Supriya Ghosh (BS '86)

I had worked on a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) back in 1985 at the NASA JPL branch on Colorado Blvd in Pasadena. As an undergraduate, at the time I did not have much of an understanding of gravity waves. I remember reading a large set of engineering manuals on how the Gravity Wave Observatory would be built. My SURF research was specifically on the outgassing techniques of Stainless Steel 304L, to address the ultra-high vacuum that was necessary to build the 5-mile long tubes. I was fascinated in thinking how a small perturbation within these tubes can detect a gravity wave somewhere within the universe. The use of two separate facilities, one on the West Coast and another on the East Coast also boggled my mind as to how two facilities so far apart can actually be used to amplify the detection of signals.

Anyway, I now work in the Washington DC area as a government contractor, and recently I attended a briefing on the LIGO activities put together by multiple government agencies. I had gotten into a discussion with a number of people, and I had to make them aware that work on gravity wave detection has been happening for a number of decades, especially at Caltech, and the current activities labeled as LIGO actually started a long time ago, and folks should understand that the hopes and dreams of science researchers takes a long time to fulfill.