Dr. Simon Barke
701 SW 62nd Blvd
Apt X-169
32607 Gainesville FL

+1 352 507 9970

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Disclaimer translated by twiggs translations Übersetzungsbüro.

Dr. rer. nat.
Simon Barke
Research Projects Publications Presentations & Outreach Other Projects Travels Sustainable Ethics About
Simon Barke
Selected Publications
Inter-Spacecraft Frequency Distribution for Future Gravitational Wave Observatories (2015) Leibniz Universität Hannover, PhD Thesis
Online: Free PDF (23 MB)
Printed copy: $19.90 on (ISBN: 978-3-946068-08-2)
S. Barke, Y. Wang, J. J. Esteban Delgado, M. Tröbs, G. Heinzel, K. Danzmann. Towards a GravitationalWave Observatory Designer: Sensitivity Limits of Spaceborne Detectors (2015) Class. Quantum Grav. 32 095004, doi:10.1088/0264-9381/32/9/095004
S. Barke, N. Brause, I. Bykov, J. J. Esteban Delgado, A. Enggaard, O. Gerberding, G. Heinzel, J. Kullmann, S. M. Pedersen, T. Rasmussen. LISA Metrology System – Final Report (2014) MPG.PuRe Publication Repository
Y. Wang, D. Keitel, S. Babak, A. Petiteau, M. Otto, S. Barke, et al. Octahedron configuration for a displacement noise-cancelling gravitational wave detector in space (2013) Phys. Rev. D 88, 104021, doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.88.104021
G. Heinzel, J. J. Esteban Delgado, S. Barke, M. Otto, Y. Wang, A. F. Garcia, K. Danzmann. Auxiliary functions of the LISA laser link: ranging, clock noise transfer and data communication (2011) Class. Quantum Grav. 28 094008, doi:10.1088/0264-9381/28/9/094008
S. Barke, M. Tröbs, B. Sheard, G. Heinzel, K. Danzmann. EOM sideband phase characteristics for the spaceborne gravitational wave detector LISA (2009) Appl Phys B (2010) 98: 33–39, doi:10.1007/s00340-009-3682-x
S. Steinlechner, S. Barke, J. Dück, Lars. Hoppe, R. A. Lorbeer, M. Otto, A. Samblowski, T. Westphal. Der Lifter – Ein Flugobjekt mit Ionenantrieb (2008) PhyDid 2/7 (2008) S.20-26
Simon Barke
Public Lectures & Online Education
Beside scientific talks at professional conferences, I am lucky to have many opportunities to address the general public on stage and at exhibitions. Additionally I spend most of my free time with video editing tools preparing talks or online presentations.

I love to share my passion for physics and technology. This includes public lectures, ceremonial addresses, science slams, and TV shows, but also the development of an team building adventure game.

In coordination with an outreach effort for the selection of our space mission by the European Space Agency, we created a significant online community in the matter of weeks. Our viral 'Game Of Science' memes and the LISA Mission YouTube channel with the 'Gravity Ink.' educational videos went viral and reached over 125.000 views to date.

The creation of such videos was part of a larger outreach campaign to gather supporters for our space mission on a website I developed – with significant success: in the end we can proudly announce public endorsement by Stephen Hawking and many Nobel and Fields Medal laureates.

Gravity Ink. educational video series (3 videos, English)
Workshop on astrophysics and cosmology at Mwenge University College of Education, Tanzania
Simon Barke
Gravitational Wave Research in Space
For five years I have been the leading researcher on the frequency distribution subsystem, a central part of the LISA Metrology System that deals with the phase fidelity of high-frequency signal generation and distribution. My work includes the evaluation of electronics, electro-optical components, laser systems, and optical amplifiers to transmit GHz signals via lasers light between the spacecraft. Additionally I substantially enhanced the complex frequency swapping plan to minimize the interferometer heterodyne frequency, thus improving the overall sensitivity of the observatory.

Recently I completed a publicly available scientific web application, the Gravitational Wave Observatory Designer, that will help to explore the entire parameter space of various spaceborne gravitational wave observatories.

My research was conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Hannover, Germany, and the Department of Physics of the University of Florida in Gainesville (FL), in collaboration with the Technical University of Denmark and our industrial partner Axcon Aps in Lyngby, Denmark. The project was financed by the Centre for Quantum Engineering and Space-Time Research (QUEST) and the European Space Agency (ESA).

Many documents were created that are under non disclosure agreement with ESA. Availability can be inquired by the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) through ESA/ESTEC, Contract No. AO/1-6238/10/NL/HB. The final research report though wase made public in 2014.

