MIT professor wins Nobel Prize in Physics

04 October, 2017, 00:24 | Author: Becky Perry
  • Artist's illustration of two black holes merging

Barish and Kip S. Thorne have won the 2017 Nobel Prize in physics for helping uncover one of the biggest mysteries in modern physics: Gravitational Waves.

Gravitational waves from the black hole collision 1.3 billion years ago were detected on September 14, 2015, by twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors in Louisiana and Washington sate, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration team said in February 2016.

A professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics. More on that later....

One-half of the prize was awarded to Weiss, and the other half will be shared by Thorne and Barish. LSU says faculty, staff and researchers are major contributors to the worldwide LIGO Science Collaboration.

Barry Barish of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

"Anything that makes us take more seriously scientists, or economists, or chemists, or physicists or biologists, I think is helpful in times when things get distorted because of people not paying attention to all the facts", Barish said by phone.

What they did: Ok, let's talk about these interferometers.

What has one of this year's Nobel Prize winning physicist to do with making a Hollywood film a blockbuster? LIGO detects these disturbances when they disrupt the symmetry between the passages of identical laser beams traveling identical distances. The waves were detected by two observatories located in Livingston, La. and Hanford, Wash.

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Because gravitational waves are radically different from electromagnetic waves such as radio waves, visible light, infrared light and X-rays, they are expected to reveal previously inaccessible features.

Weiss devised an interferometer that blocked out or accounted for all types of earthly interference: seismic noise, gravitational field gradients, heat gradients, laser instabilities, on and on. He said the award was the result of the collaboration of 1,000 people involved in the LIGO project, which observed gravitational waves and confirmed a century-old theory by Albert Einstein.

A major upgrade to LIGO by the U.S. and its current global partners including the United Kingdom allowed for the detection of gravitational waves in September 2015.

The disruption behind such a shift would need to be enormous, given it is creating waves that move at the speed of light and distort the physical makeup of the universe. The waves were generated in the collision of two black holes with 29 and 36 times the mass of the sun 1.3 billion years ago.

The setup for the LIGO experiment looks like a giant L, with each side stretching about 2.5 miles long. The detection of black hole gravitational waves has been floated as a contender both this year and last.

The team led by Brito studied gravitational waves emitted by the "black hole plus cloud" system.

Gravitational waves are ripples in space and time that help scientists explore objects in space.

LIGO was originally proposed in the 1980s as a means for detecting gravitational waves. Thorne realized that pairs of spiraling neutron stars or black holes would be more powerful sources and encouraged experimenters to tailor LIGO to spot them, Teukolsky says.

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