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davesmith_au - the lighter side of eu


Taxpayers Duped by Einstein - LIGO still peddling LIES*
(*Ludicrous, Insane Excuses for Spending)
by Dave Smith

August 22, 2009
Since Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916 with his general theory of relativity, scientists have been devising ways of detecting them, but without any success despite throwing huge buckets of money into the search.
Big bang and gravitatinal waves
Theory "predicting" gravitational waves
Credit: NASA
[Click to enlarge]
Scientists working with data from the Laser Interferometry Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and the Virgo Collaboration, have again hailed the non-detection of gravitational waves as a success, when the project has in reality been a dismal failure. Yet we keep funding them...

A recent news item from the University of Florida tells the story...
Gravitational Wave Observatory listens for echoes of universe’s birth
Wednesday, August 19, 2009

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — An investigation by a major scientific group headed by a University of Florida professor has advanced understanding of the early evolution of the universe.

An analysis of data from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory Scientific Collaboration, or LIGO, and the Virgo Collaboration has set the most stringent limits yet on the amount of gravitational waves that could have come from the Big Bang in the gravitational wave frequency band where LIGO can observe. In doing so, scientists have put new constraints on the details of how the universe looked in its earliest moments.

“Gravitational waves are the only way to directly probe the universe at the moment of its birth; they’re absolutely unique in that regard,” said David Reitze, a UF professor of physics and the spokesperson for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. “We simply can’t get this information from any other type of astronomy. This is what makes this result in particular, and gravitational-wave astronomy in general, so exciting.”

The research is set to appear in the Aug. 20 issue of the journal Nature. Seventeen UF faculty members, postdoctoral associates and graduate students join the paper’s authors.
One could be forgiven for thinking that they've found something positive, perhaps even important with this research. It certainly sounds impressive. These four paragraphs are followed by another six with essentially the same kind of advertising, all about how important gravitational waves are and how good it is that we've learned so much from the search so far. THEN, in the 11th paragraph, we are finally given the truth of the matter, which is none-the-less still followed by even more hubris.
The authors of the new paper report that the stochastic background of gravitational waves has not yet been discovered. But the nondiscovery of the background described in the Nature paper already offers its own brand of insight into the universe's earliest history.
[emphasis added]


“Since we have not observed the stochastic background, some of these early-universe models that predict a relatively large stochastic background have been ruled out,” said Vuk Mandic, assistant professor at the University of Minnesota and the head of the group that performed the analysis. “We now know a bit more about parameters that describe the evolution of the universe when it was less than one minute old.”
Now to be perfectly fair, they have actually come up with some useful results. The terminology of "puts constraints on" is spin-speak for "rules out lots of" the existing models. That's right, if a non-detection has put constraints on a model, what they're saying is that for everything they've searched for so far, the models have proved incorrect. Or in all the frequencies they've searched and with the best sensitivities available, they've found nothing, thus "narrowing down" the search parameters.

But what's unsettling about all this is that they've not found any gravitational waves in any of the science runs so far, and are now searching the "noise" - that's right, it's the equivalent of looking at a maltuned TV screen (before digital) and proclaiming that amongst the "black and white ants" on the screen, one can discern an image of a white cat in a snowstorm with its eyes closed...

Let me be quite clear about this. The only "positive" of a null result in an experiment is having ruled out the theory which led to performing the experiment. Once one starts staring at the "noise" one is only constrained by the limits of one's imagination... to say it puts constraints on several models might aid in job security or tenure, but it doesn't assist in confirming anything about the real world, except that their theories of gravitational waves have so far been shown to be incorrect.

One would think that once a null result is obtained time and again, then perhaps our time and money would be better spent doing something else. And in this case, LIGO (and friends) has repeatedly failed to turn up any positive results, yet at least three times now a "non-detection" is lauded as successful!

Back in January 2008 I wrote about LIGO lauding a non-detection as a success, where from the source material came this gem:
... LIGO is now producing scientific results. The nondetection of a signal from GRB070201 ...
[emphasis added]
Then in June of 2008 I had cause to write again, this time they proclaimed that the Crab Pulsar had been "probed" and we had looked into the core of a neutron star. However, the truth was buried further down the release:
They compared the LIGO data with published data about the pulsar's rotation rate from the Jodrell Bank Observatory, looking for a synchronous gravitational-wave signal.

The analysis revealed no signs of gravitational waves ...
[emphasis added]
And now we have this:
... the stochastic background of gravitational waves has not yet been discovered. But the nondiscovery of the background described in the Nature paper already offers its own brand of insight ...
[emphasis added]
Does anyone else recognize a pattern here? Every time they've done some kind of analysis of the data LIGO has produced, they've come up empty-handed. First, they looked at data which should have revealed gravitational waves from GRB070201 - bzzzzzzt. Then they looked at data which should have revealed gravitational waves from the neutron star at the heart of the Crab Nebula - bzzzzzzt. Now, not having found any actual waves, they're looking for the "stochastic background" thereof and guess what? - bzzzzzzt.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Taxpayers, from ALL countries involved in this spendfest, should be jumping up and down, shouting from the rooftops that their money is being squandered and demanding more control over how such money is spent.

Instead of going back to the drawing board, LIGO is looking forward to 2014 when it will be able to look "10 times further" into the universe with their device. To my way of thinking, 10 times zero is still zero, and the money would be better spent on something useful.

More on Einstein's Elusive Gravitational Waves in a previous thunderblog by Stephen J. Crothers.

Dave Smith.
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