Two of today’s Nobel Prize winners for the physics award associated with LIGO’s gravitational wave discovery celebrated their win most jubilantly, with the scene being something akin to that of a Hollywood red carpet premiere. They were not only surrounded by photographers, but also overjoyed fans and starstruck science fanatics snapping pictures on their personal devices, overjoyed that they were able to witness such revered researchers passing through.
The Los Angeles Times gave detail to the festivities, which took place at the California Institute of Technology itself. Kip Thorne and Barry Barish sipped champagne as they posed for pictures and autographs, as well as gave statements to the multiple members of press in attendance. One fourth-year student, Deepan Kishore Kumar, gushed over being able to see the two LIGO scientists in person, admitting that he set his alarm for close to 4 a.m. in order to watch Stockholm’s livestream of the Nobel Prize announcement. The two physicists, he went on to say, opened people’s eyes to a “new way to look at the universe.”
Other members of the LIGO team were also reportedly in attendance; Gautman Venugopalan, Aidan Brooks, Jameson Rollins, and Johannes Eichholz were all invited to join the party in celebration of the incredible honour that comes with being given a Nobel Prize. Kip Thorne wasted no time in paying tribute to the over 1000 scientists who worked on project GW170814, with many of these researchers hailing from all around the world. This award, he continued, belonged to these individuals just as much as it did to him and his colleagues.
Although they are most certainly grateful for the honour given to them by the Nobel Prize committee, two of the winners are hopeful that the outcome of this event will result to more than just being given a trophy and seeing their name in the headlines. Reuters has revealed that Kip Thorne and Rainer Weiss, the latter being an MIT emeritus professor with whom the CalTech alums split the award, have since voiced their concern regarding the modern distinction between scientific facts and political partisanship. The two LIGO scientists agree that, in this day and age, the burden of proof means significantly less than the ideologies of the party one stands with.
The biggest issue to date when it comes to this controversy is that of climate change; United States president Donald Trump has been quite clear on his view that this environmental issue is nowhere near as big a concern as people are making it out to be, and many of his follows have deemed the conflict non-existent. In addition, the fact that the 45th POTUS has indicated he would like to cut funding to the nation’s scientific research has done nothing to qualm the budding fears of these scientists.
The Los Angeles Times reports that, although the Nobel Prize committee’s decision to award this year’s physics honour to the three LIGO researchers was undoubtedly cause for celebration in the scientific community, it was not entirely unexpected. Both Thorne and Barish have since revealed that they had an inkling the committee was going to select them, with Barish having set his alarm for the time he anticipated he would receive the call informing him of the good news.
[Featured Image by Jae C. Hong/AP Images]