views updated

Kennefick, Daniel 1965(?)-


Born c. 1965. Education: University College Cork, B.Sc. (first-class honors), 1987, M.Sc., 1989; California Institute of Technology, M.S., 1991, Ph.D., 1997.


Office—Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences, 202 Old Museum Bldg., University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701. E-mail—[email protected]


Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, research associate, 1997-2000; University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, department of physics, visiting assistant professor, 2000, assistant professor, 2004—; California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, senior research fellow, 2001-04; Einstein Papers Project, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, editor, 2004—.


Traveling at the Speed of Thought: Einstein and the Quest for Gravitational Waves, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2007.


Daniel Kennefick graduated from the University College Cork in 1987 with a bachelor of science degree in physics, earning first-class honors.

He continued at Cork, earning his master's degree in physics, then moved on to earn a second master's degree in physics from the California Institute of Technology, followed by a doctorate in physics from that same institution. Over the course of his career, he has served as a research associate at the University of Cardiff in Wales and a senior research fellow at the California Institute of Technology. He has also taught at the University of Arkansas as a visiting assistant professor. Outside of his classroom work, he edits the Einstein Papers Project for the Princeton University Press. Kennefick's primary area of research and academic interest focuses on the physics of gravitational waves. He is also interested in modern physics from both a sociological and a historic perspective. His book, Traveling at the Speed of Thought: Einstein and the Quest for Gravitational Waves, was published by the Princeton University Press in 2007.

Traveling at the Speed of Thought takes a look at the history of knowledge regarding gravitational waves, starting with Einstein's theories back when there was no evidence that gravitational waves even existed. Beyond the question of whether gravitational waves were real, few scientists could agree what their purpose or behavior might be. Kennefick tracks the history of the scientific investigation into these questions, explaining how gravitational waves went from myth and theory to accepted fact. Eventually, scientists not only proved the existence of gravitational waves, but justified them as sufficiently important that they warranted in-depth research that required the financial backing of a number of agencies. Real progress began only after Einstein published his general theory of relativity, as that provided the equations that served as the foundation for any serious research related to gravitational pull. However, because gravitational waves do not behave purely in the ways that were deemed typical for wave movement, that progress was slowed for a time. Kennefick explains not only how Einstein contributed to the advancement of gravitational wave research, but how his general theory of relativity was linked to other scientific puzzles, such as black holes and compact stars—anything where the gravitational pull proved to be a variable. Bernard Schultz, writing for American Scientist, dubbed Kennefick's effort "a revealing story about raw science. Battles of this sort are how science sometimes makes progress, and indeed, from our current vantage point we can see that the progress was enormous."



American Scientist, July 1, 2007, Bernard Schultz, "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On."

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, September 1, 2007, E. Kincanon, review of Traveling at the Speed of Thought: Einstein and the Quest for Gravitational Waves, p. 136.

London Review of Books, February 7, 2008, Frank Close, "Warp Speed," p. 32.

Nature, July 19, 2007, Clifford Will, "Ripples in Relativity," p. 255.


American Scientist Online, (July 16, 2008), author profile.

Arkansas Center for Space & Planetary Sciences Web site, (July 16, 2008), faculty profile.

Physorg Web site, (July 16, 2008), "Catching the Gravitational Wave."

Kennefick, Daniel 1965(?)-

Updated About content Print Article Share Article