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

Posted By Pamela on Jun 2, 2008 | 1 comment

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.

1 Comment

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

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