LIGO DetectionLIGO

Genre: Documentary, short film

Synopsis: On September 14, 2015 the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors, located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington measured ripples in the fabric of spacetime – gravitational waves – generated by the merger of two massive black holes over one billion light years from Earth. This discovery is the culmination of decades of instrument research and development through a world-wide collaboration of more than one thousand researchers and scientists. It proves a prediction made by Einstein 100 years ago, is the first direct observation of black holes, and the beginning of a new era of gravitational-wave astronomy.

Every day we read the headline news in which ‘Scientist claim …’ and ‘Scientist discover …’ and ‘Scientists report …’ But what does it mean to make an extraordinary claim? In this, the 3rd film about LIGO, we investigate what unfolded between the incredible detection of merging black holes on September 14, and five months later, February 11, 2016 when LIGO announced this to the world. This 20 minute film premiered at New Scientist on February 7, 2017.

Read an exclusive interview, “To catch a Wave: A detection story” in LIGO Magazine, Issue 10, pages 18-21

Watch the Trailer and the full film at Vimeo and Amazon Prime

The first film in this series was LIGO, A Passion for Understanding followed by LIGO Generations.

Festivals and Awards:

  1. Raw Science Film Festival – 2017, 2nd Place Professional Documentary
  2. Super Geek Film Festival – 2018, Official Selection

Raw Science Film Festival - 2nd place Professional Documentary Super Geek Film Festival - Official Entry


Feedback for the Film

“You’ve done it again! Your film captures the sense of joy, accomplishment and magic in this amazing discovery by the LIGO community, while explaining the details in a non-intrusive and non-overwhelming way. You really have a wonderful gift in your ability to show the process of scientific discovery in a way that the public can appreciate and feel that they are participating in.” –Richard Isaacson, retired National Science Foundation Program Officer

“Finally, all pieced together and it flows wonderfully. This helps show why there is excitement and passion for this enormous project. Something that I would try to explain to others … because it is just amazing.” –Kellie Ault, graduate student, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

“It is very powerful — actually brought tears to my eyes.” –France Córdova, Director of the National Science Foundation

“I just watched the film and I think it’s phenomenal … I’m struck by how clear and crisp everything is and how you involved so many people in so many ways. The opening earth sequence is phenomenal and really captures what it was like for all of us during those first days.” –Joshua Smith, Professor, Fullerton State, California

“Actually gave me goosebumps watching:-)” –Gilad Amar

“The film is simply lovely. I thoroughly enjoyed it.” –Rich Abbot, Caltech

“I can only say … wow!!! It’s extremely well done — it brought back many memories for me. The shots in the LVEA, the excerpts from the news coverage, all of it is really amazing.” –David Reitze, Executive Director, LIGO Laboratory

“Wow! Thank you so much for the preview. The impact of “LIGO Detection” is truly both mind and body. You captured it all: the disbelief, the wanting to believe, the voices of caution, the process of verification, and finally the jubilation and sense of accomplishment. What a great testimony to how science is done – not by a single genius but by a group working together.” –Rainer Weiss, Founding LIGO Physicist