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Oral History
Vladimir Braginsky Oral History Interview with Shirley K. Cohen

Resource available online.

This interview is part of the LIGO Interviews, Series I.

Preface to the LIGO Series Interviews: The interview of Vladimir B. Braginsky (1997) was originally done as part of a series of 15 oral histories conducted by the Caltech Archives between 1996 and 2000 on the beginnings of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). Many of those interviews have already been made available in print form with the designation “The LIGO Interviews: Series I.” A second series of interviews was planned to begin after LIGO became operational (August 2002); however, current plans are to undertake Series II after the observatory’s improved version, known as Advanced LIGO, begins operations, which is expected in 2014. Some of the LIGO Series I interviews (with the “Series I” designation dropped) have now been placed online within Caltech’s digital repository, CODA. All Caltech interviews that cover LIGO, either exclusively or in part, will be indexed and keyworded for LIGO to enable online discovery.

The original LIGO partnership was formed between Caltech and MIT. It was from the start the largest and most costly scientific project ever undertaken by Caltech. Today it has expanded into an international endeavor with partners in Europe, Japan, India, and Australia. As of this writing, 760 scientists from 11 countries are participating in the LSC—the LIGO Scientific Collaboration.

ABSTRACT: Interview, January 15, 1997, with Vladimir B. Braginsky, experimental physicist, Moscow State University.

Recalls family background and childhood in the USSR during World War II. Matriculates at Moscow State University 1955, PhD 1959, joins faculty 1969. Work with Y. B. Zel’dovich on search for quarks and detection of gravitational radiation; work with Vitaly Ginzburg on detecting time dependence of gravitational constant. Comments on Andrei Sakharov. Joins Communist Party in Khrushchev era. Science hierarchy in the USSR. Constraints on foreign travel. Meets John A. Wheeler in 1968 at international conference; gives a talk on quantum measurement; invited to visit Princeton, Harvard, University of Maryland, and Caltech, 1970. Discusses Joseph Weber’s gravitational-wave experiment. Admiration for Kip S. Thorne. Early impressions of LIGO project on visits to Caltech in 1981 and 1984. His group at Moscow State University becomes LIGO collaborator. Comments on 1962 work of M. E. Gerzenstein and V. I. Pustovoit in gravitational-wave detection. Visit from Thorne in Moscow, 1977, with invitation to join LIGO. Comments on R. W. P. Drever and Rainer Weiss; on disagreements between Drever and Rochus (Robbie) Vogt, LIGO director 1987-1994. Fairchild Scholar at Caltech, 1990; LIGO’s technical difficulties; project’s disarray. Expresses optimism re LIGO directorship of Barry Barish and potential improvements in LIGO sensitivity. His laboratory’s work on mirror suspension.

ID: 1998-00047
Braginsky, Vladimir (Physicist)

Creation Jan. 15, 1997

MEDIUM: Paper; FORMAT: Book; LENGTH: 24 pages; QUANTITY: 1

Topics: Astronomy, LIGO

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