Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded to LIGO Black Hole Researchers

Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded to LIGO Black Hole Researchers

In each case, the gravitational waves detected were created just before black holes merged. But the physics world had widely anticipated this one and the three researchers, along with others, have won a series of major prizes and commendations for the work.

Another founder of LIGO, scientist Ronald Drever, died in March.

Prof Thorne made crucial predictions about how to recognise a gravitational wave signal. "It's revolutionary", says Abraham Loeb, a theorist at Harvard University. "It was wonderful experience", said Weiss, adding that the discovery "have added new knowledges and will open a new science in understanding our universe". That worries me a lot, said Rainer Weiss, an emeritus professor of physics at MIT, and part of the team honored on Tuesday. She says many have been crying this morning in light of the news.

Space-time is the mind-bending, four-dimensional way astronomers see the universe.

The team managed to observe a collision between two black holes. But the truly incredible achievement was to make the LIGO detectors. LSU faculty, students and scholars have had leading roles in the development of several generations of gravitational wave detectors, in their commissioning and operation as well as the collaborations formed. LIGO's interferometers can detect a difference in length as small as 1/10,000 the width of a proton.

Barish and Thorne worked at the California Institute of Technology in Southern California. At some point, Einstein himself started doubting their existence, but one of his assistants convinced him that mathematically, they should exist. In the 1960s, USA physicist Robert Forward built a small interferometer for the task. But it was Weiss, who once flunked out of college, who analyzed the technique thoroughly.

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After overcoming his initial skepticism, Thorne championed the project and pressed Caltech to pursue gravitational wave research by hiring Drever in 1979. It is an incredible new tool that has only begun to transform our understanding of the universe. "They are always created when a mass accelerates, like when an ice-skater pirouettes or a pair of black holes rotate around each other", the Nobel jury explained. Barish, 81 is also from the United States and is a professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology.

"It's much less likely we'd be able to probe the universe this way without the work of Weiss, Barish and Thorne". He took over as the second director in 1994 at Ligo when the project was close to being canceled.

"LIGO was a huge technical and scientific gamble", Caltech physics professor Fiona Harrison said. "It was something that Rai [ner] and Kip couldn't do". When Barry Barish was contacted by AP, he stated that "the Nobel was a big win, a win for Einstein".

"But I'm thrilled that the Nobel Committee has recognised Rai, Barry and Kip's pioneering work". Renier Wiess will get half of the 9 million Kroner prize, with Barry and Kip sharing the other half.

"Surprisingly, gravitational waves from sources that are too weak to be individually detectable can produce a strong stochastic background", Brito said. "And it's cruel to Ron because he would have enjoyed it".

The one thing LIGO has yet to deliver is a surprise, Weiss notes.

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