INDIA LIGO: Accelerating downslope

As LIGO goes up in smoke, Indian Ligonauts buy land for LIGO.

Folks, LIGO INDIA has now moved from the planning stage to the execution stage. Steps are now being taken that would be difficult to reverse. Basically it is now, like, Forward, the Light Brigade!

Here is a recent report that they have started to acquire land:

According to government sources, the Atomic Energy Department has sought for 173.25 hectare land which involves government, private and forest lands. Of this, the Cabinet has sanctioned 40.68 hectares today.

This is most surprising. I will explain. But for this discussion I will completely discount anything the LIGO critics have said. I will follow the official LIGO science.


First, note that in order for India LIGO to be a part of the three-station network, the India instrument has to be exactly identical to the two US instruments. Nothing can be different.

At the time of planning LIGO, the inventor Rainer Weiss very clearly spelled out that the LIGO innards needed to be protected (shielded) from geomagnetic disturbances. Weiss in fact faulted fellow gravitational wave researcher Joseph Weber for ignoring the need for shielding.

But no such shielding was provided for the two US LIGO stations when they were built. The wall of the metal tube is not thick enough to provide electromagnetic shielding of the copious metal structures inside LIGO. There was a lack of communication between scientists and engineers. But they did not want to publicly embarrass themselves by drawing attention to this botch up. So they remained mum and the US LIGO remained faulty.

So India LIGO can either build another faulty LIGO and be identical to US LIGO, or try to rectify the shielding situation and not be identical to US LIGO.

The second option is of course not workable.

They have chosen to do the former. Is that the right joint decision by the scientific community and the government of a nation?

Any good decision analysis would tell you that the correct conclusion should have been to not proceed.


Now comes the issue of timing. The LIGO detector India is getting from US is aleady built, and is sitting in storage. So it must be vintage from at least a few years ago. India LIGO is expected to be operational after 2025.

So is the US going to freeze its design at the current level until 2025 and for many years afterwards so that all three LIGO can be be operated together for several years as a network? It means that the US must not change the LIGO design for the next twenty years, say.

I have read that they are already thinking of upgrades long before 2025:

The current LIGO facilities will run until at least 2020, when the team will argue for major improvements. A cryogenic detector is under consideration. “To be ready for the long term future,” Sigg said, “you have to start thinking now.”.

In that case India will be left holding the bag – with a single-station faulty instrument that is not supported by any other stations.


Of course all this is academic because the LIGO instrument is faulty from the get go – both in concept and in engineering. Why the Indian Ligonauts cannot understand this is now the key issue.

The roots of the problem seem to be that some scientists in India have been promoted in the Indian media as world-class experts (“doyen” is a word that was used) on gravitation theory and instrumentation that they were not. Basically Indian Ligonauts were doing outsourced number-crunching. But these “experts” then convinced the government to go along with them. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was then presented with the well-crafted narrative to rise before the world as a thoroughly modern, visionary leader of man – a champion of futuristic science exploration. And things snowballed from there.

So yes, the Indian LIGO train is barreling downslope towards a precipice. The Indian scientific community has done nothing to stop it when it could be stopped. And now it is too late.

The LIGO community had staked its reputation on getting the 2016 Nobel Prize for physics, the missed nomination deadline notwithstanding. That did not happen. Now they are saying this was because of the missed nomination deadline. Now they are staking their reputation on the 2017 Prize. This time the nominations are being made properly and there will not be any procedural excuses. What will the world conclude if LIGO does not get the 2017 Prize? What will the Indian citizenry conclude about the Rs. 1000 crore installation?


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