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Nobel Prize in Physics goes to gravitational wave scientists

October 3, 2017 10:07 AM
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Nobel Prize in Physics goes to gravitational wave scientists

The Nobel Physics Prize 2017 has been awarded to three scientists for their discoveries in gravitational waves.

The three are Rainer Weiss of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Barry Barish and Kip Thorne of the California Institute of Technology.

Speaking by phone during a live announcement of the prize on Tuesday, Weiss said he views the prize as something that recognizes the efforts of people who have been working on this topic for decades.

He said in the future, researchers hope to improve the sensitivity of their detectors to look "deeper and deeper" into the universe.

"The waves, which were predicted by Albert Einstein a hundred years ago, came from a collision between two black holes," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a news release announcing the 2017 physics prize.

The waves were detected by the U.S.-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory.

"The signal was extremely weak when it reached Earth, but is already promising a revolution in astrophysics," the Nobel news release said.

Weiss told reporters who had gathered for the Nobel announcement that the first time he heard the sound of the gravitational waves, many didn't believe it was finally happening.

The 2017 prize being announced Tuesday by Sweden's Royal Academy of Sciences comes with a roughly $1.3 million Cdn prize. For the past 25 years, the prize has been shared among multiple winners.

The 2016 prize went to three British-born researchers who applied the mathematical discipline of topology to help understand the workings of exotic matter such as superconductors and superfluids. In 2014, a Japanese and a Canadian shared the physics prize for studies that proved that the elementary particles called neutrinos have mass.

This year's Nobel medicine prize went Monday to three Americans studying circadian rhythms — better known as body clocks: Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young.


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