Unlocking the Secrets of the Universe: Gravitational Waves

24 February 2016

Unlocking the Secrets of the Universe: Gravitational Waves

Full Committee Hearing Called by Congressman Lamar Smith, Chairman of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology

WASHINGTON – The Optical Society (OSA) commends Chairman Lamar Smith, (R-Tx) for holding  today’s hearing on gravitational waves and research announced by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO). The LIGO discovery of gravitational waves will impact the physical sciences for years to come and much of this discovery can be attributed to the use of advanced optical systems. This discovery reaffirms the crucial role that optics and photonics play in the most innovative discoveries in science today.

"A huge step in astrophysics was achieved with LIGO thanks to the support of the National Science Foundation,” said Alan Willner, President of The Optical Society and Steering Committee Chairman for the National Photonics Initiative (NPI). “Undoubtedly, future technologies discovered as the fruit of this past investment in optics and photonics will grow businesses, create jobs and revolutionize industries. OSA continues to work with its partners on the National Photonics Initiative to support advances such as cost-effective solar power, high-efficiency lighting, nuclear-threat identification, and higher-resolution medical imaging and treatment that will support the scientific discoveries of tomorrow.”

David Reitze, executive director, LIGO Laboratory and fellow of The Optical Society, said,  “Funding of LIGO and the science behind its operation and research began over forty years ago. This discovery offers new scientific capability to observe and study our universe, much like the advent of electromagnetic astronomy. The LIGO Scientific Collaboration is a group of more than 1000 scientists worldwide who joined together in the search for gravitational waves. This long-term research and discovery will impact, not just Americans, but the human race as a whole."

Optics and photonics generates, controls and detects light to advance manufacturing, robotics, medical imaging, next-generation displays, defense technologies, biometric security, image processing, communications, astronomy and much more. Optics form the backbone of the Internet, guide energy innovation and space exploration. By detecting gravitational waves, the LIGO research team is able to peer into the most energetic events of the universe and explore the cosmos in a completely new way.

About The Optical Society
Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and entrepreneurs who fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership initiatives, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of optics and photonics experts. For more information, visit osa.org/100.

OSA is a founding partner of the National Photonics Initiative. Visit lightourfuture.org.

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