LIGO pioneers win 2017 Nobel Prize in physics

Mandy Carr
October 4, 2017

One-half of the prize was awarded to Weiss, and the other half will be shared by Thorne and Barish.

LIGO was originally proposed in the 1980s as a means for detecting gravitational waves. The gravitational waves from two black holes colliding over a billion light years away were detected on September 14, 2015, at 4:51 a.m. CST by the twin LIGO detectors, located in Livingston, La., and Hanford, Wash. The one half of the prize will go to Rainer Weiss and the other half jointly to Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne at LIGO/VIRGO COLLABORATION.

"It's insane that we happen to have a country where it depends on what political party you are in whether you believe in climate change or not", Barish said.

Barry Barish of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

"The discovery of the existence of gravitational waves, just over two years ago, has opened up a whole new way to understand the universe", she said.

The historic announcement in February 2016 that tremors in the very fabric of reality had been traced to the titanic collision of two black holes was widely tipped to be a Nobel Prize victor. But that does not curb speculation.

In the 1960s, Thorne, a black hole expert at the California Institute of Technology who is now 77, came to believe that collisions between the invisible monsters he studied should be detectable as gravitational waves. This year, the predictions came true.

There were 37 authors from nine Indian Institutions in the scientific publication presenting the first discovery of gravitational waves published in the Physical Review letters by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration. Detectors have sensed three other gravitational waves since then, all from merging black holes. He led the construction of the two LIGO facilities - in Hanford, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana - and oversaw the installation of the project's interferometers. These are tubes in which laser beams pass through an nearly flawless vacuum.

"We are eagerly anticipating what we will see and learn about next because of these researchers' vision", Córdova said.

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"Hunting stands are nearby in the woods, but they point away from the beam lines". "He really was the one who made it happen".

Aside from his work on LIGO, Thorne is known for his theories about time travel.

Married to a film producer, he heavily consulted on the film Interstellar, and his own calculations helped the special effects team create realistic visuals of black holes. Here's what their discovery means and why they won the prize worth $1.1 million (9 million kronor). He is largely credited with turning the project round and bringing it to completion.

The first is the well-known scientist Marie Curie (who is also the only woman to be awarded a Nobel twice). Planning for the MIT/Caltech observatory began in 1980s, backed by funding from the National Science Foundation. President Trump proposed a budget cut of 11 percent to the NSF, but Congress has been more supportive of the agency.

110 Nobel prize for physics was awarded in 1901 to 2016, among them only two were women.

Kip S. Thorne, born 1940 in Logan, UT, USA. Ph.D. Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr and Max Planck are among some of the most popular Physics Laureates.

■ 2010: Andre Geim (Netherlands-Britain) and Konstantin Novoselov (Russia-Britain) for work on the two-dimensional material graphene.

Spotting the phenomenon requires measuring this tiny movement, which covers a distance 1,000 times smaller than the width of a proton, the nuclear heart of an atom. Prizes in chemistry, literature and peace also will be awarded this week.

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