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Discovery of gravitational waves awarded Physics Prize

Updated tisdag 3 oktober 2017 kl 12.11
Published tisdag 3 oktober 2017 kl 11.30
Barry Barish: I had set my alarm for 02:40
(2:24 min)
The anouncement of the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2017.
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The anouncement of the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2017. Credit: Jonathan Nabckstrand/TT
The three laureates awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2017.
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The three laureates awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2017. Credit: Jessica Gow/TT

Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne are awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics "for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves".

The prize is divided in two, so that Dr Rainer Weiss receives one half, and Dr Barish and Dr Thorne share the other half.

"This year's prize is about a discovery that shook the world," said Göran Hansson, the permanent secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, as he announced the laureates on Tuesday.

The universe's gravitational waves were actually predicted by Albert Einstein a hundred years ago, but they were observed for the first time in September 2015. These waves came from a collision between two black holes and it took 1.3 billion years for the waves to reach the detector in the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in the USA.

"The signal was extremely weak when it reached Earth, but is already promising a revolution in astrophysics. Gravitational waves are an entirely new way of observing the most violent events in space and testing the limits of our knowledge," writes the Nobel Committee at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in a statement.

Rainer Weiss works at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), while Barry Barish and Kip Thorne both working at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. They are all American citizens, even though Rainer Weiss was born in Germany.

To listen to the sound of the gravitational waves, or to try to hear them, click on the link below.

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