Because of concerns around the COVID-19 virus, UC Merced leadership has decided to cancel this year's Pellessier lecture, which had been scheduled for Wednesday, March 11.
The health and safety of the campus community — including supporters and visitors from the community — is UC Merced's utmost priority. This decision was made out of an abundance of caution, and is in line with guidance from county public health officials, federal health agencies and the University of California Office of the President, including recently received guidance on large events.
Physics Professor Gabriela González was scheduled to deliver a lecture entitled "Music of the Universe," about the research she participated in that revealed gravitational waves and proved one of Albert Einstein’s predictions about the universe. She was the global spokesperson for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration which won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics.
The detection of ripples in the fabric of space that reached us from the violent collision of two black holes more than 1 billion years ago is one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs of this generation. The discovery ushered in a new era of astrophysics in which scientists can now “hear” cosmic events using gravitational waves that distort space and time, proving predictions Einstein made nearly 100 years ago.
The annual Vital and Alice Pellissier Distinguished Speaker Series is made possible by a generous gift from the Pellissier family to UC Merced.