Digital Machining Systems Helps Confirm Einstein’s Theory

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Digital Machining Systems Helps Confirm Einstein’s Theory - Monday, March 21, 2016

Last month a team of scientists said they could hear the sound two black holes made when colliding a billion light-years away.

The sound gives physicists the first evidence of gravitational waves, the ripples in the space-time continuum Einstein predicted in his general theory of relativity.

black hole ligo springs


Digital is proud to have machined the custom vibration isolation springs that helped the scientists isolate their laser devices from ground vibrations. This enabled the researchers’ Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) antennas to pick up the vibrations from so far away.

Vibration isolation systems play a critical role in the industrial sector, particularly in precision machine design. They are used to constrict the effect of ground-borne vibrations on the stability of a machine’s position. In other cases, vibration isolation serves to prevent movements made by the machine itself from influencing surrounding processes.

All machines produce shocks or vibrations of varying amplitude or intensity. Vibration isolation is important because abnormal vibration may cause significant negative repercussions including the loosening of bolts and screws, the disruption of smaller machine components, the inefficient operation of the equipment, long-term damage to the machine, and production losses.

To manage the effect of a machine’s abnormal vibration on its surroundings, a vibration insulator is a crucial and cost-efficient solution.

Vibration Isolation and Gravitational Wave Detection

In 1915 Albert Einstein postulated the theory of general relativity, but it wasn’t until 40 years later that the theoretical reality of gravitational waves were confirmed. This event finally proved that gravitational waves carry measurable energy, a confirmation that has sparked the development of technologies associated with the enhancement of measurement sensitivity.

According to the New York Times, Einstein "rewrote the rules for space and time that had prevailed for more than 200 years, since the time of Newton, stipulating a static and fixed framework for the universe. Instead, Einstein said, matter and energy distort the geometry of the universe in the way a heavy sleeper causes a mattress to sag, producing the effect we call gravity.”

In order to achieve the measurement sensitivity necessary for guaranteed gravity wave detection, vibration isolation methods must be improved. These methods can be loosely classified into two categories: active and passive isolation.

With an active isolation system, local seismic motions are measured and force is provided to suspension supports to offset their accelerations.

Passive isolation, on the other hand, comprises assemblies of masses, pendulums, and springs organized in chains that are specifically designed to lessen the transmission of seismic vibration. Passive isolation is a simpler, cheaper, and can function without power and control systems.

Impact of Vibration Isolation on Laser Beam Stabilization

When it comes to sophisticated laser systems and their applications, vibration isolation has become the real standard in providing it with a stable environment. It is also important to note that the installation of the vibration isolation system is just as crucial as the components of the setup.

Precision machining services are equipped to take on this job. Louisiana – whree one of the LIGO observatories is located – is home to production machining specialists that possess the experience and expertise of custom-creating and installing vibration isolation systems for your industrial requirements.

LIGO’s antennas have perpendicular arms 2.5 miles long. Inside each arm is a vacuum chamber containing 2.5 million gallons of empty space. At the end of each arm are mirrors hanging by glass threads, isolated from vibrations by springs made by Digital Machining.

This isolation allows the lasers to detect changes in the length of one of those arms as small as one ten-thousandth the diameter of a proton as a gravitational wave sweeps through.


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