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Theoretical investigations of experimental gravitation


Caves, Carlton Morris (1979) Theoretical investigations of experimental gravitation. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/H3T8-FQ06.


This thesis has two basic themes: the investigation of new experiments which can be used to test relativistic gravity, and the investigation of new technologies and new experimental techniques which can be applied to make gravitational wave astronomy a reality.

Advancing technology will soon make possible a new class of gravitation experiments: pure laboratory experiments with laboratory sources of non-Newtonian gravity and laboratory detectors. The key advance in techno1ogy is the development of resonant sensing systems with very low levels of dissipation. Chapter 1 considers three such systems (torque balances, dielectric monocrystals, and superconducting microwave resonators), and it proposes eight laboratory experiments which use these systems as detectors. For each experiment it describes the dominant sources of noise and the technology required.

The coupled electro-mechanical system consisting of a microwave cavity and its walls can serve as a gravitational radiation detector. A gravitational wave interacts with the walls, and the resulting motion induces transitions from a highly excited cavity mode to a nearly unexcited mode. Chapter 2 describes briefly a formalism for analyzing such a detector, and it proposes a particular design.

The monitoring of a quantum mechanical harmonic oscillator on which a classical force acts is important in a variety of high-precision experiments, such as the attempt to detect gravitational radiation. Chapter 3 reviews the standard techniques for monitoring the oscillator; and it introduces a new technique which, in principle, can determine the details of the force with arbitrary accuracy, despite the quantum properties of the oscillator.

The standard method for monitoring the oscillator is the "amplitude- and-phase" method (position or momentum transducer with output fed through a linear amplifier). The accuracy obtainable by this method is limited by the uncertainty principle. To do better requires a measurement of the type which Braginsky has called "quantum nondemolition." A well-known quantum nondemolition technique is "quantum counting," which can detect an arbitrarily weak force, but which cannot provide good accuracy in determining its precise time-dependence. Chapter 3 considers extensively a new type of quantum nondemolition measurement - a "back-action-evading" measurement of the real part X1 (or the imaginary part X2) of the oscillator's complex amplitude. In principle X1 can be measured arbitrarily quickly and arbitrarily accurately, and a sequence of such measurements can lead to an arbitrarily accurate monitoring of the classical force.

Chapter 3 describes explicit gedanken experiments which demonstrate that X1 can be measured arbitrarily quickly and arbitrarily accurately, it considers approximate back-action-evading measurements, and it develops a theory of quantum nondemolition measurement for arbitrary quantum mechanical systems.

In Rosen's "bimetric" theory of gravity the (local) speed of gravitational radiation vg is determined by the combined effects of cosmological boundary values and nearby concentrations of matter. It is possible for vg to be less than the speed of light. Chapter 4 shows that emission of gravitational radiation prevents particles of nonzero rest mass from exceeding the speed of gravitational radiation. Observations of relativistic particles place limits on vg and the cosmological boundary values today, and observations of synchrotron radiation from compact radio sources place limits on the cosmological boundary values in the past.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Physics
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Thorne, Kip S. (advisor)
  • Drever, Ronald W. P. (co-advisor)
Group:TAPIR, Astronomy Department
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:8 May 1979
Non-Caltech Author Email:ccaves (AT)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Feynman FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:03152016-161054898
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9621
Deposited By: Benjamin Perez
Deposited On:16 Mar 2016 20:18
Last Modified:09 Nov 2022 19:20

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