“It’s Your Generation of Experimenters That Makes Me Look Good!” – An Interview with Kip Thorne

Karan Jani in The Wire:

What was your first reaction when you saw the gravitational-wave event on September 14, 2015 and the whole process which followed until the historic announcement?

ScreenHunter_1946 May. 20 09.04I think it was just one of deep satisfaction, that a dream that Rai Weiss, Ron Drever and Joseph Weber and Vladimir Braginsky and Stan Whitcomb and others had developed and shared so many decades ago that was finally reaching fruition.

In fact, nature turned out to be giving us just what I had expected – I’d expected since the early 1980s that the first thing we would see would be merging blackholes because the distance you can see goes up roughly proportionally with the mass of the binary, and so the volumes are cubed, and that factor would overwhelm the absolute lower event rate for blackhole binaries compared to neutron star binaries. It seemed very likely to me so that’s just what I thought would happen. It’s a big part of how I hoped to sell this project.

To have that come out right was pleasing, to have the strength of the waves be 10-21 – that’s a number we started targeting in 1978. So it all came to pass the way we expected it to, thanks to enormous work by your generation of experimenters. You were the ones who really pulled it off. The way I like to say it is that it’s your generation of experimenters that makes me look good!

More here.