It was announced last week that a trio of North American physicists were the winners of the Physics Noble Prize. They won the prize for their work related to the detection of gravitational waves. These waves occur when there is a collision of black holes, as well as when different types of significant cosmic events occur, all in space-time.
There is a prize of $1 million that is awarded to the winner so this was split amongst Barry Barrish and Kip Thorne from the California Institute of Technology and with Rainer Weiss who is from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
As a team, the managed to successfully design and create the specific detectors that were able to prove the existence of these waves.
It was a significant breakthrough and Göran Hansson, a Nobel committee member, said that this was a “discovery that shook the world.”
Thorne, in particular, is well-known in the world of science as he has authored a number of popular books that make difficult subjects such as gravity, time travel and worm holes relatable to those who are non-scientists.
The trio’s research spans more than four decades and Weiss, 85 years old, was awarded one half of the prize while the other two split the other half of the prize.
Their work was dubbed LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) by the committee and it allows scientists to hear gravitational waves in space.
While it was a risky project to undertake, it certainly paid off and is one of the biggest discoveries in a number of decades.