Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded to LIGO Black Hole Researchers


Two projects born a century ago in the mind of Albert Einstein, and the scientific leaders behind them, won the 2017 Nobel Prize in physics for detecting gravitational waves.

LSU Adjunct Professor and MIT Professor Emeritus Rainer Weiss and California Institute of Technology professor emeriti Kip Thorne and Barry Barish have been awarded this year's Nobel Prize in Physics.

Gravitational waves travel at the speed of light, and since 2015, has been detected on four other occasions, most recently in August.

Two years later, we have seen the fourth example of a gravitational wave, with predictions that we could be finding them weekly by the end of 2018.

The waves detected by the laureates came from the collision of two black holes some 1.3 billion light-years away. The ability to measure gravitational waves is leading to a revolution in astrophysics, according to the Nobel Committee.

The scientists were key to the first observation of gravitational waves in September 2015.

A statement issued by the Nobel prize committee said: "The 2017 Nobel Laureates have, with their enthusiasm and determination, each been invaluable to the success of Ligo".

The LIGO Livingston observatory is located on LSU property, and LSU faculty, students and research staff are major contributors to the worldwide LIGO Science Collaboration, or LSC.

University has paid tribute to the work of one of its former scientists after three of his colleagues were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics.

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As a result of the huge discovery, Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics. It's not every day that we manage to open a new window into the universe, but this is exactly what their research has done.

"Gravitational waves, which rythmically stretch and squeeze space, change tone as their message alters".

Rainer Weiss of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. "We salute the LSU scientists who contributed to this discovery and all of the members of the LIGO scientific collaboration". 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.

The announcement said Einstein was convinced that gravitational waves could never be measured.

Meanwhile, Barish, a particle physicist also from CIT and the second director of LIGO, was instrumental in seeing the project through to construction, despite the fact that when he took over in 1994, it was in danger of being scrapped.

David J. Thouless shared half of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics. 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".

Ms Rowan said: "We're in the very early, very exciting first stages of gravitational wave astronomy, a whole new way of examining the cosmos".

Theoretical astrophysicist Kip Thorne, 77, engineered a similar interferometer prototype at the California Institute of Technology in the 1970s, and his group's designs and discoveries laid the foundation for the LIGO.