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LIGO Livingston Observatory News

SPECIAL FEATURE: How the LIGO Livingston Observatory Got Its Name
Livingston Observatory Hosts First GWIC Meeting
Fourth PAC Meeting Held At Busy Livingston Observatory

How the LIGO Livingston Observatory Got Its Name

- Contributed by Mark Coles

Figure 1. The LIGO Livingston Observatory I've long been a fan of James Burke's "Connections" column in "Scientific American Magazine." The following is my attempt to emulate his approach to storytelling, linking a succession of historical events that have contributed to why the world is as it now is. This article looks at why the LIGO Livingston Observatory, as shown at right, is named "Livingston." Surprisingly, it involves many familiar topics and some of the great figures of American history. But our story starts in Switzerland where John Calvin, the leading French Protestant reformer, had taken refuge.

The Calvinist form of Protestantism that he and his associates formulated in Geneva had a major impact throughout Northern Europe. The system of church government, Presbyterianism, used by Calvin and his associates in Geneva, Zürich, and other places found an especially fertile seedbed in Scotland. In England, James VI's son, Charles I, grew up lacking any understanding of his Scottish subjects and their institutions. The king not only caused widespread anger in Scotland because of the high taxation he imposed, but it was also widely feared that because of his fondness for splendor and ritual in religious services, Charles might be a crypto-Catholic!

When Charles found himself at war with Oliver Cromwell, both sides sought help from Scotland. The Scottish army invaded England, believing (falsely) that Cromwell would help spread Presbyterian ideas. When Charles surrendered to the Scottish army in England, the Scottish handed over Charles to the English and the English handed Charles his head. When Charles II was restored to his father’s throne in 1660, there were a few royal haircuts--trimmed with an axe at the collar line--that were handed out in Scotland to those that had sided with Cromwell. Things mostly returned to the way they were before Cromwell, with church government by bishops appointed through the crown, although about one-quarter of the Scottish church ministers were deprived of their parishes for failing to go along with the system (but at least they kept their heads). A few diehards were banished for refusing to take the oath of allegiance to Charles II.

Which brings up our first mention of the name Livingston. Reverend John Livingston was one of those banished. The grandson of the fifth Lord Livingston, who had been the protector of Mary Queen of Scots, Livingston left Scotland for Rotterdam where he became the minister of the Scottish church there. His son Robert emigrated from Rotterdam to Albany, N.Y., in 1674. There his fluency in English and Dutch proved useful to him as an intermediary between speakers of those languages in the former Dutch colony, and he was soon appointed the town clerk and secretary of New York's Board of Commissioners for Indian Affairs. He made his fortune in time-honored fashion: marrying a rich woman and making real-estate deals with the Indians. He eventually acquired a 160,000 acre estate, which he named "Clermont," near Albany, New York and he became prominent in politics, serving in the provincial assembly.

Figure 2. Phil Livingston's signature on the Declaration of Independence His interest in politics was apparently an inheritable trait, as many of his descendants figure prominently in the political arena. (The family talent for making profitable real estate deals also figures into our story, as we'll see later on.) Robert's grandson William represented New Jersey in the First and Second Continental Congresses and was chosen in 1776 as the state's first governor. William's brother Philip was a signer of the Declaration of Independence (see Figure 2. at left) and his son Henry was appointed by Thomas Jefferson as Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court in 1806.

William's son Robert R. Livingston, born on the family's Clermont estate, continued the family political tradition. He was a member of the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence, and, after helping to draft New York's state constitution, he served as the state's first chancellor (or Governor).

With the inauguration of the federal government under the Articles of Confederation, Livingston was appointed Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, which would be the equivalent today of Secretary of State. He administered the oath of office in New York City to George Washington as the nation's first president. In 1801 he was appointed by President Thomas Jefferson to represent the United States in France, where he negotiated one of the greatest real estate deals of all time, the Louisiana Purchase. While in France, Livingston met and formed a business partnership with Robert Fulton. An aspiring painter from Pennsylvania, Fulton had originally traveled to London with the financial backing of Philadelphia businessmen seeking to raise the cultural standing of the city. (Perhaps they wanted to raise the standard by exiling him. It seems he failed to sell any of his paintings in England.) Perhaps in reprisal, he went in 1797 to Paris, where he proposed the idea of building a submarine, the "Nautilus," to be used in Napoleon's war with Britain. It would creep under the hulls of British warships and leave a powder charge to be exploded later. The French government rejected the idea, however, as an atrocious and dishonorable way to fight. In 1800 he was able to build the "Nautilus" at his own expense. He conducted trials on the Seine and finally obtained permission for an attack, but wind and tide enabled two British ships to elude his slow vessel.

Fulton's shipbuilding ideas were not limited to submarines. Fulton convinced Livingston to share the expense of building a steamboat in Paris using Fulton's hull and paddle design combined with an eight-horsepower French engine purchased by Livingston. Encouraged by their success, Fulton ordered parts for a 24-horsepower engine to be used for a boat on the Hudson River in New York, and Livingston obtained a 20 year monopoly on steamboat navigation in New York State.

