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Napoleon was Lucky to be Exiled on Isola d'Elba

Napoleon was Lucky to be Exiled on Isola d'Elba

- Contributed by Syd Meshkov

The GWADW at Isola d'Elba.

The 2002 Gravitational Wave Advanced Detector Workshop (GWADW), with the subtitle of "Toward a Global Detection Network" was held in beautiful Isola d'Elba, Italy, May 19-26, 2002. The conference replaced, only for this occasion, the Aspen Winter Conference on Gravitational Waves. The next conference will be held February 2-8, 2003, again in Aspen.

The conference was exciting, the locale breathtaking, and the food overwhelming in quality, presentation, variety, and abundance. We all were certain we would weigh 20 pounds more on our return to the real world. (Luckily I only gained about two pounds.)

Before the conference began, our hosts at VIRGO gave us a guided tour through the facilities at Cascina. The rate of progress there is very impressive. The beam tube enclosure is big enough to accommodate an upright person of normal stature, and it seems that no concrete beam tube cover is needed! Experiments are underway in the Central Interferometer.

Following this tour, we were transported by bus, and then car ferry, to Portoferraio, Napoleon's home and castle while in exile on Elba. It's interesting to realize that while in exile, he was actually the ruler of Elba. It's good to be the king!

We were then driven by bus about 10 kilometers to the Hermitage Hotel, the conference site--right on the beach. Our thanks go to our Italian confreres, Carlo Bradaschia, Francesco Fidecaro, Angelo Scribano and Lucia Lilli for arranging and conducting this conference in such a paradise, as well as contributing to the program. Thanks are also due to Gary Sanders and Ric DeSalvo for their work on the organization and program, and to Veronica Kondrashov for constructing and maintaining the local conference web pages and for gathering and posting the conference talks.

Isola d'Elba.

The goal of the conference was to discuss the physics coverage that might be achieved considering that, in the near future, there will be interferometers both on Earth and in space, as well as an array of resonant detectors, all of whose sensitivity will improve thanks to the many ongoing research and development programs. These goals were certainly met, and then some, starting with a stage-setting talk by Giazotto, followed by presentations from Tinto and Benacquista on "Sources," and by Arnaud and Cagnoli on the "Angular Coverage and Optimal Configurations of Terrestrial and Space-Based Detectors." Talks by Kawamura and Vecchio discussed filling in the "gap" between terrestrial and space-based detectors.

A series of talks described the status of present detectors of all varieties, as well as results and lessons learned from the operation of these detectors. These discussions included the results of the Japanese TAMA 300-LISM coincidence observations and data analysis, presented by Sato, Tagoshi and R. Takahashi, and Marka's presentation on the LIGO E7 run.

Stimulating sessions on "Network Analysis and Data Exchange" (Organized by Mours), and on "Progress in Computing, Simulation and Data Analysis" (organized by Lazzarini and Ricci) marked the midpoint. Following these sessions, Saulson presented an interim summary, entitled "What have we learned so far?"

Details about the work on all future detectors currently under study, invoking the latest technologies and aspirations, were presented by their advocates. These were followed by several days worth of very technical talks on "Lowering the Sensitivity Floor," ranging from discussions of resonant sideband extraction, to discussions of mirror coatings and extensive discussions of suspension properties and designs.

The geographic distribution of the participants was interesting. The largest representation was, of course, Italian. But in addition, there were over a dozen Japanese citizens in attendance, many Americans, five representatives from the Germany-British GEO Project, as well as one Taiwanese and one Russian participant.

Isola d'Elba.

As always, discussions at mealtime, at breaks, and on the beach were at least as useful as the formal presentations. The schedule was set up as in Aspen, namely there were morning sessions that usually lasted from 9 AM to 12:30 PM. Late afternoon sessions resumed at 4:30 PM and lasted until 7:30 PM. Lunch, the main meal, followed the morning session and was served al fresco. The squid, octopus and fish populations nearby were severely reduced in population. Dinner was served, formally, at 8:30 PM. Everyone stayed at the Hermitage Hotel, so the interaction of fizzies and their families--lots of kids--was exuberant.

After the final session, the conference went on a trip to Pianosa, the Alcatraz of Italy. This entailed a pleasant boat ride of about an hour from Elba. We toured Pianosa, a long flat island with a site that was once a Roman harbor, went through the jail cells--in use until about three years ago--and returned to Elba for a last supper and for Carla Francesco's fifth birthday party. Clearly, if one must be exiled, then the beach paradise that is Isola d'Elba is a first-rate spot in which to "endure" it.


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