Gravity's Shadow: The Search for Gravitational Waves

Gravity's Shadow: The Search for Gravitational Waves

by Harry Collins
     
 

ISBN-10: 0226113779

ISBN-13: 9780226113777

Pub. Date: 09/04/2004

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

According to the theory of relativity, we are constantly bathed in gravitational radiation. When stars explode or collide, a portion of their mass becomes energy that disturbs the very fabric of the space-time continuum like ripples in a pond. But proving the existence of these waves has been difficult; the cosmic shudders are so weak that only the most sensitive

Overview

According to the theory of relativity, we are constantly bathed in gravitational radiation. When stars explode or collide, a portion of their mass becomes energy that disturbs the very fabric of the space-time continuum like ripples in a pond. But proving the existence of these waves has been difficult; the cosmic shudders are so weak that only the most sensitive instruments can be expected to observe them directly. Fifteen times during the last thirty years scientists have claimed to have detected gravitational waves, but so far none of those claims have survived the scrutiny of the scientific community. Gravity's Shadow chronicles the forty-year effort to detect gravitational waves, while exploring the meaning of scientific knowledge and the nature of expertise.

Gravitational wave detection involves recording the collisions, explosions, and trembling of stars and black holes by evaluating the smallest changes ever measured. Because gravitational waves are so faint, their detection will come not in an exuberant moment of discovery but through a chain of inference; for forty years, scientists have debated whether there is anything to detect and whether it has yet been detected. Sociologist Harry Collins has been tracking the progress of this research since 1972, interviewing key scientists and delineating the social process of the science of gravitational waves.

Engagingly written and authoritatively comprehensive, Gravity's Shadow explores the people, institutions, and government organizations involved in the detection of gravitational waves. This sociological history will prove essential not only to sociologists and historians of science but to scientists themselves.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226113777
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
09/04/2004
Edition description:
1
Pages:
864
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 2.50(d)

Table of Contents

Contents
Preface....................xv
Acknowledgments....................xix
Common Acronyms in Gravitational Wave Research....................xxiii
Introduction Two Kinds of Space-Time....................1
PART I A LA RECHERCHE DES ONDES PERDUES....................21
Chapter 1 The Start of a New Science....................23
Chapter 2 From Idea to Experiment....................35
Chapter 3 What Are Gravitational Waves?....................66
Chapter 4 The First Published Results....................74
Chapter 5 The Reservoir of Doubt....................97
Chapter 6 The First Experiments by Others....................116
Chapter 7 Joe Weber's Findings Begin to Be Rejected in the Constitutive Forum....................135
Chapter 8 Joe Weber Fights Back....................142
Chapter 9 The Consensus Is Formed....................154
Chapter 10 An Attempt to Break the Regress: The Calibration of Experiments....................189
Chapter 11 Forgotten Waves....................196
Chapter 12 How Waves Spread....................206
PART II TWO NEW TECHNOLOGIES....................213
Chapter 13 The Start of Cryogenics....................215
Chapter 14 NAUTILUS....................234
Chapter 15 NAUTILUS, November 1996 to June 1998....................254
Chapter 16 The Spheres....................260
Chapter 17 The Start of Interferometry....................265
Chapter 18 Caltech Enters the Game....................284
PART III BAR WARS....................303
Chapter 19 The Science of the Life after Death of Room-Temperature Bars....................305
Chapter 20 Scientific Institutions and Life afterDeath....................329
Chapter 21 Room-Temperature Bars and the Policy Regress....................358
Chapter 22 Scientific Cultures....................392
Chapter 23 Resonant Technology and the National Science Foundation Review....................435
Chapter 24 Ripples and Conferences....................449
Chapter 25 Three More Conferences and a Funeral....................454
Chapter 26 The Downtrodden Masses....................480
Chapter 27 The Funding of LIGO and Its Consequences....................489
PART IV THE INTERFEROMETERS AND THE INTERFEROMETEERS-FROM SMALL SCIENCE TO BIG SCIENCE 513 Chapter 28 Moving Technology: What Is in a Large Interferometer?....................515
Chapter 29 Moving Earth: The Sites....................525
Chapter 30 Moving People: From Small Science to Big Science....................546
Chapter 31 The Beginning of Coordinated Science....................558
Chapter 32 The Drever Affair....................572
Chapter 33 The End of the Skunk Works....................584
Chapter 34 Regime 3: The Coordinators....................592
Chapter 35 Mechanism versus Magic....................603
Chapter 36 The 40-Meter Team versus the New Management, Continued....................636
Chapter 37 Regime 4 (and 5): The Collaboration....................647
PART V BECOMING A NEW SCIENCE....................659
Chapter 38 Pooling Data: Prospects and Problems....................661
Chapter 39 International Collaboration among the Interferometer Groups....................676
Chapter 40 When Is Science? The Meaning of Upper Limits....................698
PART VI SCIENCE, SCIENTISTS, AND SOCIOLOGY....................729
Chapter 41 Coming On Air: The Study and Science....................731
Chapter 42 Methodology as the Meeting of Two Cultures: The Study, Scientists, and the Public....................745
Chapter 43 Final Reflections: The Study and Sociology....................783
Chapter 44 Joe Weber: A Personal and Methodological Note....................800
Coda: March-April 2004....................813
Appendices....................823
Intro.1 What Is Small?....................824
Intro.2 Gravitational Waves, Gravitational Radiation, and Gravity Waves: A Note on Terminology....................826
Intro.3 Roger Babson's Essay, "Gravity-Our Enemy Number One"....................828
III.1 Colonial Cringe....................832
V.1 The Method....................834
References....................837
Index....................855

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