30 pmGeneral Discussion
Tuesday
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
8:30 amGroup Photo
9:00 am - 12:30 pmUndergraduate Research and Teaching in Relativity
Discussion Leader: Geoffrey Lovelace (California State University, Fullerton, USA)
9:00 am - 9:40 amThomas Baumgarte (Bowdoin College, USA)
"Exploring Black Holes at a Small Liberal Arts College"
9:40 am - 9:50 amDiscussion
9:50 am - 10:30 amJocelyn Read (California State University, Fullerton, USA)
"Concepts in Gravitational Wave Science: Bringing LIGO into the Undergraduate Curriculum"
10:30 am - 10:45 amDiscussion
10:45 am - 11:15 amCoffee Break
11:15 am - 11:55 amRachel Scherr (Seattle Pacific University, USA)
"Student Understanding of the Nature of Space, Time, and Objects"
11:55 am - 12:10 pmDiscussion
12:10 pm - 12:30 pmGeneral Discussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 9:30 pmPhysics Education Research on Teaching Relativity
Discussion Leader: Dean Zollman (Kansas State University, USA)
7:30 pm - 8:10 pmMark Haugan (Purdue University, USA)
"Engaging Physics Students' Sense of Microscopic Mechanism to Foster Understanding of Relativity"
8:10 pm - 8:20 pmDiscussion
8:20 pm - 9:00 pmEleanor Sayre (Kansas State University, USA)
"Theoretical Models of Student Understanding"
9:00 pm - 9:10 pmDiscussion
9:10 pm - 9:30 pmGeneral Discussion
Wednesday
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pmGeneral Relativity in the Undergraduate Curriculum
Discussion Leader: Nancy Ruzycki (University of Florida, USA)
9:00 am - 9:40 amElisha Huggins (Dartmouth College, USA)
"Relativity in Week 1"
9:40 am - 9:55 amDiscussion
9:55 am - 10:35 amPeter Saulson (Syracuse University, USA)
"Teaching Gravitational Waves: A Lesson in Heuristic (Mis)understanding of How an Interferometer Detects Gravitational Waves"
10:35 am - 10:45 amDiscussion
10:45 am - 11:15 amCoffee Break
11:15 am - 11:55 amTevian Dray (Oregon State University, USA)
"The Geometry of General Relativity"
11:55 am - 12:10 pmDiscussion
12:10 pm - 12:30 pmGeneral Discussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:00 pm - 7:30 pmBusiness Meeting
Nominations for the Next Vice Chair; Fill in Conference Evaluation Forms; Discuss Future Site and Scheduling Preferences; Election of the Next Vice Chair
7:30 pm - 9:30 pmRelativity: A Historical Perspective
Discussion Leader: Charles Holbrow (Massachusetts Institute of Technology / Colgate University, USA)
7:30 pm - 7:45 pmIntroduction by Discussion Leader
7:45 pm - 8:30 pmBeverly Berger (Retired, USA)
"Perspectives on the Milestones and Challenges in Gravitational Physics over the Past Three Decades: How Did We Get to Today?"
8:30 pm - 8:45 pmDiscussion
8:45 pm - 9:05 pmRichard Price (University of Texas at Brownsville, USA)
"The Golden Age of Relativity"
9:05 pm - 9:10 pmDiscussion
9:10 pm - 9:30 pmGeneral Discussion
Thursday
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 12:30 pmFrontiers in Relativity and Cosmology
Discussion Leader: Jax Sanders (Syracuse University, USA)
9:00 am - 9:40 amAbhay Ashtekar (Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos, Pennsylvania State University, USA)
"Theoretical Gravitational Physics and Cosmology"
9:40 am - 9:55 amDiscussion
9:55 am - 10:35 amManuela Campanelli (Rochester Institute of Technology, USA)
"Supercomputing Simulations of Binary Black Hole Mergers"
10:35 am - 10:45 amDiscussion
10:45 am - 11:15 amCoffee Break
11:15 am - 11:55 amTom Giblin (Kenyon College, USA)
"Numerical Cosmology: Tackling a Complex Problem with Creative Solutions"
11:55 am - 12:10 pmDiscussion
12:10 pm - 12:30 pmGeneral Discussion
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 4:00 pmFree Time
4:00 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 9:30 pmGravitation and Relativity in Informal and General Education
Discussion Leader: Duncan Brown (Syracuse University, USA)
7:30 pm - 8:10 pmLynn Cominsky (Sonoma State University, USA)
"Exploring Gravitational Waves in the Classroom"
8:10 pm - 8:20 pmDiscussion
8:20 pm - 9:00 pmEdward Prather (University of Arizona, USA)
"Trying to Reason with Students About General Relativity"
9:00 pm - 9:10 pmDiscussion
9:10 pm - 9:30 pmGeneral Discussion
Friday
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 amDeparture
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