AAS Day 1: A moment of (not a) discovery

There was sudden burst of “OH WOW” in my heart when in this morning’s press conference Steve Maran announced that he had word that LIGO had discovered a gravitational wave from the crab nebulae. I honestly have always worried if LIGO, with its ground-based nature, could overcome the instabilities of a planet covered in people, and experiencing platechtonics. To work, it has to measure slight changes in the distance a laser beam travels that are only a few hairs in size over many kilometers (the beam bounces down and reflects back 2km or 4km arms). This is H-A-R-D!

So when Steve made the announcement I WOOTed. But… If you read one of the many press releases, you’ll see that in reality, LIGO simply failed to detect a gravitational wave, and placed a limit on the gravitational waves (This is like saying a star is fainter than 6th magnitude because you can’t see it. This means it might also be too faint for the Hubble Space Telescope to see). Steve didn’t totally mis-speak. He was just sucked into the moment. We’ve all had that moment, and I think all of us have a little fire for LIGO somewhere in our heart.

It’s kind of sad. I had hope. Then I didn’t. Sorry if I got any of your hopes up on Twitter.

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One Comment

  1. Freiddie June 2, 2008 at 11:36 pm #

    “Oops, I think you mistyped a page.” How disappointing. I actually saw the “woot” post in your feeds. 🙁

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