Test & Measurement
Scientists Who Made First Direct Detection of Gravitational Waves Awarded Nobel Prize
On October 3, 2017, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 2017 to scientists Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish, and Kip S. Thorne "for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and observation of gravitational waves."Almost 100 years ago, Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves - ripples in the fabric of space-time that are set off by extremely violent, cosmic cataclysms in the early universe. In September, 2015, for the first time, scientists in the LIGO Scientific Collaboration directly observed the ripples of gravitational waves in an instrument on Earth. In so doing, they have again dramatically confirmed Einstein's theory of general relativity, and opened up a new way in which to view the universe. According to their calculations, the gravitational wave is the product of a collision between two massive black holes, 1.3 billion light years away - a remarkably extreme event that has not been observed until now. The researchers detected the signal with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO). Building on these ground-based efforts, an international group of scientists is working to develop a space-based gravitational wave observatory called the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA). Dr. James Ira Thorpe developed instrumentation used on LISA. Read a Tech Briefs 'Who's Who at NASA' with Thorpe.