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US Scientists Win Nobel Physics Prize For Detecting Gravitational Waves

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Three U.S. scientists have won the 2017 Nobel prize in physics for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves.

Barry Clark Barish and Kip Stephen Thorne from the California Institute of Technology, and Rainer Weiss from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are the winners. They are members of the Ligo-Virgo observatories, which were responsible for the breakthrough.

After more than four decades of effort, in September 2015, the universe's gravitational waves were observed for the first time. The waves, which were predicted by Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity a hundred years ago, 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.

Einstein was convinced that it would never be possible to measure the gravitational waves.

The LIGO project's achievement was using a pair of gigantic laser interferometers to measure a change thousands of times smaller than an atomic nucleus, as the gravitational wave passed the Earth.

Rainer "Rai" Weiss, 82, is a German by birth. He is a professor of physics emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is best known for inventing the laser interferometric technique which is the basic operation of LIGO.

A leading expert on gravitational waves, Barry Clark Barish (81) is a Linde Professor of Physics, emeritus at California Institute of Technology.

Kip Stephen Thorne, 77, was the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology, and is one of the world's leading experts on the astrophysical implications of Einstein's general theory of relativity.

The prize worth 9 million Swedish krona ($1.10 million) was announced by Professor Göran K. Hansson, Secretary General of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

One half of the prize money will be awarded to Rainer Weiss, and the other half will be equally divided between Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne.

by RTT Staff Writer

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