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Financial statistical tools - February 29, 2016

EDHEC-Risk Director associated with a major discovery… in astrophysics

Lionel Martellini, Director of EDHEC-Risk Institute and Professor of Finance at EDHEC Business School, is co-signatory of an article due to appear in the prestigious scientific journal, Physical Review Letters, reviewing the outcome of a major discovery made by the international collaboration LIGO/Virgo involving 19 research laboratories and more than 1,000 scientists around the world.

The paper, entitled “Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger”, relates the detection on 14 September, 2015 of a gravitational wave emanating from a binary black hole merger that took place 1.3 billion light years away in a distant galaxy. It represents the first-ever direct detection of a gravitational wave and the first ever direct detection of a signal originating from a black hole. A gravitational wave is a distortion of space-time geometry caused by a powerful change in its content of matter and energy, and which propagates at the speed of light. The existence of gravitational waves, like that of black holes, was predicted in the theory of general relativity. This major discovery represents confirmation of this theory 100 years after it was presented by Albert Einstein. It also paves the way for a new era in astrophysics and cosmology – that of gravitational astronomy – which will provide a means of observing phenomena that are inaccessible via traditional methods based on signals of electromagnetic origin. This discovery was featured in an international press conference held on Thursday 11 February, 2016.

Fascinated by astrophysics since childhood, Lionel Martellini studied astrophysics at the University Paris 6 and the University of Princeton in parallel to his studies in finance. Since 2011, he has been associated with the work of the Artemis laboratory based at the Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur. His contributions, published in the Physical Review D journal, focus on improving methods for detecting and analysing stochastic gravitational-wave backgrounds in a non-Gaussian context based on statistical tools also used in finance. The involvement of a financial researcher in astrophysics once again demonstrates that the scientific approach goes well beyond the traditional boundaries created by the academic community and pleads for a genuine cross-disciplinary approach to research. It also represents just reward for astrophysics following a 30-year period in which it has seen many outstanding students and researchers leave for the financial industry.

More details on Lionel Martellini’s astrophysics work, are available through the following links: