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The University of Southampton

Can you hear black holes collide?

Published: 1 July 2008

A team of gravitational wave researchers from four universities, including the University of Southampton, has been selected to exhibit at the prestigious Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.

Researchers from the University of Southampton have joined forces with colleagues from the universities of Birmingham, Cardiff and Glasgow, designers from Milde Science Communication and associates from the Albert Einstein Institute in Potsdam, Germany, to showcase their exciting work looking at Einstein's general theory of relativity, black holes and gravitational waves.

Called Can you hear black holes collide?, the exhibit focuses on the main ideas behind Einstein's relativistic theory of gravity.

The research has been funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, in the UK, and the Max Planck Gesellschaft, in Germany.

Visitors to the Royal Society show will get the chance to discover more about the research through a series of hands-on exhibits.

They will gain an understanding of how space and time are flexible, find out about black holes, and see a demonstration of the technology used to search for gravitational waves.

Visitors can also experience state-of-the-art supercomputer simulations of colliding black holes and take part in a fun game which tests their skills at listening for black hole signals.

The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition is a premier annual showcase for scientific excellence in the UK, and this year just 23 interactive exhibitors have been selected to display their work.

The show runs from 30 June to 3 July at the Royal Society, Carlton House Terrace, in London.

Professor Nils Andersson, from the University of Southampton's School of Mathematics, said: "It is a great honour to be selected to show our exhibit at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.

"This exhibition presents the best of UK science, engineering and technology and we are delighted that our work investigating the gravitational waves from black holes will feature among the prestigious exhibits on display."

For more information about the Can you hear black holes collide? exhibit go to

For more information on the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition go to

Notes for editors

  • Images are available from Communications on request.

  • About the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition

    The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition is held annually at the Royal Society, the UK's national academy of science. The event is free and open to the public.

    The exhibition runs from Monday, 30 June, to Thursday, 3 July, 2008.

    During the four days of the event, more than 4,000 people are expected to take up the opportunity to explore the exhibition.

    Exhibition opening times:

    Monday, 30 June 6-9pm (late opening)
    Tuesday, 1 July 10am-9pm (late opening)
    Wednesday, 2 July 10am-4.30pm
    Thursday, 3 July 10am-4.30pm

    Last entry is 30 minutes before closing.

    The Royal Society can be found at 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG. The nearest tubes are Piccadilly Circus or Charing Cross.

  • About the University of Southampton

    The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship.

    This is one of the country's top institutions for engineering, computer science and medicine, and home to a range of world-leading research centres, including the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, the Optoelectronics Research Centre, the Centre for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, and the Mountbatten Centre for International Studies.

    We combine academic excellence with an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to research, supporting a culture that engages and challenges students and staff in their pursuit of learning.

    As one of the UK's top ten research universities, we offer first-rate opportunities and facilities for study and research across a wide range of subjects in humanities, health, science and engineering.

    We have over 22,000 students, around 5,000 staff, and an annual turnover in the region of £325 million.

  • For further information

    Liz Gilbride, Communications, University of Southampton,
    Tel: 023 8059 2128, email:

    Bill Hartnett, Press Office, Royal Society,
    Tel: 0207 451 2516, email:

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