Gravitational Waves

The idea of gravitational waves is not new, it came around a hundred years ago from Einstein, but still we don’t have the direct detection of gravitational waves. Although there is no direct detection, we have indirect evidences experimentally which hammers on the intuition that they must exist.

With the noble idea of using laser interferometric detectors, 2 in the USA and 1 in Italy and with the advancement of technology now it is highly probable that we will have the direct detection round the corner. The important question now to ask is, why they are important? If we have a direct detection how will it change the science and by how much? There are many answers to these question but the answer that satisfies me the most and provides me the motivation to work in this field is the following. We can in some approximation only observe 4% of the universe, rest of the universe is “dark”, in the sense that it does not emit electromagnetic radiations, so all the optical, X-Ray, radio etc. telescope are not suited to probe the major chuck of the universe. But we do know that “dark” stuff like black holes, dark matter and dark energy do exist, as we see their gravitational influences, but we have very little idea about what they consist of. Direct detection of gravitational waves will probe this “dark” stuff, which is still rather not known properly. Another equally important aspect of gravitational waves astronomy is that we can have data to test Einstein’s general relativity, in a regime in which it was never tested before, so we might have some real clues for modified/extended theories of gravity. Also there are so many other important aspects of gravitational waves like study of gamma ray bursts, finding new exotic objects, intermediate mass black holes etc.

Marie Curie fellowship provided me the opportunity to work in VIRGO (the name of the detector is also the name of the community doing gravitational waves), which enables me to work in this exciting field more closely and to solve meaningful problems.

In the first two months of my working as a Marie Curie fellow I had some experiences which are great for my scientific career. I am located right now in Gran Sasso Science Institue (GSSI) in L’Aquila, Italy, currently doing some advance coursework in various fields of physics, which provides a nice exposure and also motivates ideas in my field of research. The cohesive environment of GSSI provides the opportunity to interact with other physicists and mathematicians and share ideas, both about science and life. I also had the opportunity to visit two prestigious labs in Italy: the VIRGO detector in Pisa and also the LNGS, the astro particle physics lab, in L’Aquila.

Visit to VIRGO was basically to attend the VIRGO week, in which I became familiar with the current problems and also the status of VIRGO. Pisa is a beautiful city of Tuscany and journey from L’Aquila to Pisa was also very interesting. For me the most beautiful piece of architecture in Pisa is the VIRGO detector, my apologies, I don't have a good sense of aesthetics and, hence, the leaning tower comes second. VIRGO detector is majestic and even though I knew theoretically that it is huge, to see that physically leaves one mesmerised. The environment in the VIRGO is also very calm and peaceful. The sunset is really breathtaking.

I met a cat in VIRGO too and thought that it can be the major sources of glitches in the data.

Recently, starting from January in GSSI we are having our classes in LNGS, and a tour to the underground labs is planned, I am looking forward to it. But this concoction of experimentalist and theorist teaching us various branches of physics is not only enriching the knowledge in physics, but also providing a lesson in how to do better and useful research.

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