“This two-watt infrared laser is 1,000 times more powerful than your typical laser-pointer. What happens is the laser light comes out here, and goes through all this fancy stuff to stabilize the light. Then that beam goes through these pipes.” “We're putting a big mirror and a small mirror in here. We'll use the light reflecting between these mirrors to trap the little mirror which will basically reduce motion to almost nothing.” This research will advance the technology in the detectors in Louisiana and Washington
By Lauren Tousignant : Photos by Deanna Smith
Duncan Brown wants to answer the human race’s most thought-provoking questions.
”Everybody wants to know: ‘Where do we come from?’ and ‘Where are we going?,’ which is why physics and astronomy exist,” says Brown, an associate physics professor at Syracuse University. That knowledge could lie in the Laser Interferometer Gravitational- Wave Observatory, a groundbreaking endeavor. Brown likens the science to the idea that humankind has, until now, been walking around with earplugs in. He says the detection of gravitational waves will help explain some of the most complex aspects of the universe, from black holes to the Big Bang theory.
Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (Livingston, Louisiana) “This observatory and its counterpart in Hanford, Washington, have a 4-foot diameter pipe in the shape of an L, with each arm extending 2.5 miles. Imagine a cork in the middle of a pond that will bob up and down if someone were to throw a rock onto the surface. LIGO is the cork, whose technology aims to detect the ripples, which are the gravitational waves.”
University Data Center “Forty computers in each rack, and each computer has a 12-core GPU in it—a graphics processing card you might use for video- gaming—that’ll give you fast rendering and really realistic graphics. We’ve taken these cheap consumer GPU graphic cards and repurposed them to do gravitational wave calculation. As well as using this to do gravitational research, it’s also computing research to design next generation computers.”