NSF-funded LIGO pioneers named 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics laureates

Posted October 04, 2017

Takaaki Kajita, a Japanese scientist who won the 2015 Nobel Prize in physics, has been leading a project to search for gravitational waves using the giant detector. One half was awarded to Rainer Weiss of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the other half jointly to Barry C Barish and Kip S Thorne (in centre of picture) - both from California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

On 14th Sep, 2015 the LIGO detectors in USA saw space vibrate with gravitational waves, for the very first time.

Gravitational waves spread at the speed of light, filling the universe. These waves, foretold for the first time by Albert Einstein a century ago, come from the collision between two black holes. When he took over as the second director of Ligo in 1994, the project was at risk of being cancelled.

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"Although the signal was extremely weak when it reached Earth, it is already promising a revolution in astrophysics". The first time this was detected was on September 14, 2015, by the LIGO-VIRGO collaboration.

The breakthrough came with the construction of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), a collaborative project with more than 1,000 researchers from more than 20 countries.

Three U.S. -based scientists won the Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for detecting faint ripples flying through the universe - the gravitational waves predicted a century ago by Albert Einstein. He is a theoretical physicist who made crucial predictions about what the detection of a gravitational wave would "look" like. The committee chose to give half of the award to Weiss and split the other half between Thorne and Barish. "It's very rare that we open a completely new window on the universe". As much as good science is being done every year, it's hard to rival something as groundbreaking as gravitational waves.

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Rainer Weiss, born 1932 in Berlin, Germany. Ph.D. These ripples, called gravitational waves, should in theory be detectable if we were ever able to build instruments sensitive enough. These are known as gravitational waves.By the time these disturbances reach us, they are nearly imperceptible.

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. Barish and Thorne are professors of physics at California Institute of Technology. Speaking over the phone at the award ceremony he said: "I view this more as a thing that recognises the work of about 1,000 people". In 1916, the renowned physicist said his theory of general relativity meant that gravitational waves could exist. "Like the rest of the scientific world and beyond, we congratulate these researchers and the members of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration for such a monumental scientific milestone".

This is the third year scientists from the LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy have been among the scientific research teams involved with the Nobel Prize in Physics.

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