Final research report (LISA Metrology System)

The LISA Mission

In space, no one can hear you scream, but a star that falls into a black hole shudders space-time to such an extent that one could actually hear its 'death cry' in form of gravitational waves. The analysis of these waves will teach us about as yet unknown underlying physics.

Our team at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Hannover, Germany, is leading the international research on laser interferometry in space. Currently there are over 40 institutions involved worldwide, including NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, and the Imperial College London. We are about to measure the separation distance between three spacecraft with unrivalled precision. It is the observation of tiny disturbances in this distance – caused by violent events throughout the entire universe – that will usher the dawn of gravitational wave astronomy.

The inter-spacecraft laser interferometry will be the key component of the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), a straw man mission for the science theme 'The Gravitational Universe'. It was recently chosen by the European Space Agency (ESA) to be launched in the 2030s. The technology is currently being adapted by us to also map the Earth's gravitational field. It will be part of the joint US-German Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment Follow-on mission ( GRACE-FO) to be launched in 2017.

eLISA Consortium website (

Gravitational Wave Observatory Designer

Within the scope of the two billion dollars LISA mission one has to trade-off between interferometer arm-length, telescope diameter, laser power, and many more parameters to achieve the best possible scientific value. The goal obviously is to construct the most sensitive observatory within technical and budgetary constraints. There are many technical noise sources, and when you change just one mission parameter, one of those might limit the final observatory's sensitivity. Multiple design studies were performed over the last years, but technology is changing and new ideas often require to quickly explore the parameter space. This was not possible until recently.

What started with a simple spreadsheet and simplified equations developed into a complex web application. It will help you to understand the influences of design choices, point out the limiting noise sources, and help you to carefully balance out all mission parameters. All calculations are fully documented and you may download a detailed report based on the given parameters.

The HTML5 based graphical user interface was designed using jQuery, a cross-platform JavaScript library, and Elements from Polymer, an open-source Web Components-based library made available by Google Inc. The compliance with Google Inc.'s 'Material Design' guidelines allows for a unified user experience across a wide range of devices, screen sizes, and formats. All calculations are done by a Perl CGI back end that is connected to the GUI via Ajax, a technique for asynchronous client-side JavaScript and XML. It interfaces with gnuplot, an open source command-line program to generate graphics in various formats including interactive SVG plots. PDF documents are created by LaTeX, a document preparation system and markup language, and the raw data is also available for download in ZIP archive file format.

A paper that describes all underlying calculations was submitted recently and is available as arXiv electronic preprint . Test the Gravitational Wave Observatory Designer at or watch the instructional video below.

Gravitational Wave Observatory Designer (video, English, 6:00)

Image: One (out of three) spacecraft of the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA). This very first low-frequency gravitational wave observatory is scheduled to launch in the 2030s.
Credit: Albert Einstein Institute / Milde Marketing / Exozet

Image: One (out of three) spacecraft of the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA). This first low-frequency gravitational wave observatory is scheduled to launch in the 2030s.
Credit: Albert Einstein Institute / Milde Marketing / Exozet

Simon Barke
People, cultures, adventures
My work on an international space mission gives me the opportunity to visit research groups all over the world. I spent some extended time in the United States, China, and Tanzania. I made many friends overseas, and Gainesville, FL, USA, and Moshi, Tanzania, quickly became my second (and third) homes.

What is considered normal in Tanzania, turned out to be one of my most fun and exciting trips: going off-road to Ol Doinyo Lengai (see video below). If you would ask me for an egocentric meaning of life, it would be meeting diverse people, getting to know fascinating cultures, and going on exciting adventures. My private travel highlights include a 10 day 3,500 miles US West Coast trip (Los Angeles, Mesa Verde, San Francisco), camping in the Maasai Mara, Tanzania (with real Maasai and wild elephants), observing a total solar eclipse all alone (just with one friend and a tortoise) in the Turkish outback, crawling through narrow bat caves in the jungle of Borneo, Malaysia, riding horses next to world's most beautiful waterfalls in Iguazu, Argentina/Brazil, and going by train from Beijing to Hong Kong in the coldest winter I ever experienced.

Land Rover in East African Outback (video, 0:48)

Image: Tanzania, back to Mount Kilimanjaro's Machame Camp after an amazing six-day hike. It is quite embarrasing to see how big of a crew you need to get four European tourists up the mountain.

