Professor Steven Penn of the HWS physics faculty has been asked by the LIGO Science Collaboration to present on their behalf at a meeting of the Swiss Institute of Particle Physics on Friday, April 7 in Lausanne, Switzerland.
LIGO, the Laser Interferometric Gravitational-wave Observatory, is a US-based effort to detect gravitational waves and to observe the universe using these waves. The observatory recently attained its design sensitivity and is now engaged in a yearlong data collection run.
Penn, who is on research leave for the 2005-06 academic year, has just returned from a week at the observatory, and he goes back again in March and in May. He holds a bachelor's and his doctorate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and joined the HWS faculty in 2002.
The observatory is an NSF-supported endeavor to design, build, and operate an astrophysical observatory for the detection and study of gravitational radiation, according to its Web site.
The observatory includes a site in Hanford, Wash., and another in Livingston Parish, Louisiana, both with laser interferometric detector systems.
In addition, he had an article published in the March 2nd issue of “Physics Letters A.”
His article, “Frequency and surface dependence of the mechanical loss in fused silica,” presents a model for the anomalously low mechanical loss in ultrapure fused silica.
This improved understanding of fused silica was a primary motivation for that material being chosen for the test mass mirrors in the next generation of the LIGO gravitational-wave observatories.