Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to LIGO and gravitational wave detectors

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LIGO or the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory captured universe's gravitational waves on September 14 in 2015. Without having a second detector, there would have been many false positives from things like moving trucks and crashing waves, which would render the detection of gravitational waves impossible.

The gravitational waves discovered are oscillations in space-time created by the collision of the black holes. "It's really a dedicated effort that has been going on, I hate to tell you, for as long as 40 years, people trying to make a detection in the early days and then slowly but surely getting the technology together to do it".

"I was so much hoping for this wonderful news", said Vicky Kalogera, a gravitational-wave astrophysicist at Northwestern University who contributed to the historic detections of gravitational waves. Although Albert Einstein never imagined it possible to measure gravitational waves, the LIGO project was able to achieve this by using a pair of huge laser interferometers to measure a change as the gravitational wave passed the Earth. A European sister facility, known as VIRGO based in Italy, has also detected waves more recently.

Three American physicists have won the Nobel prize in physics for the discovery of spacetime gravitational waves.

LIGO, which stands for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, consists of two of these pieces of equipment, one located in Louisiana and another in Washington state.

Scottish scientists are celebrating their contribution to the breakthrough that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in physics. In 1903, when she received the Physics award, it was divided between Antoine Henri Becquerel, who got half the award ("in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by his discovery of spontaneous radioactivity"), and Pierre and Marie Curie, who split the other 50%-meaning they each received a quarter of the prize. The discovery revolutionized the field of astronomy, giving scientists a new way to study the mysterious, dark objects that lurk in the distant Universe. Rainer Weiss, 85 was born in Germany and works as a Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Professor Sheila Rowan, Director of the University of Glasgow's Institute for Gravitational Research, was one of the UK's leads on LIGO and welcomed the Nobel committee's decision.

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The first detection of the waves created a scientific sensation when it was announced past year and the teams involved had been widely seen as favourites for the prize.

Half of the $1.1 million prize went to Weiss, the remainder shared between Barish and Thorne.

"We already knew gravitational waves existed".

A Ligo Scientific Collaboration (LSC) member for more than 15 years, Kalogera is LSC's most senior astrophysicist.

He said that as the detectors develop and become more sensitive, scientists will be able to look deeper into the universe and gain more insights into the origins of the universe. "If we could hear all the waves and not only the strongest ones, the entire universe would be full of music, like birds chirping in a forest, with a louder tone here and a quieter one there", the Academy said.

Drever died this year; the Nobel Prize is not awarded posthumously.

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