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 waves came from a collision between two black holes. It took 1.3 billion years for the waves to arrive at the LIGO detector in the USA. pic.twitter.com/kg6vQbIm7t
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 3, 2017
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.