Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
Zachariah B Etienne
Sean T McWilliams
In this dissertation we apply techniques of numerical analysis to current questions related to understanding gravity. The first question is that of sources of gravitational waves: how can we accurately determine the intrinsic physical parameters of a binary system whose late inspiral and merger was detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. In particular, state-of-the-art algorithms for producing theoretical waveforms are as many as three orders of magnitude too slow for timely analysis. We show that direct software optimization produces a two order of magnitude speedup. We also describe documentation efforts undertaken so that the software may be rewritten to enhance both performance and physical realism.
The second question is that of measuring Newton's gravitational constant G. In particular, the results of experiments measuring G have differed by as many as ten standard deviations. Measuring the oscillation frequency of a magnetically-levitated microsphere shows promise for sharpening the value of G, and the system for this measurement was found to accurately measure low-frequency accelerations. As such, this system forms a prototype for a room-temperature, low-mass accelerometer. At the center of the accelerometer and G measurements lies a new image analysis technique we developed for determining the position of the microsphere to 1.6 nm.
Knowles, Tyler D., "Numerical Analysis and Gravity" (2020). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 7560.
Available for download on Thursday, April 29, 2021