The first detection of gravitational waves from a black hole binary in 2015 was a breakthrough, taking a century to realize, and made possible by the coming together of a remarkable experiment and an exquisite theory complemented by the best in sophisticated data analyses, state of the art computing and the transition to big science. Fascinating milestones include a critical understanding of physical effects of gravitational waves and an improved understanding of the problem of two body motion in general relativity. This talk is a personal broad brush overview of how an unforgiving experiment drove an exquisite theory to create a sophisticated data analysis infrastructure to detect gravitational waves and to decipher their properties.
Bala Iyer is currently Simons Visiting Professor at ICTS-TIFR Bangalore. He completed his BSc, MSc and PhD (1980) from Bombay University. He was in the Raman Research Institute, Bangalore during 1980-2014 and worked on Astrophysical applications of General Relativity, Perturbation methods and Black Holes. Since 1990 he has worked on calculations of Gravitational waves from inspiraling binaries of neutron stars and black holes. He is a Fellow of American Physical Society and International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation. He is the Chair of the IndIGO Consortium from its inception in 2009 and was PI of IndIGO participation in the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) during 2014-19. He was a Member of the Core team for LIGO-India Mega Project Proposal. He is the Chief Editor and Subject Editor on Gravitational Waves for the Online Journal Living Reviews in Relativity published currently by Springer. Bala Iyer has been a Visiting scientist in France, UK, Germany, USA. He has been involved in REAP (Research Education Advancement Program) for B.Sc students at the Bangalore Planetarium for over two decades and Public outreach on General Relativity and Gravitational Waves.