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# Orbital Gravitational Wave Observatory

 (+4) [vote for, against]

Gravitational waves have already been detected. The experimental apparatus involves incredibly long holes with lasers shining about and doing very careful interferometry on the resultant light. Their signal is often a fraction of a proton width and for that reason they must work very hard to stop temperature or leaning undergraduates adding spurious signals.

Nature has provided science with a finely tuned gravitational sensor. The cat. Everyone knows cats land on their feet when they find themselves flung from tall structures. This implies they have full ability to align with the gravitational field in a manner sensitive to polarity.

This behavior can be used to put together a gravitational wave observatory based upon a feline array. To avoid the overwhelming local effects of the Earth, the array must be positioned in space. Fortunately, blasting animals into space is fully baked. Once we have an orbiting capsule full of cats we need to prod them until they're all in the middle. Then we need a readout. I recommend finding a breed with a pleasing dorsal-ventral color separation, or just paint one side with a hard-wearing white gloss. Simply set up cameras along all major axes through the craft. The cameras only need to the black/white so nothing fancy needed.

Now we wait. At baseline, the cats will assume a random orientation with a fairly even black-white mix along any axial pair of cameras. Now, when a gravity wave comes along, the cats will align, first with one direction and then the opposite node of the wave. The cats will oscillate back and forth along an axis perpendicular to the origin of the gravitational disturbance.

From these oscillations, the direction and frequency can be determined. Amplitude is trickier. Maybe some cats are more/less sensitive? Maybe a separate instrument? Perhaps measure the force generated by several cats attached to a rotating pole?

Anyhow, I think it's clear the direction we need to go.

 — bs0u0155, Aug 07 2017

Laser Interferometer Space Antenna https://en.wikipedi...meter_Space_Antenna
[xaviergisz, Aug 07 2017]

 We will transport all the cats into orbit, or to one of the LaGrange points, free of charge and at any time.

 Or Mercury.

 Or Neptune ... Neptune's nice at this season.

 What about the Oort cloud ? There's a terrible shortage of felines out there ...

 Life support not included.

[+]
 — 8th of 7, Aug 07 2017

 The first gravitational wave signal spanned a frequency range from 35 to 250 Hz, according to Wikipedia.

 I worry that the moment of inertia of a typical cat will act as a low-pass filter that prevents such signals from being detectable.

Hopefully future advances in wide-bandwidth cat manufacturing techniques will allow this deficiency to be addressed.
 — Wrongfellow, Aug 12 2017

There is a solution to that problem. The mass of a cat remains approximately constant, but its rotational inertia depends on its shape. By deforming the cat into a long, narrow rod its rotational inertia about the long axis can be made arbitarily small.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 12 2017

Interesting! This suggests the idea of mounting three similarly-elongated cats along mutually perpendicular axes, thus achieving directional sensitivity.
 — Wrongfellow, Aug 12 2017



<succumbs to giggling and hiccuping>
 — 8th of 7, Aug 12 2017

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