Central New York, Community, Education, Environment, International, Syracuse

Syracuse University Professors Help Make Scientific Breakthrough

By Colleen Callander SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Syracuse University physicists are among the global team of scientists that has made a transformative discovery in the world of astronomy.  In collaboration with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Observatory (LIGO) and the Virgo gravitational-wave detectors, they have discovered the origin of gold and other elements, which has been a long-standing mystery in the universe.

“Today is a golden moment for many sciences,” Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud said.

Peter Saulson, Duncan Brown and Stefan Ballmer are the Syracuse University physics professors and members of the LIGO team.  Brown and Ballmer sat on a Q&A discussion panel Monday morning at the press conference in Syracuse, while Saulson was in Washington, D.C., for the National Press Club event.

Just days before the solar eclipse in August, the Syracuse physicists witnessed the gravitational waves after two massive neutron stars collided in space.  The afterglow that resulted from the collision signified the creation of gold.

“This helps us learn about where we came from, and where our planet came from,” Brown said.

The creation of these materials, including gold, platinum, uranium and other heavy elements, has been stumping scientists for more than 60 years.  They have suspected that they originated from colliding neutron stars, and now that these scientists have visual proof, the dispute is settled.

“This will have impact on technology we use today and 100 years from now,” Brown said.

Local high school students interested in pursuing careers in science attended the press conference.  A 2017 Syracuse University alumnus and scientist, Jaysin Lord, spoke to them about the importance of persistence during research and experiments.

“There are so many things out there that we have yet to discover,” he said. “Most of your experiments are going to fail, but you must be inspired to continue.”

Lord reminded the young scientists that curiosity and courage are keys to success in the field.


A live feed from the National Press Club event in Washington D.C. was streamed before the panel discussion. (c) 2017 Colleen Callander

The news conference in Syracuse was held in Schine Student Center's Goldstein Auditorium at Syracuse University. (c) 2017 Colleen Callander