Nobel Prize in Physics Goes to American Trio for Detecting Gravitational Waves

CAMBRIDGE, MA - OCTOBER 03: Rainer Weiss, professor emeritus of physics at MIT, looks at a prototype he built c. 1974 of a radio frequency modulated test inteferomater following a press conference after it was announced he shares a Nobel Prize In Physics For LIGO Detector work on October 3, 2017 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Half of the prize was awarded to Weiss with the other half split by Kip S. Thorne and Barry C. Barish of the California Institute of Technology, in recognition 'for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves.'  Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images

The 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics has been awarded to three American scientists for their roles in capturing actual gravitational waves. 100 years ago Albert Einstein believed the waves were real in his theory of relativity and in September of 2015 Rainer Weiss (a physics professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne (both employed by the California Institute of Technology) proved just that.

The physicists made massive contributions to LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, which is a “collaborative project with over one thousand researchers from more than 20 countries,” according the Nobel Prize website. The LIGO detecter picked up the gravitational waves in an extremely weak state as they took 1.3 billion years to reach all the way to Earth.

The LIGO project received the wave detections by using two massive laster interferometers to “measure a change thousands of times smaller than an atomic nucleus, as the gravitational wave passed the Earth.” The scientists involved believe the study of these waves could drastically alter the knowledge we have of the universe.

“Gravitational waves are direct testimony to disruptions in spacetime itself. This is something completely new and different, opening up unseen worlds. A wealth of discoveries awaits those who succeed in capturing the waves and interpreting their message,” the Nobel Prize Committee wrote in a press release about the winner’s findings. 

Check out the full coverage via The Nobel Prize’s site