LIGO in India? You must be kidding … Reply

I was pleasantly surprised that this experiment is slated to come up in India, yes, with a whopping 250 million dollars investment into science in India is perhaps the only 2nd instance of massive science euphoria.

And they are both directly or immediately so, in my field of research, although the first one INO isn’t seeming to be coming of age, while collaborations and Physics and engineering as such have been extensively laid out in the ground, the lab the much coveted international particle physics lab that is, hasn’t come.

(Surprise me, if work has already begun in Madurai, we have been struck by paranoia of environment so much that the elephants have the right of way more than the most innocuous science commies out there, pardon me, that’s a pun, no disrespect to elephants, no offense to commies.)

So in essence they are both the 1000 Crore INR, labs and science action in India, for the very first time, in such large scale effort. Yes, 250 million $ is not a joke in western science spheres. Expect people to flock to India for actual international efforts if these things do come up in time, without red tapes and ban-centric Indian terrain.

INO has basically not garnered much euphoria in the international scene, except as I said above even with much finished ground work in HR, science and engineering. The lab hasn’t come, in more than 10 years its in the “coming soon” avatar.

I will relate two incidents to INO which are a bit personal although actually professional experience. Back in 2007, when I was hanging occasionally in the star-bucks on University city Boulevard at Tech, Prof Raju Raghavan, the then director of neutrino studies there, a short height fellow who you always catch in action, came and advised me to join the neutrino program in India, in INO. “You are so young and India needs you etc”. Back in those times I had a very cowboyish attitude towards everything. I listened and I didn’t listen. “you are sayin?”. Back then John Link had also expressed his intention to have me as his postdoc in his neutrino group at Daya Bay China based reactor based neutrino detector. I would have joined Link, had it not been for my inability to decide what when and how, I was lost. It was definitely not my cowboyish attitude that does me any harm, as opposed to my quiet and self-doubtful responses. He might have though I was not interested, but it was not so. Link was new at Tech, so it was probably beyond him to see my actual laid-back orientation.

So I lost the opportunity with Link and Daya Bay, I was back to India. (I also lost tons of other opportunities, such as dark matter with Columbia University, it was going to be a big dream come true, but didn’t happen, if you know the shear number of times I have tried to fit in somewhere and have failed, you will realize why I am working even harder to just get something done.)

A few years later I had another opportunity to visit the INO work, in Mumbai. So I did have an actual opportunity to fit in somewhere. Yes, Raju Raghavan passed away some years later, when I last met him n 2007. I am not sure its due to his samurai action. (By the way by samurai I mean smoking, because it most definitely kills you, so you can never be a warrior with smoking, a pun I made up, many years before if you check my website.)

I want to honorably mention Prof Naba Mondal director of INO studies at TIFR, for his consideration to have me placed at TIFR for the visitation duration and his very kind way of dealing with the matter and my very good friend Satyanarayana Bheesette a veteran engineer with INO and everything neutrino India has done in last 3-4 decades (yes he was involved in Kolar gold field neutrino ventures) who took me along to the fabulous work TIFR was doing over there. I remember the rainy day in Mumbai when we walked side by side and he explained me the action there in the lab. It was perhaps 2010.

So these were the two incidents I wanted to say, related to INO, I picked up a neutrino detector book from them, and kept it in my studies, with the hope I will be able to read through it. Did try couple times though.

But surprisingly enough I did have a chance to work in LIGO too. I brushed very close in 2009/10 when the position was scrapped due to funding scarcity. I realized it might have been given to a local fellow. Having internationals come to the lab itself takes a sizable chunk of money towards immigration requirements etc. Yes, we are internationals, just in our fantasy.

This is the 2nd experiment India is trying to venture into this time with massive funding as per the linked AIP website news.

LIGO stands for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory.

Of-course you know whats LASER, every kid who watches sci-fi these days, knows whats a laser. But whats a interferometer and whats a gravitational wave?

An interferometer is an arrangement for traversing two different directions by any kind of wave or beam so that any purported asymmetry in the path would show up from the interference pattern. If you are a student of elementary physics you know that interference patterns are caused by path (and therefore phase differences) For that reason you interfere with your own action. You said something an hour ago and now again you are saying it again, there is a change in your attitude, the phase difference of your attitude.

Preferentially we send them along two perpendicular directions. This is akin to the following. I send Ms Ramya from A to B. And A to C is along another direction but equal length. I ask Mr Shamya to go via A to C and return. If there is any disturbances along A to B or A to C it will cause a delay in the path of that fellow who traverses it.

By sending Laser beams along two different arms of this object called an observatory (yes, technically these are telescopes, they catch signal coming from far away cosmic sources) the Physicists want to see if anything is happening in between that causes any sort of delay in the beams. Its possible if there are gravitational waves.

Gravitational waves are ripples caused by the force of gravity, which are perceivable by today’s technology if the sources of gravity are now intense, as intense as that of far away stars. How perceivable? The accompanying changes in length to these wave disturbances are in the length scale of 1 atto-meter which is 1000th times smaller than the size of protons.

The waves are to finally furnish the detail of the accompanying particles by the name Gravitons. Every field of waves are carried forward by their own bunch of particles. When we say electromagnetic force such force fields or waves are carried forward by particles called photons. We say photons are the quanta of light. A fact which was discovered by Einstein’s work of photoelectric effect for which he received his Nobel prize in Physics, a decade and half later to his work.

Einstein had also worked towards establishing the most accurate forms of waves coming from gravitational sources. Other scientists have worked painstakingly to associate with every such force field or wave their corresponding quanta or particle. But so far we have never seen the quanta of the waves of gravitation. Although we know there is a fair chance to spot them, if they exist.

Thus LIGO is the laboratory framework which is trying to establish the reality of these waves as well as quanta.

If this turns out as per our theoretical understanding and even though it doesn’t but we find something astounding as Graviton, we will have a new piece of physics that will change the world for ever. It was a dream of Einstein by the name GUT (or grand unified theory) and its a dream most scientists aware of it are enamored with, the quantum gravity.

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