MIT professor wins Nobel Prize in Physics

LIVE Sweden's Nobel Prize in Physics 2017

The Nobel Prize in Physics going to the LIGO architects for their contribution to detecting gravitational waves serves as a major encouragement for Indian researchers to participate in mega science projects and be leaders in them, said an official of the LIGO India project.

This year's prize for physics is split: Rainer Weiss, a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is awarded one half of the SKr9 million award (£825,000), and Professors Kip Thorne and Barry Barish, both from the California Institute of Technology, take the other half of the prize.

Since the first detection in 2015, LIGO has detected gravitational waves three more times. That worries me a lot, said Rainer Weiss, an emeritus professor of physics at MIT, and part of the team honored on Tuesday. He had already analysed possible sources of background noise that would disturb measurements, and also designed a detector (a precursor to LIGO), which would overcome this noise. More on that later....

Thorne, a professor of theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology (CIT) produced important work outlining how gravitational wave signals could be identified amidst a sea of other data.

LIGO is an example of risky but potentially revolutionary science funded by NSF. His ideas were then translated, through a series of researchers, including Kip Thorne, Ronald Drever, and Barry Barish, into what would become LIGO. Barish led the final design stage, construction and commissioning of the LIGO interferometers in Livingston, La. and Hanford, Wash.

What they did: Ok, let's talk about these interferometers. For the past 25 years, the prize has been shared among multiple winners.

Laser beams shone through the tunnels and bounced off the mirrors meet at the corner of the L, where under normal conditions their light waves cancel each other out.

The two detectors are thousands of miles apart for a reason.

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".

LSU's investment in gravitational-wave detection spans more than four decades, and is among the longest of the institutions contributing to the present discovery.

Weiss says it's odd to receive money for something you love doing. Those spotted have come from very distant black holes - extraordinarily dense objects whose existence was also predicted by Einstein - that smashed together to form a single, larger black hole. After scientists realised what they had discovered, they set out to find where it had come from, eventually locating the huge event between 0.6 to 1.4 billion light years away. The distance allows each detector to ensure that if they record an interference it's not because of something local but gravitational waves. But even you, dear reader, are creating changes in spacetime. That's how Robbert Dijkgraaf, director of the Institute for Advanced Study where Einstein worked, once described gravitational waves to me.

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