2017 Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded to Scientists Behind LIGO’s Gravitational Wave Discoveries

The 2017 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded earlier Tuesday, October 3, with the honour being presented to three scientists this year. MIT’s Rainer Weiss divided up the over one million dollar prize with CalTech scientists Barry Barish and Kip Thorne, following LIGO’s ground-breaking discoveries of gravitational waves, the second of which was announced last Wednesday, September 27. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory first made headway in this area back in February of 2016.

The CalTech researchers have since reacted to news of the award, with the Los Angeles Times revealing that Kip Thorne was awoken by the ringing of his wife’s office phone at 2:15 in the morning, and given the time he was “pretty sure what the call was.” Barry Barish had been a little more anticipating of the committee’s decision to give this year’s Nobel Prize in physics to him and the other scientists in tribute to LIGO’s recent gravitational wave detection, having set his alarm for 2:45 a.m., with the call coming a mere four minutes prior.

MIT News gave detail to Rainer Weiss’s personal statement after hearing he and his colleagues had won the Nobel Prize. The 85-year-old German native immediately gave credit to all those who had worked on the LIGO project, officially dubbed GW170814, going on to say that without their help such a discovery would never have been possible. As such, the scientist associates the receiving of this award with the tremendous hard work put forth as a team into finally making the long sought-after detection.

Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish, and Kip Thorne have been making major headlines throughout social media, most specifically Twitter, ever since the news first broke of the committee’s decision. Dozens of users, both researchers and science fanatics alike, have been paying tribute to the LIGO discovery made by these three men and have been heavily congratulating them on receiving the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics.

The detection is indeed one to be revealed upon, given that Albert Einstein first predicted such a discovery a century ago, with the timing of LIGO’s first gravitational wave breakthrough lining up almost exactly to the date. An almost equally incredible fact to behold is that not too long ago, scientists believed the research being put into detecting ripples in space and time was, in fact, a dead end.

Merely a month before the first breakthrough was made, Science Magazine reported that theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss admitted that the previously bandied-about rumors regarding the detection of gravitational waves was nothing more than speculation. This caused quite the controversy among the scientific community, as the Arizona State University author was the one who had started the discussion in the first place, via multiple tweets posted on the subject.

[Featured Image by Jae C. Hong/AP Images]