[Chicago] Use of Python in the LIGO Project (Gravitation Wave Detection)

Adam Forsyth adam at adamforsyth.net
Wed Feb 17 15:08:20 EST 2016

There was a great post of the PSF-Community mailing list
about how Python played a role in the recent detection of gravitational
waves, as predicted by Einstein 100 years ago. I've reproduced it below.
Really, really amazing to see how the tools I used all the time for often
unimportant purposes can be used for huge, significant discoveries.

hello everyone in this wonderful community,

probably, we already know about the recent confirmation by LIGO
<http://www.ligo.org/> about existence of "gravitational waves", a major
prediction by the "theory of relativity" by Albert Einstein. It is a huge
milestone to human endeavour to understand nature.

what we may or may not know that Python was the de-facto language of
software components of the experimentation. It was extensively used in
day-to-day operations, from orchestrating the instruments[1], gathering
data, analytics, to generating the finally published pretty graphs[2].
Usage of Python, IPython notebook & matplotlib was extensive among the
team-members of LIGO.[3], [4]

i am not a part of LIGO, or any of the member organisations.
Rather, as a common enthusiast of natural-sciences as well as a open-source
believer, I would like to take a moment to thank every single contributor
of Python. Please keep up pushing your commits.
We facilitated something bigger than us.

i would also like to take a moment to remember our lost friend, John D.
Hunter, the creator of matplotlib. Whom we lost in 2012 in a battle with
cancer. Dear John, you are long gone, but you will live generations through
2-D matplotlib plots.

Thanks everyone.

Khaled Monsoor,
a common user of Python

[2]: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Ca8jlVIWcAUmeP8.png
[3]: https://losc.ligo.org/s/events/GW150914/GW150914_tutorial.html
[4]: https://github.com/ligo-cbc
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