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Aspen Public Radio is proud to present select lectures, discussions, and conversations from area events and festivals, thanks to a remarkable collection of community partners. Click here to view the full archive. Events are recorded at no cost to the partner and archived here online; select recordings are broadcast on Aspen Public Radio Sunday nights at 7 p.m.

Aspen Center for Physics: Ibrahima Bah

This event was recorded on August 9, 2023 at Aspen Center for Physics during the 2023 Heinz R. Pagels Memorial Lecture Series, in partnership with Aspen Public Radio.

The detection of gravitational-waves from colliding black holes by the LIGO and Virgo observatories is one of the most significant developments in physics and astronomy in the century. Most importantly, they provide the first direct evidence for the existence of black holes in nature. The next couple of decades will see the development of many innovative observational methods for gravitational-waves, and novel ways for exploring the nature and make-up of the universe. This emerging science brings forward many interesting questions in fields ranging from astronomy to fundamental physics. With this new window to the universe, it is exciting to wonder what physics will be discovered, and how they will change and inform our fundamental understanding of gravity.

One of the most intriguing mysteries of physics is the nature of black holes. Their detection via gravitational waves may indicate the existence of many new types of celestial objects. An important scientific goal will be to understand whether they can all be characterized by the standard black hole in general relativity, or require new fundamental physics. Ibrahima also discusses important models that can be used to explore these questions with gravitational-waves science. In particular, he is interested in how they will shed light onto the physics of gravity and quantum gravity.


Ibrahima (Ibou) Bah is an Assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University, working on various topics in the intersection of string theory, holography and quantum field theory. He grew up in Senegal and immigrated to the US (living in New York City) when he was 13. He completed his undergraduate studies in physics and Mathematics at Lafayette College in PA, and his graduate studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2012. After that, Bah joined the string theory groups at IPhT at Saclay, outside of Paris in France, and at University of Southern California for a joint postdoc. He started his second postdoc in 2015 at UCSD as a UC president’s postdoctoral fellow. In January 2017 he joined the faculty of the physics and astronomy Department at Johns Hopkins University.