The LIGO Petition

We were sent this petition in an email. The link to the original is below it.



Prof. Karsten Danzmann, please answer 3 questions on the measurement of gravitational waves in connection with the LIGO Experiment.

Through the development of the detectors, the Albert Einstein Institute has participated decisively in the LIGO Experiment in the USA, which was recently celebrated in the mass media as having provided sensational proof of gravitational waves, in keeping with the predictions of Albert Einstein.

There are, however, very great doubts in the international scientific community as to whether the measurement accuracy required to register gravitational waves can be achieved at all by current measurement techniques and technology. On 14th Sept. 2015, during a period of approx. 0.2 seconds, the LIGO detectors are supposed to have registered a displacement of the 40 kg mirror of the interferometer by 10^(-18) m due to the pressure of a gravitational wave stemming from the fusion of two black holes at a distance of 1.3 billion light years. Scaled up by a factor of 10^(13), this corresponds to a displacement of the mirror by a hair's breadth (10 microns) in relationship to the distance to the next fixed star (4 light years)!

Yet such a sensational advance in measurement accuracy in the field of laser interferometry, which in its own right would be worthy of a Nobel Prize, has never been previously proven. The highest level of relative precision experimentally proven to date (Mossbauer precision) lies below the given performance of the LIGO detectors by a factor of 1 million! Against this background the scepticism of the experts is both understandable and justified.

The discomfort of the professional community regarding the given precision is further aggravated by the fact that the Albert Einstein Institute persistently refuses to provide the transparency as to the calibration of the measuring equipment that alone can constitute the experimental proof that this precision is at all possible. As can be seen from a citizens' enquiry   in keeping with the German Freedom of Information Act ["Informationsfreiheitsgesetz"]   that I prepared together with the technically qualified physicist Dr. Wolfgang Engelhardt and sent to the Albert Einstein Institute at the beginning of April 2016, there are irregularities or disagreements as to the calibration procedures applied before the undertaking of the measurements. See: 
Bürgeranfrage über das LIGO-Experiment zum Nachweis von Gravitationswellen
[Citizens' Enquiry as to the LIGO Experiment for Proof of Gravitational Waves]

The questions asked were not answered. Instead the addressee, Prof. Karsten Danzmann, Director at the Albert Einstein Institute and co-author of the publication of the LIGO Experiment, attacked the person of Dr. Wolfgang Engelhardt in an unacceptable way, with insults and defamation. He also announced that he would make no further comment on the LIGO Experiment (Document 16 in the above-linked citizens' enquiry).

The citizens and taxpayers should not be compelled to accept that objective and justified questions aimed at clarification of an extremely expensive experiment, that was financed with million of euros from taxpayers' money, may remain unanswered, and that an enquirer can be discredited in this way.

For this reason, on 05.07.2016 I again asked Prof. Karsten Danzmann, in the context of the Freedom of Information Act, to answer the following questions (Document No. 23 in the above-linked citizens' enquiry):

1) In the "Discovery Paper" PRL 116, 061102 (2016) a single calibration method for the LIGO Experiment is described with the sentence: "The detector output is calibrated in strain by measuring its response to test mass motion induced by photon pressure from a modulated calibration laser beam [63]." 
Reference [63] relates to an unpublished e-print and contains no data. Where has the relevant data - or "strain" as a function of "laser power" - been published?

2) In the year 2003 the calibration procedure described was undertaken for the LIGO measuring equipment, whereby the mirror excursion achieved and measured was rather 10^(-15) m than 10^(-18) m. This data is available to the public (cf. the paper by Bruursema: Technical Document LIGO-T030266-00 - D 9/22/03).

Has the calibration method described for the LIGO measuring Equipment been carried out again since 2003 and has an improvement in the precision been documented? When? By which authors? Where is this data?

3) If this calibration method for the LIGO measuring equipment reported in the Discovery Paper has not been repeated since 2003, is it foreseen that this be undertaken subsequently, so as to document that the measured movement of the mirror induced by the gravitational wave GW150914 is produced in the same way by a defined radiation pressure?

Please support this petition, which is aimed at correcting this scientific anomaly and at enforcing the rights of citizens and taxpayers, by adding your signature. Thank you!
Jocelyne Lopez.
Petition available in German and English at:

This petition will be delivered to:

  • Prof. Karsten Danzmann
  • Präsident der Max Planck Gesellschaft
    Prof. Martin Stratmann
  • Bundesministerin für Bildung und Forschung
    Prof. Johanna Wanka, Bundesministerin für Bildung und Forschung,