2020 FSU Dirac Lectures to include Nobel Prize-winning physicist

Rainer Weiss, Weiss, professor emeritus of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a 2017 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics. (Courtesy of News from Science)

The Florida State University Department of Physics will host the 2020 Dirac Lectures virtually from Monday, Oct. 19, through Friday, Oct. 23, including a special public lecture by Rainer Weiss, a 2017 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on gravitational waves.

The FSU Department of Physics organizes the Dirac Lectures to celebrate the memory of Paul Dirac, a late FSU Physics faculty member, namesake of the university’s Dirac Science Library and recipient of the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics. The lectures bring outstanding speakers to FSU to present on notable physics topics.

Organizers are hosting this year’s event online through Zoom due to the coronavirus pandemic. All of the lectures are open to the public, but Weiss’ is specifically geared toward a general audience.

This year’s lecture series is dedicated to the topic of gravitational waves, from their momentous discovery in 2015 to their widespread impact across multiple disciplines, including astrophysics, nuclear and particle physics and cosmology. Weiss, professor emeritus of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will give a special public lecture titled “The Beginning of Gravitational Wave Astronomy: Current State and Some About the Future.”

The gravitational waves that have so far been detected by physicists are ripples in space-time caused by the collision of extremely massive objects such as black holes or neutron stars. Weiss was instrumental in the effort to detect them, which was successful in 2015 when physicists detected the gravitational waves from two black holes that collided 1.3 billion years ago.

“Physicists have believed that gravitational waves existed since Albert Einstein predicted them in 1916, but their detection by any experiment was thought to be nearly impossible,” said FSU Assistant Professor of Physics Kohsaku Tobioka. “Through his work to develop a new measurement tool in the 1970s and years of scientific investigation since then, Professor Weiss made it possible.”

Weiss’ lecture will take place:


7:30 P.M. 

For Zoom information, please visit:

 More information, including dates and times of the other lectures, is available on the Department of Physics’ website.