Cresting a gravitational wave

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Science  31 Mar 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6332, pp. 1380
DOI: 10.1126/science.aam9747

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A year ago, the discovery of ripples in space itself—gravitational waves—rocked physics. Apart from the researchers involved, nobody has paid closer attention to the decades-long quest to detect those ripples than Harry Collins, a sociologist at Cardiff Univer­sity, who has followed the field since 1972. In the early 1990s, he embedded himself in the collaboration building the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), the massive instruments in Louisiana and Washington State that made the dis­covery on 14 September 2015. In Gravity’s Kiss, his fifth book on the field, Collins, 73, gives a real-time account of LIGO’s stunning first observation and physicists’ struggle to validate it—and keep it secret—until it was announced 5 months later.