August 8th, 2019


It's a kind of magic

"Sufficiently Advanced Technology" for Gravitational Wave Detection
Peter R. Saulson

The science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke wrote, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." While not magical by any means, the technology used to detect gravitational waves starting in 2015 is surely sufficiently advanced to be remarkable by any ordinary standard. That technology was developed over a period of almost six decades; the people who were directly involved numbered in the thousands. In this article, I give an idiosyncratic account of the history, with a focus on the question of how people learned what measurement technology would be "sufficiently advanced" to succeed in detecting gravitational waves.