Physicist Who Fled Nazi Rule Wins Nobel Prize

04 October, 2017, 00:30 | Author: Lorena Waters
  • Barry Barish of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.   

  Caltech

Two US-based instruments working in unison, called the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, detected the first waves caused by colliding black holes. "The National Science Foundation has supported the goal of detecting gravitational waves for four decades", said NSF Director France Córdova.

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. It took 1.3 billion years for the waves to arrive at the LIGO detector in the USA.

A team of more than a thousand scientists, researchers and technicians, making up the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, discovered the first gravitational ripple in space-time in September 2015.

The trio worked at Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), which is a massive L-shaped building that picks up on incredibly weak or sensitive measurements from space.

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics are shared by three scientists, announced the Royal Academy of Sciences in Stockholm on Tuesday. "The discovery of black-hole mergers and the detection of gravitational waves never would have happened without these creative scientists".

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Barish, and Kip S. Thorne split the prize announced by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences early Tuesday. One-half of the prize was awarded to Weiss and the other half is shared by Thorne and Barish. University of Florida's Clifford Will said it offers a new way of observing the cosmos beyond light and particles. A passing gravitational wave will generally stretch the two 4-kilometer-long arms by different amounts, and by comparing laser light bouncing back and forth in the arms, physicists can detect that slight differential stretching. Half of the prize will go to Weiss, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "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".

Kip Thorne, a theoretical professor of physics at California Institute of Technology, also has a special connection with Hollywood. The first detection of the waves created a scientific sensation when it was announced early a year ago and the teams involved in the discovery had been widely seen as favourites for Tuesday's prize. Wiess' device was inspired by an invention in the late 1800s by physicist (and fellow Nobel Prize winner) Albert Michelson.

"There's a very loud future for gravitational waves", he said. These are known as gravitational waves.By the time these disturbances reach us, they are nearly imperceptible.

The discovery can pave the way for proving the general theory of relativity, so that we can look deeper and deeper into the universe.

Last year's prize went to three British physicists for their work on exotic states of matter that may pave the way for quantum computers and other revolutionary technologies.

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