Part 1 - Discovery

LIGO Mirror System

At this point I pretty much guess you've heard something about the gravity waves. The news were all over the internet, the scientific community... What interests me here is, the system they used for the measurements. Given the nature of the problem, the scientists involved needed a crazy good signal resolution. Considering that they are dealing with optics, and the industry's cutting edge wasn't good enough, that's saying something!

One of my good friends is a Physics graduate student at Harvard, working on optical traps in ultra-cold atom experiments. In a recent conversation, he mentioned the mirror system used for the LIGO measurements, and I just had to share! Everything from mechanical stabilization, to thermal compensation, to using the same mirror material for structural components to achieve the necessary level of error minimization... It's truly a masterful feat of science and engineering!

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