Paper 5

Collins, H. M., (1999) `Tantalus and the Aliens: Publications, Audiences and the Search for Gravitational Waves’, Social Studies of Science, 29, 2, 163-197.


Drawing with stick figures and aliens.

Joe Weber’s post-1975 positive papers are discussed, especially the response to papers published in 1982, 1984 ff, 1989, and 1996.

The early and late papers were ignored – not an unreasonable response at this stage of the scientific game. The arguments with Weber were taking place in conferences and less formal settings. This switch from formal to informal settings is normal as a controversy matures. Nevertheless between about 1985 and 1995 Weber’s positive papers were attacked by high-profile scientists in high prestige journals. This was partly due to concern over funding of LIGO and the worry that outsiders, such as congressmen and women, would get the wrong impression.

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