Searching for Gravitational Waves with LIGO (IAP Activity)

Tuesday, January 7,
2:00pm to 2:30pm
Dr. Adam Libson, Postdoctoral Associate, MIT Kavli Institute

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 for this talk.

Please Note: A tour of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) Lab will follow this talk. To take the tour (2:45-4:00pm), you must attend this talk and register for the tour.