Image: Tanzania, back to Mount Kilimanjaro's Machame Camp after an amazing six-day hike. It is quite embarrasing to see how big of a crew you need to get four European tourists up the mountain.
Simon Barke
For Now We Only Have One Planet
In Europe we consume more food than we can grow. We import feed for our livestock from Africa and South America where people don't have enough to eat. We take their fresh water to grow our cheap flowers. We donate clothes that are sold on African markets, enrich middlemen, and destroy local industries. We send children in dangerous mines, and give the gemstones they dug out to our loved ones. We torture and brutally kill animals to reduce the price of milk and meat. We push back wild nature into the most remote places. The world we live in is far from fair.

Some of this crimes against humanity (and life in general) are intentional economic warfare, others are a result of free economics. Nothing will change as long as consumers do not care and start to favor responsible companies.

Out of respect for sensual beings I stopped eating meat (including fish and insects) completely. I'm a vegetarian for way over 10 years now. I reduced animal cruelty as I spared the life of roughly one cow, one sheep, two geese, seven ducks, nine pigs, nine turkeys and 190 chickens so far. This has also saved substantial resources and reduced the emission of hazardous greenhouse gases. There is much more I could do, and I hope that someday I will be in a position to make a real difference. We need to reduce the influence of fanatic religions, strengthen science, knowledge and technology, and educate the world. I am optimistic that ethics and moral will evolve in companies and individuals, so that worldwide equality improves. Earth's land mammals by weight (humans: 40 Mt, wild animals: < 5 Mt, pets/livestock: 110 Mt)
Simon Barke
Simon in a Nutshell
Born in Germany where I studied physics, I also lived and worked in Gainesville, FL, USA, and Moshi, Tanzania. I had the privilege to be involved in a number of exciting projects over the last years. I wrote my PhD thesis on a low-frequency gravitational wave observatory in space. This international space mission—recently chosen by the European Space Agency to be launched in 2034—will revolutionize astronomy.

My experimental background involves lasers (IR, high power), IR optics, electro-optics, space applications, clean room environment, gigahertz electronics, and servo loops. In my free time I play the classic guitar, listen to heavy metal music, visit the fitness studio less often than I want to, love the movies, and play with my Adobe Creative Cloud. Sometimes there are additional larger projects going on to live out my enthusiasm for physics, technology, and science fiction, and to give rein to my creativity. Communicating the process and results of modern science to students and the public around the world is one of my passions.

I am excited to work in an international research group where you constantly meet diverse people and come in contact with intriguing cultures.

Simon Barke
Dachenhausenstr. 5
D-30169 Hannover

+49 177 4774666

Google+ (


PhD in Physics (Q1 2015, expected)
Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, Hanover, Germany: “Inter Spacecraft Frequency Distribution for Future Gravitational Wave Observatories.”
Post-Graduate Student (since 2009)
Centre for Quantum Engineering and Space-Time Research (QUEST), Hanover, Germany.
Exchange Researcher (2008–2009)
University of Florida, Department of Physics, Gainesville, FL, USA.
Graduate Physicist (2001–2008)
Leibniz University Hannover, Germany: Dipl.-Phys., MSc equivalent, 1.2.


Technology development (2011–2014)
Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, Hannover, Germany: design, development, and testing of metrology system breadboard model, under contract by the European Space Agency
Lecturer (2012–2015)
uniKIK, Leibniz JuniorLab, Hannover, Germany: experimental workshops (optics and low temperature physics) at primary schools
Workshops(2004, 2012, 2013)
Universities and secondary schools in Tanzania: preparation and supervision of workshops in astronomy and experimental physics for teachers and students.
Project management(2010–2012)
ActiVenture, Germany: responsible for project management and public relations, development of team building adventure game in an underground mine.
Scientific monitor(2010)
LIGO Livingston, LA, USA: Monitoring of the final Science Run (S6) of Enhanced LIGO, a 4 km ground-based gravitational wave detector.
Various universities, China: Series of talks on gravitational wave astronomy in Shanghai, Wuhan, Nanjing and Beijing.
Event management(2005–2007)
Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany: primarily responsible for fundraising, conception and execution of three different public edutainment lectures in experimental physics, 12,000 visitors total.
Teaching (high-school)(2004)
Vunjo Secondary School, Moshi, Tanzania: three month external internship, theoretical and experimental physics (Form 4), mathematics (Form 2).
Research assistant(2001–2004)
Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany: Various activities at student labs, improvement of experiments, development of new experiments, teaching.
Web design and web hosting(1999–2003)
Self-employed: full service provider, website design and development for medium-sized companies (e.g. Viessmann Modellspielwaren GmbH).


