3 Americans win Nobel Prize in physics for work on gravitational forces

By Sara Shayanian  |  Oct. 3, 2017 at 7:56 AM
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Oct. 3 (UPI) -- The 2017 Nobel Prize for physics was awarded Tuesday to three Americans for their contributions to the study of gravitational waves.

Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish, and Kip S. Thorne split the prize announced by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences early Tuesday.

"In the mid-1970s, Rainer Weiss had already analyzed possible sources of background noise that would disturb measurements, and had also designed a detector, a laser-based interferometer, which would overcome this noise," the Nobel announcement said.

"Early on, both Kip Thorne and Rainer Weiss were firmly convinced that gravitational waves could be detected and bring about a revolution in our knowledge of the universe."

The scientists were noted for their "invaluable" contributions to the success of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. Although Albert Einstein never imagined it possible to measure gravitational waves, the LIGO project was able to achieve this by using a pair of gigantic laser interferometers to measure a change as the gravitational wave passed the Earth.

Weiss earned a doctoral degree in 1962 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was a professor of physics at MIT, as well.

Barish earned his doctorate in 1962 from the University of California at Berkeley. He later became a professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology.

Thorne earned his Ph.D. from the Princeton University in 1965, later becoming a professor of theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology.

Other Nobel Prizes will be awarded over the next few days -- chemistry on Wednesday, literature on Thursday, peace on Friday and economics on Oct. 9.

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