A West End swimming baths is hosting an event with a difference - pool sessions mixing science and music.
‘Swimming with Gravitational Waves’ takes place this Saturday evening at The Arlington Baths Club.
The sessions will bring together physicists from the University of Glasgow, musicians and sonic artists.
Visitors will learn how scientists in the city contributed to the historic first detection of gravitational waves in 2015.
They can get into the pool and enjoy music and sound art which will be audible both above and below the water.
Dr Andrew Spencer, a lecturer at the University of Glasgow’s Institute for Gravitational Research, said: “I’m delighted to be bringing this event to Glasgow, which is home to the UK’s largest gravitational wave research group.
“The ripples on the surface of swimming pools are similar to the ripples in spacetime caused by gravitational waves.
“The event offers attendees a unique opportunity to really feel how sound passes through them and consider how, until very recently, spacetime was regularly ringing with the sounds of massive astronomical events that we just didn’t have the ability to hear.
“Now, thanks to gravitational wave observatories around the world, we can listen to the universe in an entirely new way.”
Leon Trimble, who devised the event, said: “As soon as I heard that gravitational wave detectors ‘listen’ to the universe for signs of ripples in spacetime, and that signals are interpreted as characteristic ‘chirps’, I knew that astrophysics could be the foundation for some fantastic music.
“Swimming with Gravitational Waves fuses music and physics with physical activity in a really unique way.
The event offers attendees a unique opportunity to really feel how sound passes through them and consider how, until very recently, spacetime was regularly ringing with the sounds of massive astronomical events that we just didn’t have the ability to hear.
Dr Andrew Spencer
“I’m excited to be part of it and I’m looking forward to playing at the Arlington Baths Club.”
The event is supported by funding from the Institute of Physics Scotland that aims to promote the role of physics in education, health, the environment, technology, and scientific literacy.
Gravitational waves – ripples in spacetime caused by massive cosmic events like the collision of black holes – were predicted to exist by Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity in 1916.
Researchers at the University of Glasgow played a key role in that historic first detection at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory in 2015.
Glasgow scientists helped to build the delicate mirror suspensions which made the detection possible. Twin sets of mirrors reflect lasers which measure the tiny changes in distance between the mirrors when gravitational waves pass through them – a process known as interferometry.
A version of that interferometry technology is found in audiovisual performer, Leon Trimble’s ‘gravity synth’, which he will play during the event at Arlington Bath Club.
His performance will be followed by a ‘sonic journey’ played through underwater speakers, designed by the developer of the Wet Sounds aquatic sound system, Joel Cahen aka PluronOvarian.
The Swimming with Gravitational Waves event will take place in three sessions beginning at 6:30pm, 7:30pm and 8:30pm on Saturday 18 November.
The first session is family-friendly, with half-price tickets available for children. Attendees are advised to arrive dressed for swimming and to bring towels. The event will take place at the Arlington Baths Club, 61 Arlington Street, Glasgow.