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Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded to LIGO Black Hole Researchers

04 Octubre 2017, 05:07 | Verda Sainz

Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded to LIGO Black Hole Researchers

The 2017 Nobel Prize winners in Physics displayed on a computer screen and are from left Rainer Weiss Barry C. Barrish and Kip S. Thorne seen at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm on Tuesday

Then another. And another.

"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.

"It's a win for the human race as a whole", one of the recipients, Cal Tech's Kip Thorne told AP.

Scientists called discovery "the biggest scientific breakthrough" of the century. Here to tell us more about the award and give us a short physics lesson is NPR's science correspondent Joe Palca. A gravitational wave passing through the area of the detector causes a momentary subatomic-scale change in the length of one arm relative to the other. Thus, we could only hope to detect the largest events like the collision of two black holes. The first detection came from a crash 1.3 billion light-years away. Physicists concluded that the detected gravitational waves were produced during the final fraction of a second of the merger of two black holes to produce a single, more massive spinning black hole.

LIGO consists of two facilities, one in Hanford, Wash., and one in Livingston, La.

The European Space Agency is planning a multibillion-dollar probe to be launched in about 17 years that would look for gravitational waves from space.


Space-time is the mind-bending, four-dimensional way astronomers see the universe. He was born in 1932 in Berlin, Germany.

Barish, 81, joined the project in 1994 and helped bring it to completion.

Weiss also characterised some of the possible sources of noise that could disguise the gravitational wave signal, such as changes in beam power.

Weiss also overcame failure.

After flunking out of MIT, the young physicist went searching for affirmation when he stumbled into a technician's job at the Institute.

Despite his rocky undergraduate start, Weiss eventually graduated from MIT with bachelor and doctorate degrees before teaching there for almost four decades. "Through four decades of development of exquisitely sensitive instrumentation-pushing the capacity of our imaginations-we are now able to glimpse cosmic processes that were previously undetectable".


Thorne said he was a "little disappointed" that thousands other scientists who have worked on the project did not get to share the prize, adding: "Nevertheless I'm tremendously pleased to accept this" on their behalf.

Black holes emit no light, and can only be observed through gravitational waves that occur when they collide and violently merge - offering scientists a means of studying them.

Professor Alberto Vecchio, from the University of Birmingham's Institute of Gravitational Wave Astronomy, said this discovery will produce results for decades to come. "They have also been kind and patient mentors to many generations of scientists, including Stefan, Peter, and me", Brown said. "The best part is that this is just the beginning of a new roller-coaster exploration of the universe".

The physics world awoke to news of new Nobel Prize recipients today (Oct. 3).

Two of the United States scientists awarded the Nobel prize for opening up a new era of astronomy by detecting gravitational waves hope the attention will make Americans less inclined to dismiss scientific consensus in favour of politics.




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