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Tamara Davis at University of Queensland

"We basically have a new sense. We can now ‘feel’ the shape of space-time.”

The highlight of the second day was a lecture for NYSF Session B students by University of Queensland (UQ) Professor Tamara Davis about her global collaborations on dark energy and gravitational waves. Professor Davis has scanned huge sections of our night sky to build three-dimensional maps of our observable universe. In their deepest regions, these maps show areas of space so far away that we are seeing light from the first galaxies that ever twinkled into view. But even brain-melting images such as these were dwarfed by the scale of the collaborative efforts Davis has been involved in, with papers listing tens of pages of authors.

As her talk progressed, the frenetic mood of the enthusiastic students dropped into awed silences which melted into laughter, and then rose again to burning excitement as she described the future of cosmology in the age of gravitational waves. “We basically have a new sense. We can now ‘feel’ the shape of space-time.” The effect of her lecture was summed up well by the student who thanked her. “Despite blowing our minds at the beginning, you still managed to keep us engaged for the whole talk."

What is most wonderful to see is that Professor Davis still has an enthusiasm for science to rival even that of the NYSF students. She talks with a clarity and purpose that can only come from a person deeply excited by their work, and this obviously had a profound effect on many of the students, whose insightful questions could have gone on far longer than the 15 minutes allocated. Professor Davis answered each and every question with genuine interest and care, before rushing off to board a flight to Perth for an Ultimate Frisbee tournament.


By George Lavers, NYSF 2010 Alumnus and Communications Intern 2018

NYSF 2018 Session B is supported through funding from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science as part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) – Inspiring a nation of scientists.”