The members of AS Pisa have two certainties in December: going home for the holidays and visiting the Virgo interferometer.
Like every year, on December 3rd, we had the opportunity to visit the Virgo interferometer, a must-do for us! If you are not an enthusiastic fan of ours you may be wondering, “What is an interferometer?”
You all surely remember when, in early 2016, Einstein’s general theory of relativity got an important confirmation with the first observation of gravitational waves produced by the merger of two black holes. But what made it possible for an imperceptible distortion (we are talking about something in the order of 10-18 m!) in the space-time continuum to be recorded? Exactly, an interferometer! At the time, Virgo was off due to work to increase its sensibility, but its researchers did play a part in the study of the data collected by its American alter ego.
As the space nerds that we are, we cannot help but be amazed by this building (the largest in Europe and the third largest in the world) and what it hides, literally, beneath the surface.
The researchers gave us an interesting introduction to gravitational waves and guided us on a trip just outside Pisa, to the very building where the magic happens.