Einstein’s theory of general relativity predicts the existence of gravitational radiation. Since gravity is a weak force, it takes extreme masses and energies to produce a detectable gravitational wave signature. Indirect evidence for the existence of this radiation has been collected using pulsar measurements. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is an experiment designed to directly detect this radiation, and use it to study exotic astrophysical phenomena. To do this, LIGO must measure length changes with a precision of 10-19 meters, less than a thousandth of a proton diameter. In this talk, I will briefly discuss gravitational radiation and its sources, and I will also describe the LIGO detectors and the physics involved in their operation. Finally, I will discuss some of the quantum limits on making this type of precision measurement, and the ways in which LIGO hopes to beat these limits.
No enrollment limit, no advance sign up.
A complete listing of MKI’s IAP offerings for 2015, is available here.
The tour of the LIGO lab following this talk is limited to 10 people with advance sign-up required starting at 1:55 pm in 37-252
Tour prerequisite: Attendance of this talk!