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Gravity's Shadow The Search for Gravitational Waves

ISBN-10: 0226113787

ISBN-13: 9780226113784

Edition: 2004

Authors: Harry Collins

List price: $58.00
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Description:

According to the theory of relativity, we are constantly bathed in gravitational radiation. When stars explode or collide, a portion of their mass becomes energy that disturbs the very fabric of the space-time continuum like ripples in a pond. But proving the existence of these waves has been difficult; the cosmic shudders are so weak that only the most sensitive instruments can be expected to observe them directly. Fifteen times during the last thirty years scientists have claimed to have detected gravitational waves, but so far none of those claims have survived the scrutiny of the scientific community. Gravity's Shadow chronicles the forty-year effort to detect gravitational waves, while exploring the meaning of scientific knowledge and the nature of expertise.Gravitational wave detection involves recording the collisions, explosions, and trembling of stars and black holes by evaluating the smallest changes ever measured. Because gravitational waves are so faint, their detection will come not in an exuberant moment of discovery but through a chain of inference; for forty years, scientists have debated whether there is anything to detect and whether it has yet been detected. Sociologist Harry Collins has been tracking the progress of this research since 1972, interviewing key scientists and delineating the social process of the science of gravitational waves.Engagingly written and authoritatively comprehensive, Gravity's Shadow explores the people, institutions, and government organizations involved in the detection of gravitational waves. This sociological history will prove essential not only to sociologists and historians of science but to scientists themselves.
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Book details

List price: $58.00
Copyright year: 2004
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 10/1/2004
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 864
Size: 5.75" wide x 8.75" long x 2.25" tall
Weight: 2.640
Language: English

Harry Collins is the Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology and director of the Centre for the Study of Knowledge, Expertise, and Science at Cardiff University, and a fellow of the British Academy.

Preface
Acknowledgments Common Acronyms in Gravitational Wave Research
Introduction Two Kinds of Space-Time
A La Recherche Des Ondes Perdues
The Start of a New Science
From Idea to Experiment
What Are Gravitational Waves?
The First Published
The Reservoir of Doubt
The First Experiments by Others
Joe Weber's Findings Begin to Be Rejected in the Constitutive Forum
Joe Weber Fights Back
The Consensus Is Formed
An Attempt to Break the Regress: The Calibration of Experiments
Forgotten Waves
How Waves Spread
Two New Technologies
The Start of Cryogenics
Nautilus
Nautilus, November 1996 to June 1998
The Spheres
The Start of Interferometry
Caltech Enters the Game
Bar wars
The Science of the Life after Death of Room-Temperature Bars
Scientific Institutions and Life after Death
Room-Temperature Bars and the Policy Regress
Scientific Cultures
Resonant Technology and the National Science Foundation Review
Ripples and Conferences
Three More Conferences and a Funeral
The Downtrodden Masses
The Funding of LIGO and Its Consequences
The Interferometers And The Interferometeers-From Small Science To Big Science
Moving Technology: What Is in a Large Interferometer?
Moving Earth: The Sites
Moving People: From Small Science to Big Science
The Beginning of Coordinated Science
The Drever Affair
The End of the Skunk Works
Regime 3: The Coordinators
Mechanism versus Magic
The 40-Meter Team versus the New Management, Continued
Regime 4 (and 5): The Collaboration
Becoming A New Science
Pooling Data: Prospects and Problems
International Collaboration among the Interferometer Groups
When Is Science? The Meaning of Upper Limits
Science, Scientists, And Sociology
Coming On Air: The Study and Science
Methodology as the Meeting of Two Cultures: The Study, Scientists, and the Public
Final Reflections: The Study and Sociology
Joe Weber: A Personal and Methodological Note 000 Coda: January 2004
Appendices
What Is Small?
Gravitational Waves, Gravitational Radiation, and Gravity Waves: A Note on Terminology
Roger Babson's Essay, "Gravity-Our Enemy Number One"
1 Colonial Cringe
1 The Method
References
Index