28th November 2014 - Christian Killow (University of Glasgow)
Spaceborne gravitational wave observation: Picometre measurements over gigametre distances.
Following on from our talk on 24th October by Stuart Reid on the problems and progress on the Earthbound detection of gravitational waves came this talk by Christian Killow on the almost insurmountable difficulties of creating detectors in space which should be relatively free from local gravitational influencees, allowing such detectors to span millions of metres compared to the thousands of metres possible from the ground based ones.
Christian showed the latest developments in the design and construction of detectors and described the mechanics and design of equipment to accurately align and bond components. Slides showed the various configurations and alignments of earlier interferometers and how the optimum was finally reached.
We were also shown the proposed time scale for the launch of smaller scale models and the time required on each model before the next and larger model would be tested in space.
Thanks to Christian for this excellent talk which was followed by questions from members.
On a personal note - the final question was "What would be the result of two gravitational events being detected from different areas of space at the same time?"
This caught Christian off balance to the amusement of all. I suggest in future Christian might use that old standard reply so loved of the late Sir Patrick Moore....
"Well, We Don't Really Know"