Based scientists earn Nobel Prize for work on gravitational waves

Posted October 04, 2017

Alfred Nobel created five prizes in his 1895 will for medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and peace.

Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards congratulated physicists from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in Livingston Parish for being awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Kip Thorne making the announcement previous year. The first detection of the waves created a scientific sensation when it was announced early past year and the teams involved in the discovery had been widely seen as favourites for Tuesday's prize.

Nobel prizes are given by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Weiss seconded that sentiment during a news conference, saying that the Nobel "recognizes the work of a thousand people".

He added Tuesday's announcement was "a win for Einstein, and a very big one". The discovery, which was announced publicly in 2016, confirmed predictions made 100 years ago by Albert Einstein.

The concept is somewhat awe-inspiring.On a small scale, every movement we've ever made has wiggled the physical Jell-o of spacetime that defines everything around us, propelling waves that stretch and squeeze space itself.

LSU's pioneering role in this science began in 1970 with the arrival of William Hamilton, now professor emeritus, who along with Physics Professor Warren Johnson, built and operated previous-generation cryogenic bar gravitational wave detectors on campus for many years. But the truly incredible achievement was to make the LIGO detectors.

Weiss devised an interferometer that blocked out or accounted for all types of earthly interference: seismic noise, gravitational field gradients, heat gradients, laser instabilities, on and on.

Laser beams and mirrors were installed in each tunnel, arranged so that the beams' interference patterns could register changes in spatial dimensions to the accuracy of far less than the width of a proton. The first discovery revealed the merger of star-sized black holes that were more massive than theorists had thought possible. These waves, foretold for the first time by Albert Einstein a century ago, come from the collision between two black holes.

"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".

"This is something completely new and different, opening up unseen worlds", the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement.

Although three winners were announced, the award is being split in half - one half to Weiss and the other to Barish and Thorne.

For the past 25 years, the physics prize has been shared among multiple winners.

Moving forward, astronomers are working on methods for combining gravitational wave data and electromagnetic data to study cosmic sources.

The CSU group of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration is led by University Distinguished Professor Carmen Menoni, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The discovery is considered huge and is expected to pave new paths in astrophysics. "I think this will become one of the most popular Nobel Prize awards".