World Science Scholars

3.5 Detecting Gravitational Waves

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    • The basic design of the interferometer used by LIGO was invented by Albert Michelson and used in a famous experiment that sought to prove the existence of aether. It failed to do so, as we now know that aether does not exist, but the interferometer design was a boon to science and is widely used in many different fields. What do you think about the importance of null or negative results? Should scientists be as strongly encouraged to publish negative results as they are to publish positive findings? Explain your answers.

    • This is relatively easy to answer: As an old saying goes, you best learn from your mistakes – and you’ll never do the same mistake twice. Success is always nice, but in my experience, most knowledge can be gained from failed experiments. When you publish these “flops”, you avoid other people repeating the mistake. So, revealing the technical flaw in the LHC some time ago finally confirmed that no particle can exceed the speed of light.

    • Failures provide valuable info.

    • Yes, every negative result should also be widely explained which will help the other experimental physicists to take the learning and move forward. This will help in saving lot of time and cost.

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