The Nobel Prize for Physics was Awarded to Gravitational Waves Observers

04 October, 2017, 00:28 | Author: Rolando Keller
  • Artist's illustration of two black holes merging

Rainer Weiss of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a German-born scientist who initially flunked out of MIT, won half the prize as the astronomer who initially spearheaded the push for the $1.1 billion project called LIGO.

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration has detected gravitational waves four times - first, on September 14, 2015, and most recently, on August 14, 2017.

Other physicists rate the discovery of gravitational waves among the most important ever in physics. Albert Einstein described the phenomenon, which came from a collision between two black holes, in his general theory of relativity, but remained convinced it was theoretically impossible to measure them.

A visualisation of the gravity waves caused by two black holes merging. "It recognizes the work of 1,000 people that has been going on for almost 40 years". Botner pointed out that just last week the LIGO team along with scientists at VIRGO, a new gravitational-wave detector near Pisa, announced that all three detectors measured signals that correspond to yet another black-hole merger. It was only a century after Einstein's prediction that scientists developed a detector sensitive enough - the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory or Ligo - and were able to confirm the existence of gravitational waves.

Indeed, who gets the Nobel Physics award is usually anybody's guess, but this year, all the rumors leaned heavily towards gravitational waves.

LIGO, which stands for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, consists of two of these pieces of equipment, one located in Louisiana and another in Washington state.

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This is something completely new and different, opening up unseen worlds, the statement said.

But because of the rules for the scientific Nobel Prizes, no more than three physicists could be given a share of the $1.1 million award.

Weiss won half the prize, with Barish and Thorne sharing the other half. Professor. "LIGO's history-making work has given us new insight into our universe". Barish and Thorne are professors of physics at California Institute of Technology.

The first detection of the waves created a scientific sensation when it was announced a year ago and the teams involved had been widely seen as favourites for the prize. It's designed so that if a gravitational wave passes by, it will stretch space along one direction of the tunnel and squish space along the direction of the other. The goal, he said, "is to look deeper and deeper into the universe and to study its beginnings". "I have somewhat ambivalent feelings about the recognition of individuals when so much of this was a team effort", he says. LSU says faculty, staff and researchers are major contributors to the worldwide LIGO Science Collaboration.

The 2016 prize went to three British-born researchers who applied the mathematical discipline of topology to help understand the workings of exotic matter such as superconductors and superfluids.


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