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Scott Lecture III - On the Unreasonable Effectiveness of post-Newtonian Theory in Gravitational Physics

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http://www.phys.ufl.edu/~cmw/

The first indirect detection of gravitational waves involved a binary system of neutron stars. Within a few years, the first direct detection may also involve binary systems—inspiralling and merging binary neutron stars or black holes. This means that it is essential to understand in full detail the two-body problem in general relativity, a notoriously difficult problem with a long and troubled history. One approach has been the “post-Newtonian approximation”, which treats slow-motion and weak-field conditions. Yet recent results have shown that this approximation remains surprisingly valid well into the relativistic strong-field regime. We will describe the many arenas in which post-Newtonian theory has been unreasonably effective, including binary pulsars, “kicks” imparted to newly formed black holes, and the gravitational wave signal from merging compact binaries.

This talk is part of the Scott Lectures series.

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