GRG18 Day 1
Monday kicked off with a welcome ceremony and then the first plenary talk, by S. Whitcomb on ground based gravitational wave detection. He covered the history of resonant bar detectors and modern interferometers, including LIGO, Geo600, Virgo, TAMA300 and the crygenic CLIO detector. I must confess that I did not realise how many of these experiments there are! In 2005 LIGO reached its target sensitivity. The measure of sensitivity is "binary neutron stars at distance x". For LIGO this is around 15 Mpc and for Virgo 3.6 Mpc. Future plans include upgrades for LIGO (called Advanced LIGO) yielding a 10 times improvement in sensitivity, with a target installation date of 2011. Virgo has 2 phases of advanced planning: the first a 2 times improvement ready for science runs in 2010 and then Advanced Virgo set for installation in 2011. The decision for the former phase is to be made later this year. The GEO experiment should remain operational whilst LIGO and Virgo undergo these plans, allowing for possible supernovae observations. Futuristic plans include a large scale cryogenic telescope in Japan (LCGT), for which the main mirror would be cooled to 10K and the baseline would be 3km; and also new acoustic wave detectors.
The second speaker was Laurent Freidel, who tried to cover as many aspects of LQG as possible in one hour. He began by stating that the key issue here is the question of background independence, and then introduced Hamiltonian quantization before defining spin networks and then discussing spin foam models and group field theory. The last part of the talk included some interesting comments on QFTs on non-commutative spacetimes, or rather the necessity of curving momentum space and using a non-commutative geometry to discuss position operators.
The week is jam packed with talks, so I'll neglect to summarise the excellent talk on Large Stellar Systems and evidence for intermediate mass black holes in globular clusters. All this was before lunch time on Monday! And now I need to grab some food before Penrose's twistor theory talk in the parallel sessions...and there may be some envious eyes looking at me hogging one of only 5 computers in the central lounge.