5th issue available

From the 5th issue

Major milestone: First full lock achieved!
After many years of planning, design, assembly and installation, Advanced LIGO is finally entering integrated testing, where all the subsystems have to be made to work together. This process can be separated into two phases: First, the systems that automatically bring the detector to its operating point and keep it there must be made to work – this is called “locking.” Secondly, we must achieve low noise readout of the differential arm strain, to allow “science mode” data collection.

Life at the Louisiana Site
As a graduate student and at my first postdoc, I worked on table top research and development experiments for future generation detectors, and simulations for interferometer sensing and control. Crazy new ideas for the next generation were very fun to work on, but I also wanted to experience the real large-scale gravitational-wave detectors. The timing of the Advanced LIGO upgrade gave me the chance and the challenge to work on the detector in Livingston, Louisiana and as a postdoc at LSU.

Life after LIGO
During the last decades, the LSC has seen many talented physicists start their careers, complete their PhDs, and go on to form research groups, all while contributing to the global quest for gravitational waves. Lifelong relationships ensue, the collaboration meetings being a great opportunity to catch up. Nonetheless, it is a fact that at the current PhD completion and tenure-track hiring rates, only a minority of all LIGO graduates and post-docs will remain in the academic pipeline and become university professors.

Auxiliary Optics
The Transmission Monitor Suspension Telescope
Of all the fancy suspensions in LIGO, the Transmission Monitor Suspension, or TMS for short, is an odd ball. It is not nice and square looking, like the triple suspensions (used for the mode-cleaner mirrors, beam splitter and the recycling cavity mirrors). Nor is it as complicated and shiny as the quadruple suspensions (used for the large transparent test masses in the arm cavities). During assembly and installation the TMS looks hideous and over-complicated. But when installed in the vacuum and illuminated by the green laser, it looks rather snazzy and spectacular indeed.

A Humboldt Fellow at Stanford
When I heard that the Fall 2014 LVC meeting would be held at Stanford I immediately began looking forward to it. For me an LVC meeting at Stanford means not only attending exciting talks, posters, and break discussions, but also diving into a very happy memory of a one year postdoc time that I spent at Stanford University. I would like to invite you to join me on a journey back in time that, as you will see, comes close to an advertisement for a postdoc time abroad.

LIGO: A passion for understanding - An interview with Kai Staats
Kai Staats is a jack-of-all-trades / master-of-none professional writer and filmmaker. In 2011 he put his house on the market and sold everything he owned in order to capture life on film. His film projects have taken him from Mauna Kea to Africa, from Idaho to Palestine, and... from Hanford to Livingston.

Our World is Three-dimensional
When I get tired of exploring four-dimensional space-time, I like to completely detach from the planet for a while, enjoying space-time’s third dimension and the vistas it provides. I have been fascinated with flight since my childhood, starting with radio-controlled (RC) aircraft. Getting my pilot’s license and then my instructor certificate has provided me with some unique experiences.