The first chapter of 2017 Nobel Prize in physics was written years back when theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, in 1916, seeded the idea of gravitational waves into the minds of thousands of aspiring physicists. Now, after 101 years later, three Americans, Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne, have won the Nobel prize this year for proving that the "the dopey one" was nothing short of accurate to predict the gravitational waves.
All these three physicists are members of the LIGO-Virgo detector collaboration that discovered gravitational waves and they were awarded the apex honor "for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves," stated the committee in a news release.
"This year's prize is about a discovery that shook the world," said the Nobel committee representative Göran K. Hansson.
Albert Einstein had predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916, as per the LIGO website of MIT and it took humanity a century to finally detect this distortion.
One of the three recipients Weiss, who was born in Berlin and is now a U.S. citizen, is a physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), while the other two, Barish and Thorne, both work at the California Institute of Technology (CALTECH).
"When we first discovered them back in September 2015, many of us didn't believe it," stated one excited Weiss, reported NYT. As per Weiss, it took the three of them months to actually get convinced that they have detected gravitational waves.
Twin LIGO detectors were deployed by the team at Livingston, La., and Hanford, Wash. As per the report, two black holes had collided more than a billion light-years away and converted a mass, equivalent to that of three Suns, into energy. As the belch thundered passed by the Earth, the twin detectors registered the wave as a spike in frequency, which has been nicknamed the "cosmic chirp."
The detectors sensed three more gravitational waves since last year. The latest one was announced by both the LIGO detectors and the Italy-based Virgo detector in September.
"It is unfortunate that, due to the statutes of the Nobel Foundation, the prize has to go to no more than three people, when our marvelous discovery is the work of more than a thousand," said Thorne in a news release.
"I always wanted to be an experimental physicist and was attracted to the idea of using continuing advances in technology to carry out fundamental science experiments that could not be done otherwise," stated Barish. "LIGO is a prime example of what couldn't be done before."