Early Gravity-Wave Detection Experiments, 1960-1975
- Cite this article as:
- Levine, J.L. Phys. perspect. (2004) 6: 42. doi:10.1007/s00016-003-0179-6
I discuss the experiments of Joseph Weber (1919-2000) of the University of Maryland between 1960 and 1973 that were aimed at the detection of gravity waves. He used throughout a quadratic detector to demodulate his antenna signal, which I analyze and compare to a linear detector.The latter was used by all of the other groups that entered the field. Of these, Richard Garwin and I at IBM were one of the first groups to publish, and I discuss in detail our experiments between 1973 and 1975. I then discuss the experiments that were carried out at Bell Labs-Rochester, Glasgow, Munich-Frascati,Moscow, and Tokyo. I compare the results, all of which were negative, with Weber’s claimed detection of large numbers of gravity-wave events, as many as seven per day. I conclude that these were not in fact gravity waves, but artifacts of his extremely hands-on data-analysis procedures, which I discuss in detail. Finally, I speculate on how this came about.