Apurv Bharadwaj (1T8 + PEY) at Ben Gurion University

Apurv Bharadwaj explaining the concept behind the new method. Imaged on the whiteboard is gravitational lensing.

Apurv Bharadwaj explaining the concept behind the new method he helped develop during his time at Ben Gurion University. Concepts of gravitational lensing are sketched on the whiteboard.

During my summer 2016, I was a research assistant at the Physics Department of Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. There, I was under the supervision of post-doc student, Ido Ben-Dayan. Together, he and I derived a new method of calculating the mean and the variance of the Hubble parameter, which is the outwards expansion rate of the universe. Our method uses time delay distance from gravitational lensing, which is the extra distance light has to travel around a large body of mass as opposed to if it travelled in a straight line.

This experience was absolutely incredible. Initially, I had to teach myself a great deal of cosmology, general relativity, and tensor calculus. It was tedious, but it reminded me what it means to teach oneself and acquire new skills, something I hadn’t done since Kumon (lol). Once I finally acquired enough knowledge, I commenced the work with Ido.

What’s so special about this research is that it’s entirely theoretical and novel. These derivations have never been done before, and to be able to work on these derivations gave me a boost of confidence and ambition. If the paper that Ido and I have worked on gets published, practical researchers at labs across the world might use our method!

Al-Aqsa mosque in the background with the Western Wall in the middleground. The Western Wall is part of the foundation of the First and Second Temples of Jerusalem.

This photo taken by Apurv during his time in Israel shows Al-Aqsa mosque in the background with the Western Wall in the middleground.

Other than doing research, I made many friends, including but not limited to: Palestinians, Spaniards, a Portuguese, Italians, French, Swedes, Germans, Mexicans, Russians, Israelis, Americans, and other Canadians. We cooked for each other, travelled, participated in Israeli traditions such as Shabbat, and overall had a joyous time. I stayed in the small town of Be’er Sheva (Well 7) and travelled to Tel-Aviv and Jaffa, Hermon Mountain, Lake Galilee and the sulphur springs at the Jordanian border, the Dead Sea, and Jerusalem.

My favourite place by far was the Old City of Jerusalem. That city is a relic of human history, with structures dating back to before Babylonian times, such as the Western Wall. Sights such as these kept me in awe. I will definitely visit Israel again, for both pleasure and business.