Categories: Weekly Space Hangout

Weekly Space Hangout: June 19, 2019 – Corey Gray, Lead Operator at the LIGO Hanford Observatory

Fraser Cain ( / @fcain)
Dr. Kimberly Cartier ( / @AstroKimCartier )
Dr. Morgan Rehnberg ( / @MorganRehnberg &
Dr. Brian Koberlein ( / @BrianKoberlein)

Tonight we are pleased to welcome Corey Gray, Lead Operator at the LIGO Hanford Observatory. Corey earned dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Physics and Applied Mathematics from Humboldt State (part of the California State University.) He joined Caltech and LIGO in 1998 and is a member of the team whose founders were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2017.

In 2015 following the detection of the first gravitational waves by LIGO, Corey, a member of the Siksika Nation (Northern Blackfoot) of Alberta, Canada, identified an opportunity for his mom, Sharon Yellowfly, to translate the upcoming LIGO press release announcing the detection into Blackfoot, an indigenous language. This proved to be particularly challenging since Blackfoot is an agglutinative language (i.e., words are built out of morphemes, small linguistic building blocks,) and many of the scientific and astrohpysical terms used had no direct corresponding word or phrase in Blackfoot. Nevertheless, a full translation was completed by Sharon shortly before the official announcement was made, and since then she has translated an additional five press releases announcing LIGO discoveries.

To learn more about Sharon Yellowfly and her monumental translation effort, visit

You can learn more about Corey here:

as well as on the Humans of LIGO blog:

You can also follow Corey on Facebook (coreygray), Twitter (@QuantumOfSalsa), and Instagram (@corey_m_gray).

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The Weekly Space Hangout is a production of CosmoQuest.

Susie Murph

Susie Murph is the Communications Specialist at CosmoQuest. She also produces Astronomy Cast and the Weekly Space Hangout, and is the former producer of the Parsec Award-winning Guide to Space video series.

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