Vladimir Braginsky, R.I.P.

Vladimir Braginsky (1931-2016), was one of the underappreciated godfathers of gravitational wave detection. MIT's Rainer Weiss shares a glimpse of the man:

Another memory of Vladimir I carry are his comments to me after a particularly difficult meeting with a review committee of vacuum experts who were advising the NSF on our strategy to construct the 4km beam tubes and their enclosures. The experts from vacuum groups associated with accelerator laboratories were skeptical of our design to process the metals to reduce out-gassing and thereby greatly reduce the number of pumps required to meet our goals. They were convinced that the ratio of pumping capacity to surface area was so low as to jeopardize the project and were convinced the LIGO vacuum would fail to achieve its design even though we had demonstrated the strategy in two separate experiments on different scales. I knew that if we were to build LIGO based on their recommendations, it would have significantly exceeded our estimated costs and I felt would have killed the project. Vladimir caught me sitting in a room on a corridor near the Caltech Physics Division headquarters with what must have been a pretty desperate look. He came and patted me on the back and said, "You know what you are doing is analogous to a man trying to love a woman in broad daylight in the middle of Red Square. You will get a lot of advice." We both laughed; it was just the change in perspective that was needed.

(from "LIGO Mourns the Loss of Vladimir Braginsky" in LIGO News, 2016-04-25; see QuantumNondemolition (2000-02-05), ...) - ^z - 2017-03-01