Physics- Lasers and Relativity

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This comprises the development and operation of large gravitational-wave detectors on the ground as well as in space, but also a full range of supporting laboratory experiments in quantum optics and laser physics.

Gravitational Wave Detection on Earth and in Space

The direct observation of gravitational waves on September 14, added a new sense to our perception of the Universe. The GEO collaboration is a world leader in detector technology. Skip to navigation Press Enter. Skip to main content Press Enter. Intranet Contact Sitemap Deutsch.

Relativistic Laser Plasma Physics - Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, HZDR

Karsten Danzmann Director. Vega at a glance Vega programme Organisation Milestones Verta programme.

LARES satellite. Currently 5 out of 5 Stars.

Vacuum laser acceleration of relativistic electrons using plasma mirror injectors

Europe's Spaceport. For the media.

follow Thank you for registering with Physics World If you'd like to change your details at any time, please visit My account. Achim Peters of the University of Konstanz in Germany and colleagues used a super-stable laser standing wave to check the theory three times more accurately than previous similar experiments.

Special relativity states — among other things — that the speed of light is the same no matter how fast an observer is travelling. The so-called Kennedy-Thorndike experiment tests this prediction by monitoring the oscillations of a light source as it accelerates and decelerates. In this time, the Earth completes over half its circuit around the Sun and — accounting for the rotation of the Earth — the velocity of the Konstanz lab changes by about 30 kilometres per second.

The team found that frequency of the light in the CORE remained constant throughout the experiment, confirming that — over this velocity range — the speed of light is indeed independent of the velocity of the laboratory in which it is measured.


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This amounts to a verification of the special theory of relativity three times more accurate than previous tests based on the Kennedy-Thorndike method. The day measurement was made possible by the extreme stability of the CORE, which consists of a sapphire cavity chilled to 4 kelvin. At this temperature, there is virtually no thermal vibration in the crystalline structure of the cavity, which would cause the frequency of the standing wave to drift.

This effect meant that earlier experiments could only run for a matter of days, during which time the velocity of the Earth changes less dramatically. Achim and colleagues point out that the accuracy of their set-up was limited by the stability of the iodine clock.

Special Relativity and the Twin Paradox

They believe that recently developed optical clocks — which are around seven times more accurate than the best atomic clocks — will allow them to test special relativity even more stringently in future.