Replacing Nothing is Really Something

May 5, 2020 - Gloria Cordova

Photo of Carl Caves

CQuIC Founding Director Carlton Caves was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences at the Academy’s annual (in this case, online) meeting on the weekend of April 26-28. Asked why, Caves replied, “The Academy isn’t very forthcoming about why members are elected, but here’s a guess. Generally, it’s for a lifetime of contributions to quantum metrology, the science of making good measurements in the face of the uncertainties of quantum mechanics, and, specifically, for an idea I had in 1981 for making interferometers more sensitive. That idea, implemented in the LIGO and VIRGO interfereometric gravitational-wave detectors a little over a year ago, made them measurably better.” Asked to describe the idea, Caves said, “It’s much ado about nothing and about how replacing nothing with next to nothing, otherwise known as squeezed vacuum, is really something.”