Congratulations to Dr. Rainer Weiss, Dr. Kip Thorne, and Dr. Barry Barish for winning the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics! The prize is awarded for their pioneering work that led to the detection of gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime that were first predicted by Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity in 1915. Drs. Weiss and Thorne co-founded the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory, or LIGO, two detectors in the United States run by a global collaboration of more than 1,000 scientists, which Dr. Barish directed for eight years. In September 2015, the detectors picked up a signal from a passing gravitational wave that had been hurtling through space for 1.3 billion years, the result of two black holes colliding in the distant universe. This groundbreaking accomplishment not only proved that the gravitational waves of Einstein’s conception are real, but that they can be used to study the universe, opening up a new window to the physics of the deep past.
We extend our congratulations to all of the members of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, with special acknowledgment to its former spokesperson Gabriela González.