USA physicists win Nobel Prize for discovery of gravitational waves

Nobel Prize

Three US scientists have won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery of gravitational waves - a phenomenon first predicted by Albert Einstein a hundred years ago.

USA astrophysicists Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne have been awarded the Nobel Physics Prize for their pioneering role in the detection of gravitational waves.

Gravitational waves from the black hole collision 1.3 billion years ago were detected on September 14, 2015, by twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors in Louisiana and Washington sate, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration team said in February 2016. More on that later....

A professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics. The LIGO observatories are funded by the National Science Foundation, or NSF. Barry Barish, now professor emeritus of physics at Caltech, joined the project in 1994 and later became the LIGO director. Weiss and Thorne conceived of LIGO, and Barish is credited with reviving the struggling experiment and making it happen. The first trace at Hanford, Washington state, matched nearly exactly the second at Livingston, Louisiana, 3000 kilometres away.

What they did: Ok, let's talk about these interferometers.

Who will win a Nobel physics prize is often anyone's guess; the selection process is notoriously secretive.

"The beam must hit the mirrors precisely".

The LIGO project consists of more than 1000 researchers from at least 20 countries.

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Other types of gravitational detectors are being built including one in India.

"We already knew gravitational waves existed".

The disruption behind such a shift would need to be enormous, given it is creating waves that move at the speed of light and distort the physical makeup of the universe. A gravitational wave passing through the area of the detector causes a momentary subatomic-scale change in the length of one arm relative to the other.

The setup for the LIGO experiment looks like a giant L, with each side stretching about 2.5 miles long.

The awarding of the prize came after an worldwide team of scientists announced previous year the detection of ripples in space-time from two colliding black holes.

After two black holes collide, they leave behind a single rotating black hole with no traces visible of its dramatic inception. They did this using a highly sophisticated detector to "listen" in on the event around 1.8 Billion light-years away. Virgo is also the interferometer and belongs to the EGO - the European gravitational Observatory. "This is just the beginning of a new roller-coaster exploration of the universe", said Alberto Vecchio of the University of Birmingham's Institute of Gravitational Wave Astronomy.

After overcoming his initial skepticism, Thorne championed the project and pressed Caltech to pursue gravitational wave research by hiring Drever in 1979.

And since then, they have clinched all the major astrophysics prizes to be had. The technology needed to do this has taken decades to develop and is so advanced that even Einstein himself was convinced that it would never be possible.

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