The great gravity wave affair

Gravity waves do one helluva job a-squeezin and a-squashin everything in their path. Plonk a big aluminum bar in the way and gravity waves will squash it in one direction while stretchin it in another. With careful measurements yer should be able to spot this.

In fact in the 1960s, Joseph “Big foot” Weber at the University of Maryland claimed to have done just this although everybody else ignored him

Now a group at CERN in Switzerland have finished analysing the rumblin and a-tremblin of a bar of frozen aluminum called Explorer.

The result? Zip, zilch, zero. They ain’t found nothing.

Which shows that although we all been rootin’ for Weber all these years, he was barkin’ up the wrong tree from the start or just plain barkin’. (Unless there was some extra heavy stuff goin down somewhere in the universe in 1969 and I don’t mean in the Berkeley dorms.)

One thing though. By not seeing nothin, Explorer puts an upper limit on the size of gravity waves and this limit is about the same size as the one determined by the giant laser interferometer LIGO (which ain’t seen gravity waves either).

The difference is that LIGO cost somewhere in the region of $400 million, substantially more than a lump of aluminum.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/0708.4367: All-sky Incoherent Search for Periodic Signals with Explorer 2005 Data

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