On Friday, SciTechDaily wrote about an interesting recent article in Nature:
Improvements to LIGO Detector Will Allow Scientists to ‘Listen’ to Black Holes Forming (SciTechDaily, Daily Galaxy)LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, a large L-shaped instrument to detect the gravitational waves, hasn't seen anything yet but it may change soon and dramatically.
Enhanced sensitivity of the LIGO gravitational wave detector by using squeezed states of light by J. Aasi and 24 co-authors (Nature Photonics: full PDF paper here)
LIGO.org press release
The authors of the new Nature paper – the whole LIGO collaboration – is sending special packets of light, the squeezed states, to one of the LIGO detectors and this modification is improving the sensitivity.
Sometimes it sounds like they are claiming that they are circumventing the Heisenberg uncertainty principle but I hope that they're not being completely silly. They're apparently improving a suboptimal technique that has been used so far.
With the upgrade, the facility could become able to observe black holes that are just being born. The gravitational waves could provide us with completely new "eyes" to see many phenomena in the Universe.
LIGO is now being upgraded to Advanced LIGO, scheduled to be operational in 2014. Correct me if I am wrong but I think that the current usage of the squeezed states isn't completely new but what's new is that the squeezed states are being used for the frequency range 150-300 Hz.
Also, my understanding is that this improvement should be ready when Advanced LIGO begins its operations. That's why another article in The Daily Galaxy claims that the direct detection of the gravitational waves is imminent. It sounds pretty exciting.
Just to be sure, state-of-the-art theorists don't have any realistic doubts about the existence of gravitational waves as predicted by GR. It seems impossible for GR to work in all the situations where it has been tested while failing in the case of the gravitational waves. Also, the discovery of a binary pulsar that generated the 1993 Physics Nobel Prize allowed one to verify that the celestial system is losing the same energy each second (the loss is measured from the accelerating frequency of the orbits) that is carried away by the GR-calculable gravitational waves. This consistency check has actually been repeated using independent celestial objects (which have different parameters) so it's almost certainly not a coincidence. We're only waiting for a direct detection of the waves and the applications of these new "eyes".
Hat tip: Bahamas