Three American physicists have won the Nobel prize in physics for the discovery of gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of space-time that were first anticipated by Albert Einstein a century ago.
Rainer Weiss has been awarded one half of the 9m Swedish kronor (£825,000) prize, announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm today. Kip Thorne and Barry Barish will share the other half of the prize.
All three scientists have played a leading role in the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or Ligo, experiment, which made the first historic observation of gravitational waves in September 2015.
Weiss, a professor of physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is an experimentalist and made a major contribution to the concept, design, funding and eventual construction of Ligo.
Kip Thorne, the Feynman professor of theoretical physics at California Institute of Technology, is a theorist and made crucial predictions of what the detection of a gravitational wave would actually look like and how to identify that signal within the data.
Barry Barish, a former particle physicist at California Institute of Technology (now emeritus professor) is widely credited for getting the experiment off the ground.
Ronald Drever, a Scottish physicist, who alongside Weiss and Thorne played a leading role in developing Ligo, died in March from dementia less than 18 months after gravitational waves were first detected. The Nobel prize is not normally awarded posthumously.
Last year’s prize went to three British physicists for their work on exotic states of matter that may pave the way for quantum computers and other revolutionary technologies.
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