Gravitational Wave Observatory Designer Development of scientific web application (HTML5/CSS3/JavaScript, Web Components/Polymer, Perl, gnuplot, LaTeX),

Eureka-Panel Redesign of Google Chromecast web interface (Perl, HTML5/CSS3/JavaScript), part Eureka ROM (

The Gravitational Universe Science theme proposal (20 page Adobe InDesign document, arXiv: 1305.5720), development of related interactive website (, supported by >1000 scientists (incl. Stephen Hawking), winning proposal (European Space Agency).

Press event 1,000 feet underground Premiere of team building adventure game for reporters that resulted in 2 minute TV broadcasting (RTL 2 prime time news, Germany).

clever! (Constantin Entertainment) Development of large-scale experimental setups for educational television show, editorial support and coordination.

Creation of scientific and educational videos Gravity Ink. series (120,000 views total) and comprehensive Athena/eLISA Teaser (8,000 views).

Coordination of exhibitions public talks at trade shows (i. a. IdeenExpo 2011) and conferences (i. a. DPG-AMOP 2013).

Ceremonial address for award presentation Scion DTU Science and Technology Park, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Some of my favourite projects


German (native)
English (professional)
Chinese/Swahili (rudimentary)
Simon Barke
Let's be Creative
Beside projects related to my actual research I was involved in a number of other activities. These include the creation of team building role-plays and the design of large scale experiments for educational shows on television. Another interest of mine is software development and web design. Currently I am finalizing version 2.0 of the Eureka ROM web panel for Google Inc.'s Chromecast.

I love to be in the creative process from the first idea to the final implementation, and enjoy the interaction with users, customers, and audience. My latest project is Krona Sunlight , a watch face for Android Wear smart watches with integrated 24h weather forecast. It is currently the highest rated weather watch face on the Google Play Store.

Krona Sunlight: The Ultimate Weather Forecast Multi-Screen Watch Face

Deep Fusion

As part of a team of agents you will be sent underground—1,000 feet deep—to expose the dangerous practices of of ruthless energy company. No break, no audience, just a handful of rules. You will experience an oppressive, terrifying, dark story. Your team will help you to endure borderline experiences. Deep Fusion is the first ever live action adventure game 1,000 feet underground that will bring you to your physical limits. A real mine stuffed full of props, actors, and special effects.

Only three people were involved that dedicated their free time to the project. I was solely responsible for the entire media technology and computer systems, coordinated all press events and public relations, and managed the project from the first bolt to its official announcement. After we were turned down by every other mine in the region, we persistently kept on searching for the one perfect location, convinced the person in charge of a 125 year old copper mine to install media technology and computer systems, and remodel huge mine fans into scary looking reactors and biohazard laboratories. Two years later we presented the game to news media representatives, and end up in prime time news.

The game is designed as team building experience for small groups. Tickets are available on the ActiVenture website. Due to my limited time and resources I am currently not involved with ActiVenture any more. Since I left, the company designed additional—more gentle—experiences.

Deep fusion teaser trailer, 2012 (video, German, 1:24)

Large scale Christmas Lecture experiments in TV

For three years I was responsible for fundraising, conception and execution of three different public 'Christmas Lectures' in experimental physics that attracted 12,000 visitors in total. Most experiments were specifically designed and built in large scales for edutainment purposes.

One of my favourite experiment was the 'Lifter', a 70,000 volts ionic drive made just out of balsa wood, copper wire, and tinfoil. In collaboration with high voltage engineers and after month of trial and error we were able to upscale the almost magically flying object to a diameter of 3 meters, hovering 10 feet over ground.

'Clever!', a German prime time television show took notice of our experiment and hired us to design a portable version for their TV studio. Though under deadline pressure and without access to university facilities we managed to develop an easy to assemble carbon fiber based structure and impressed a baffled studio audience alongside 3.75 million viewers.

The video below is a short impression of the christmas lectures, the small scale Lifter, and the big version in television.

Christmas Lecture Hannover (physics) and the 'Lifter' in TV (video, German, 2:56)

Image: Fusion generator by eConic Enterprises (remodeled mine fan) at underground copper mine as part of ActiVenture's live action adventure game 'Deep Fusion'.
Credit: ActiVenture

Image: Fusion generator by eConic Enterprises (remodeled mine fan) at underground copper mine as part of ActiVenture's live action adventure game 'Deep Fusion'.
Credit: ActiVenture