Nobel Prize In Physics 2017 Awarded To Gravitational Wave Scientists

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2017 has been awarded to Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne for their instrumental role in the discovery of gravitational waves.

First theorised by Einstein a hundred years ago, gravitational waves are ripples in the very fabric of space and time itself caused by unimaginably powerful cosmic events.

They were first observed on 14 September 2015 and came from a cataclysmic collision between two black holes that took 1.3 billion years to reach Earth.

Using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), scientists were able to use two giant lasers interferometers to detect minute changes thousands of times smaller than an atomic nucleus.

While Einstein had predicted these waves a century ago he was convinced that we would never be able to detect them.

By actually measuring the ripples caused by these huge cosmic events we can see further into the universe and in turn further back in time than ever before.

How does LIGO work?

LIGO is a vast complex based out in the US that uses two vast laser interferometers to detect what are quite simply ripples in space and time.

The huge observatory consists of two 4km tunnels connected in an ‘L’ shape.

They then fire a powerful laser which is then split down the L in two directions. Mirrors are then used to bounce the light back onto a huge detecter.

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