PH 1st gravitational physicist to graduate at UP

By Ma. Cristina Arayata

May 28, 2020, 7:17 pm

MANILA --  The University of the Philippines National Institute of Physics (UP-NIP) has announced that one of its graduating students would be the country's first gravitational physicist.

In its social media post on Thursday, and in an article posted on Scientia, UP Diliman College of Science's official student publication on May 26, the university shared that the UP-NIP has approved its student's dissertation on the alternative theories of gravity.

This would make its student, Reginald Christian Bernardo, to unofficially become the country's first homegrown gravitational physicist, it said.

Bernardo has successfully defended his dissertation, "Compact Objects, Cosmologies, and Gravitational Perturbations in Scalar-Tensor Theories of Gravity", via a web conference last March 22, according to UP's social media post.

His dissertation tackled the theories of gravity alternative to Einstein's general theory of relativity (GR).

"He explained that, although GR is successful in describing gravity in our solar system and the Milky Way, the existence of little-understood dark energy and dark matter signify that gravity may not very well be completely described by GR," a part of the article read.

Further, Bernardo has examined perturbations or very small disturbances on black holes described by the scalar-tensor theory.

Sought for a comment, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato dela Peña told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) he is happy with the accomplishments of the UP-NIP.

"It shows that our universities can conduct high-quality research like other universities in the world," he said.

"Frankly I don’t have any idea on the practical application of the study at the moment. It is too theoretical," dela Peña added.

Gravitational physics, he said, is a very specialized field that explores implications of the general theory of relativity, in which gravitation is a consequence of the curvature of space and time.

Dela Peña said that modern research in gravitational physics includes studying applications of numerical relativity, black hole dynamics, sources of gravitational radiation, gravitational collapse, and relativistic astrophysics. (PNA