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04 October 2017, 12:25 | Bernard Bryant
Rainer Weiss of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.
Two Jewish scientists awarded the Nobel prize on Tuesday for opening up a new era of astronomy by detecting gravitational waves said they hoped the attention would make Americans less inclined to dismiss scientific consensus in favor of politics.
If gravitational waves are at play, the laser light will have travelled a slightly different distance and that variation is detected.
Rainer Weiss of MIT shared the prize with Barry Barish of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Kip Thorne of Caltech for their work on an observatory that measures gravitational waves. It's designed so that if a gravitational wave passes by, it will stretch space along one direction of the tunnel and squish space along the direction of the other. They told the world a year ago that they had spotted gravitational waves travelling through the universe, which were caused by two massive black holes circling around each other before eventually colliding.
Scientists from the University of Glasgow's Institute for Gravitational Research led on the conception, development, construction and installation of the sensitive mirror suspensions in the heart of the LIGO detectors.
A year ago the Nobel prize in physicsbecame a British scientists David Taules, Duncan, GILDAN and Michael Costells. "We have unlocked this new window of the Universe, and we're just starting to peek in", says Laura Cadonati, a LIGO collaborator and professor of physics at Georgia Institute of Technology. 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".
"The 2017 Nobel Laureates have, with their enthusiasm and determination, each been invaluable to the success of LIGO", said the Royal Swedish Academy. But the physics world had widely anticipated this one and the three researchers, along with others, have won a series of major prizes and commendations for the work. Gravitational wave astronomy is a way of mapping out some of the most violent processes in the universe such as black hole or neutron star mergers that can not be detected with light or the conventional methods. He argued that every object in the Universe warps the space and time around it, and when an object moves, it creates ripples in this space-time - gravitational waves - a bit like ripples in a pond. In the 1980s, Weiss and Thorne - along with Ronald Drever, who died this past March - proposed building a facility that could detect the gravitational waves that had been predicted by Albert Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity.
Here is a list of the 10 most recent Nobel Physics Prize winners, after the 2017 prize was awarded on Tuesday to three United States astrophysicists for the discovery of gravitational waves. The Nobel Prize was awarded for the fundamental discovery of neutrino oscillations and properties.
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