Physics in Perspective

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 42–75 | Cite as

Early Gravity-Wave Detection Experiments, 1960-1975

  • James L. LevineEmail author
Original Article


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.

Joseph Weber gravity waves gravitational radiation general relativity signal processing quadratic detector linear detector signal-to-noise ratio pathological science 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser-Verlag Basel 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IBM Thomas J.Watson Research CenterYorktown HeightsUSA

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