Three American physicists have won the Nobel prize in physics for the discovery of spacetime gravitational waves.
Albert Einstein was the first on the lookout for these about a century ago.
Rainer Weiss has been awarded one half of the 9m Swedish kronor (£825,000) prize, announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm today.
Kip Thorne and Barry Barish will share the other half of the prize.
On Wednesday, the Nobel Prize for Chemistry will be awarded while Thursday and Friday will see the announcement for the Prizes for Literature and the Nobel Peace Prize.
All three scientists contributed immensely to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or Ligo, experiment, which made the first historic observation of gravitational waves in September 2015.
However, Weiss, emeritus professor of physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is made a major contribution to the concept, design, funding and eventual construction of Ligo.
Einstein’s general theory of relativity predicts that the presence of mass causes a curvature in spacetime. When massive objects merge, this curvature can be altered, sending ripples out across the universe.
These are known as gravitational waves.By the time these disturbances reach us, they are almost imperceptible. It was only a century after Einstein’s prediction that scientists developed a detector sensitive enough – the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory or Ligo – and were able to confirm the existence of gravitational waves.
The impact of their research is varied. Asides from a better understanding of outer-space and a better understanding of concepts like gravity and electromagnetic radiation, the Ligo experiment is helping in areas like cryogenics which could advance areas like organ transplants and open heart surgeries in medical science.
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Image Credits: Nobel Prize