Nobel Prize in Physics goes to 'black hole telescope' trio

Nobel Prize in Physics goes to 'black hole telescope' trio

Barish and Kip S. Thorne (left to right) won the 2017 Nobel Prize for physics for leading the projects that discovered gravitational waves.

One-half of the prize was awarded to Weiss, and the other half will be shared by Thorne and Barish. These three physicists have played a major role in the "Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory" experiment, which first observed the gravitational waves in the year 2015.

Originally predicted in the early 20th century by Einstein, gravitational waves were not detected until 2015, when LIGO identified the first such signal from two merging black holes.

"This is something completely new and different, opening up unseen worlds", the academy said in a statement when announcing the winners.

"A wealth of discoveries awaits those who succeed in capturing the waves and interpreting their message". And Barish and Weiss stood at the origins of the LIGO project. Over the next decade, Barish "transformed LIGO from a limited MIT/Caltech endeavour to a major worldwide, gravitational-wave project", Nobel Prize committee wrote.

That black hole crash was relatively small and extremely far away - so imagine what scientists might start "seeing" in the universe with these kinds of tools?

Glasgow University physicists have been working to prove the existence of gravitational waves for almost 50 years and helped develop sensors used by Ligo.

In 2011, LSU Alumni Professor Bradley Schaefer and colleagues from the Supernova Cosmology Project received a share of the prize for their observation of distant supernovas.

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The observation of gravitational waves promises a revolution in our understanding of the universe, especially when it comes to observing incredibly violent and catastrophic events like the collision of black holes.

Thorne earned his Ph.D. from the Princeton University in 1965, later becoming a professor of theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology.

Today's recognition in the Nobel Prize in Physics is in part an outcome of LSU's long-term vision and commitment to high-risk, high-potential gain scientific research.

Even though the cataclysmic events which cause gravitational waves are incredibly powerful, the signals are nearly imperceptible by the time they reach earth, requiring extremely sensitive instruments to detect them. They are always created when a mass accelerates, like when an ice-skater pirouettes or a pair of black holes rotate around each other.

"We now witness the dawn of a new field: gravitational wave astronomy", Nils Martensson, acting chairman of the Nobel Committee for Physics, told reporters.

González, an LSU professor of physics and astronomy, is the former spokesperson who led the LSC at the time of the initial detection. 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.

Ironically, Einstein would have been quite surprised because even though he theorized about gravitational waves, he didn't think humans would ever have the technology to spot them.

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