I always tell my students that LIGO (laser interferometer gravitational wave observatory) is one of humanity’s most stunning achievements. Basically, a group of people set out to measure the unmeasurable. They methodically overcame every source of noise that swamped the signal until gravitational waves were found. Along the way, LIGO scientists have created the most sensitive instrument in existence.
And once you’ve got a nice sensor, everyone wants to use it for their experiments. The latest bunch in the queue are the particle physicists, who think that the exquisite sensitivity of LIGO might make its equipment a good detector for particles.
LIGO knows when you rock out
Before we get to how to turn LIGO into a particle physics detector, let’s quickly look at how LIGO works.