By 1806, the steamboat parts ordered by the partnership had finally arrived in New York from France. By early August 1807 a 150-foot-long vessel, imaginatively christened "Steamboat" by Fulton, was ready for trials. Its single-cylinder condensing steam engine (with a 24-inch bore and four-foot stroke) drove two 15-foot-diameter side paddlewheels. Its trial run between New York City and Albany was a tremendous success, completing the 150-mile distance in 32 hours, considerably better time than the four days required by sailing vessels. After making further improvements to the vessel to increase its mechanical robustness (because jealous sailors would "accidently" ram the unprotected paddlewheels of their new rival) the "Steamboat" was re-registered as the "Clermont."

In 1808 Fulton married his partner's niece, Harriet Livingston. Harriet was the daughter of Edward Livingston. Edward had earlier served simultaneously as the Mayor of New York City and the U.S. District Attorney for New York State. His duties put him in charge of the Chief Customs Inspector for New York Harbor. Unfortunately, when the Inspector absconded with $50,000 of the public's funds, Edward was blamed. He was forced to resign from both offices in disgrace as a result of the scandal. He moved in 1803 to Louisiana, which had just become U.S. territory thanks to his brother Robert.

There, he established a prosperous law practice in New Orleans and helped secure a Livingston-Fulton steamboat monopoly of the New Orleans Territory. In 1811 the Fulton-designed, Pittsburgh-built "New Orleans" was sent south to begin operations between New Orleans and Natchez as the first steamboat on the Mississippi River. Edward redeemed himself in the public's eyes through his authorship of the Louisiana civil code and by serving as Andrew Jackson's aide-de-camp during the War of 1812.

In 1819, following an insurrection in Florida and the proclamation of the briefly lived "Republic of West Florida," Spain ceded its colony of Florida to the United States in exchange for recognition of Spain's sovereignty over Texas. The territory ceded included portions of the present state of Louisiana to the north of New Orleans and east of Baton Rouge. The civil parishes (counties) that comprise this portion of Louisiana are still known today as the "Florida Parishes." Livingston Parish, which is one of the Florida Parishes, was named for Edward Livingston. The Louisiana First Congressional District was represented by Edward Livingston as its first Congressional Representative. (Livingston later went on to become a US Senator and served as Andrew Jackson's Secretary of State.)

Today, that same district is represented by Robert L. Livingston, the direct descendant of William Livingston. Congressman Livingston is Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. He has been a good friend to LIGO.

(I became interested in how Livingston Parish got its name after visiting the old Louisiana State Capital Building, which is now a museum. On display is one of the original copies of the Louisiana Purchase, signed by Robert Livingston. I wrote Congressman Livingston to inquire whether he and the other Robert were related. He shared some of the details I've listed here. The remainder comes from the Encyclopedia Britannica and the 1925 edition of a British reference called Chambers Encyclopedia of Universal Knowledge.)

Livingston Observatory Hosts First GWIC Meeting

- Contributed by Sam Finn

The directors of twelve different gravitational-wave detector projects met in Louisiana on April 22 and 23 as the LIGO/Livingston Observatory played host to the first full meeting of the recently established Gravitational Wave International Committee (GWIC).

GWIC's members are the actual gravitational-wave detector projects, each of which is represented on the committee by its leadership: John Sandeman (Australian ACIGA); Karsten Danzmann and Jim Hough (the British/German GEO 600); Professors Barry Barish and Gary Sanders (the United States LIGO); Professors Yoshihide Kozai and Masa-Katsu Fujimoto (the Japanese TAMA 300); Figure 1. LIGO Livingston -- Host of the Frist GWIC Professors Alain Brillet and Adalberto Giazotto (the French/Italian VIRGO); Professor William O. Hamilton (United States ALLEGRO detector); Professor Massimo Cerdonio (the Italian AURIGA project); Professor Guido Pizzela (the Italian Explorer and NAUTILUS projects; Professor P.W. Van Amersfoort (GRAIL, the Netherlands); Professor David Blair (NIOBE, Australia); and Dr. Peter Bender (LISA, the European Space Agency sponsored space-based interferometer project). Except for Peter Bender, who was represented by Dr. Robin Stebbins, and Professor Cerdonio, whose project was represented also by Professor Guido Pizzela, all members of the GWIC were at the Livingston meeting. Also in attendance were Professor Sam Finn (GWIC acting secretary) and Drs. David Berley and Richard Isaacson, as invited observers from the United States National Science Foundation.

The agenda for GWIC's first full meeting included discussion of its permanent governance, an overview of current world-wide efforts to further develop cryogenic acoustic detectors, reports on on-going international collaborative efforts in technology development, and reports on planned international meetings focused on gravitational-wave detection issues.

After some discussion, it was decided that GWIC will be represented by an elected chair, who is also empowered to act as the committee spokesperson. The first GWIC chair, elected at this meeting, is LIGO's own Barry Barish.

