Science for all – LIGO-India must contribute to the communities it needs sustenance from

Source: The post is based on the article “Science for all – LIGO-India must contribute to the communities it needs sustenance from” published in The Hindu on 7th April 2023.

Syllabus: GS – 3: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

Relevance: About the LIGO-India project.

News: The Union Cabinet has recently granted permission to set up a gravitational-wave detection facility (LIGO-India) in Maharashtra.

What are Gravitational waves?

Read here: What are Gravitational waves?

About LIGO-India project

The project will consist of a detector called the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO). It is built in the image of the twin LIGO instruments already operational in the U.S.

After the detection of gravitational waves in 2016, a third detector is being built in India as part of the LIGO-India collaboration. This is to improve the detectors’ collective ability to pinpoint sources of gravitational waves in the sky.

Read more: Scientists to test land for LIGO

What are the benefits of approving the LIGO-India project?

a) India could become a global site of gravitational physics research, b) India can aid training and the handling of precision technologies and sophisticated control systems. Thereby, cementing a reputation for successfully running an experimental Big Science project, c) LIGO-India can demonstrate India’s ability to pursue research and enhances Indian society’s relationship with science.

What are the challenges in implementing the LIGO-India project?

The prior scientific projects of India faced severe hardships. Such as Challakere Science City and the stalled India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO). This is because

Science projects need large land tracts, with inevitable implications for land-use change: Science projects have to contest land rights, balance the sustainable use of natural resources, meet carbon sequestration targets, and enforce human rights.

In some areas, science projects are seen as an “agent of colonisation”. For instance, Hawaii’s Thirty Meter Telescope is to be built on land the locals hold sacred. Hence, they have to balance the interplay between the history of science and settler colonialism.

Science projects in developing countries: In the economically developing world, countries like India have the responsibility to define their public value, beyond benefits to national industry and research.

What should be done?

-The government has to ensure adequate access to land and other resources and conduct public outreach programmes for the success of the LIGO-India project. The government has to make clear what the LIGO-India project can provide for the nation.

-The government has to ensure the timely release of funds for construction, followed by issuing the allocated resources without delay.

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