Galactic discovery in Southeast Louisiana leads to Nobel Prizes

Nobel Prize

Three US scientists have won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery of gravitational waves - a phenomenon first predicted by Albert Einstein a hundred years ago.

LSU Adjunct Professor and MIT Professor Emeritus Rainer Weiss and California Institute of Technology professor emeriti Kip Thorne and Barry Barish have been awarded this year's Nobel Prize in Physics.

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration has detected gravitational waves four times - first, on September 14, 2015, and most recently, on August 14, 2017.

Weiss in the 1970s designed a laser-based device that would overcome background noise that would disturb measurements of gravitational waves. More on that later....

Barish shared the award with Rainer Weiss of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Kip Thorne of the California Institute of Technology for their discoveries in faint ripples flying through the universe called gravitational waves.

LIGO is funded by the National Science Foundation.

"These gravitational waves will be powerful ways for the human race to explore the universe - not for the next few years or decades but for the next few centuries", Thorne, of the California Institute of Technology, told The Associated Press.

If Weiss and Thorne conceived of LIGO, Barish made it a reality.

The LIGO experiment is conducted in two, identical facilities - one in Louisiana and the other in Washington - and each is an L-shaped, two-mile-long interferometer.

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What they did: Ok, let's talk about these interferometers.

All three are now part of an exclusive club containing 204 previous winners of the Physics Nobel Prize. A beam splitter - a type of mirror - also sits directly in this corner.

The two detectors are thousands of miles apart for a reason. The project took more than 40 years. As a result, one reflected laser beam will be slightly behind the other.

Thorne, a longtime friend of world-famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, worked on the LIGO experiment which discovered gravitational waves in spacetime, a feature first predicted by Albert Einstein. Scientists model this "interference" pattern to determine whether a gravitational wave has passed through.

Gravitational waves spread at the speed of light, filling the universe.

Weiss says it's odd to receive money for something you love doing.

Three more black hole mergers have been detected since then, including one that received added confirmation from the Virgo gravitational-wave detector in Italy and was announced just last week. There were 39 authors from the same nine Indian institutions in the publication for the detection of the second black hole merger event. They did this using a highly sophisticated detector to "listen" in on the event around 1.8 Billion light-years away.

The project relied on two facilities in the US separated by 3,000 miles and a third in Italy (VIRGO) because it is unlikely that interferometers located far apart would feel the same local vibrations and the same time.

Mr Drever began his scientific career at the University of Glasgow before moving to the United States to work on gravitational wave detection at Caltech.

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