Prize comes quickly for LIGO masterminds
From left: Bryce Vickmark; Caltech; R. Hahn/Wikimedia Commons
Subtle cosmic vibrations kicked up by swirling black holes have captured the public imagination — and the minds of the physics Nobel Prize committee members, too.
Three scientists who laid the groundwork for the first direct detection of gravitational waves have won the Nobel Prize in physics. Rainer Weiss of MIT, and Kip Thorne and Barry Barish, both of Caltech, will share the 9-million-Swedish-kronor (about $1.1 million) prize, with half going to Weiss and the remainder split between Thorne and Barish.
Though researchers often wait decades for Nobel recognition, the observation of gravitational waves was so monumental that the scientists were honored less than two years after the discovery’s announcement.
“These detections were so compelling and earth shattering…. Why wait?” says Clifford Will of the University of Florida in Gainesville, who was not directly involved with the discovery.