GWIC heard four reports on collaborative technology development projects. Dr. Garilynn Billingsley (LIGO) described work with Dr. Claude Boccaro (VIRGO) on optical metrology and surface quality measurements of interferometer test masses. Investigations involving LIGO, ACIGA, and VIRGO of sapphire as an alternative to fused silica for interferometer test masses were reported on by Dr. Stan Whitcomb (LIGO). Dr. Albert Lazzarini reported on the FRAME standard for data recording, which is being jointly developed by VIRGO and LIGO. Finally, Professor Karsten Danzmann reported on a developing collaboration between GEO 600 and VIRGO.

At its November 1997 charter meeting in Paris, GWIC undertook to sponsor the biennial Edoardo Amaldi Meetings as the principal meeting of the world-wide gravitational-wave detection community. Dr. Sydney Meshkov was asked to chair the organizing committee for that meeting, which will be held in Pasadena during the early summer of 1999. He reported to GWIC on the current plans for that meeting, as well as the 1999 Aspen/Moriond Workshop on Gravitational-Wave Detectors and Detection, which will be held this coming January in Les Arces. Finally, Professor Sam Finn told GWIC about plans for the next Gravitational-Wave Data Analysis Workshop, to be held November 19-21, 1998 at The Pennsylvania State University.

The Gravitational Wave International Committee originated in discussions among the leaders of the interferometer projects, encouraged by Dr. David Berley of the National Science Foundation and aided by Professor Sam Finn, representing the LIGO Research Community. Those discussions culminated in a November 1997 meeting of the directors of the five large interferometer projects in Paris, which in turn led to the formation of GWIC. GWIC's primary goal is to encourage and coordinate international cooperation among the different gravitational projects planned or underway and to represent the gravitational-wave detection community to the international science community.


*** The full array of lecture and viewgraph material presented to the Gravitational Wave International Committee is available for online viewing. To visit, click here.

Fourth PAC Meeting Held At Busy Livingston Observatory

- Contributed by Syd Meshkov

The opening session of the fourth Program Advisory Committee (PAC4) meeting, held at the Livingston Observatory April 23-24, 1998, was a joint session with the Gravitational Wave International Committee (GWIC) meeting. The first part of this session was devoted to technical talks on international collaborative efforts relevant to current and future needs and requirements of LIGO and other gravitational wave observatories.

Figure 1. PAC4 Held at Bustling Livingston Observatory Stan Whitcomb presented a detailed report on the work of collaborations on the development of sapphire for test masses. He gave a useful tutorial on the role of sapphire in reducing thermal noise, and also discussed current experimental work on industrial polishing, coating, and production of sapphire. Albert Lazzarini addressed the vital topic of implementing the LIGO/VIRGO common frame format. He presented results of various tests of the system and gave a meticulous description of how the frame format is to be implemented. He described how to build a frame class library. In addition, Lazzarini presented TAMA plans for frame format implementation. Garilynn Billingsley discussed international collaborations, primarily with VIRGO, for optical testing and development. She described in some detail the progress on material development and specification, birefringence, surface roughness, wavefront distortion and absorption.

Following these technical talks, Karsten Danzmann discussed the state of collaborative work between GEO and VIRGO. Rai Weiss produced for discussion a set of possible criteria for deciding that gravitational waves have in fact been discovered. He presented criteria for deciding when we have seen impulsive signals, periodic signals, and signals for stochastic background.

During a joint, working lunch with GWIC, there came under discussion the nettlesome issue of "Intellectual Property Rights" for non-US funded activities of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) and the mention of them in Attachments to Memoranda of Understanding. David Berley of the National Science Foundation contributed his views on the matter. Robin Stebbins presented a plan for restructuring the LIGO Research Community (LRC) into an international body, dubbed GRAVITAS, to promote gravitational wave research, and sought views and comments.

The afternoon session was primarily devoted to reports on the status of the Hanford and Livingston Observatories by their respective managers, Fred Raab and Mark Coles, then came a report by Dennis Coyne on plans for detector physical integration. After such an exhausting day, the committee and guests were treated to a delicious Cajun dinner in Baton Rouge. Though good, it couldn't quite compare with the previous evening's al fresco "Crawfish Boil" held at the site, a true Lousiana custom!

The following morning, the PAC toured the Chicago Bridge & Iron Beam Tube factory which, having produced all of the needed spiral weld Beam Tubes, will now be dismantled. Following this visit, Albert Lazzarini presented a thorough update on LIGO Computing and Analysis plans. This engendered much discussion and many comments from PAC members. Tom Prince discussed plans for CACR involvement in LIGO computing and data analysis. David Shoemaker presented plans for the new MIT Test Facility, to go into the newly-built space at MIT for LIGO related activities. The morning session was followed by a final working lunch at which Rai Weiss and Barry Barish continued discussion of the status of the LIGO Laboratory and of the LSC and its organization.


*** A complete set of the lecture and viewgraph materials presented to the Fourth Program Advisory Committee is available for online viewing. To visit, click here.