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What Are Gravitational Waves? Exploring 'Discovery That Shook the World'

06 October 2017

Albert Einstein first predicted the existence of the waves more than a century ago. Or rather, hear them, since they are detected as if they were chirping sounds.

The discovery was both an experimental confirmation of a prediction of Albert Einstein's century-old theory of general relativity, which furnishes the current view of what gravity is, and the beginning of a new type of astronomy that uses GWs to look at extreme astrophysical events much as astronomers already use radio waves, light, X-rays and other types of electromagnetic radiation.

With the ₹1,500-crore Indian LIGO detector expected to be operational by 2024, India is expected to play a key role in utilising the discovery that many scientists say is bigger than X-ray or microwave radiation that gave unparalleled views of the universe.

Daniel Holz is an associate professor at the University of Chicago where he is studying astronomical phenomena including black holes, supernovae and dark matter.

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To verify that the detection made by LIGO was indeed a gravitational wave, painstaking work was done in analysing huge datasets and validating every aspect of the detection.

Kip Thorne said in his statement after receiving the Prize: "The prize rightfully belongs to the hundreds of LIGO scientists and engineers who built and perfected our complex gravitational-wave interferometers, and the hundreds of ... scientists who found the gravitational-wave signals in LIGO's noisy data and extracted the waves' information".

The Nobel Physics Prize 2017 has been awarded to three scientists for their discoveries in gravitational waves. One half of the 9 million Swedish kroner prize would go to Weiss, while the other half would be divided between Thorne and Barish. "We never could see colliding black holes before".

Barry Barish, one of the scientists sharing this year's Nobel Physics Prize, said he had set an alarm in anticipation of a call from the Nobel team - though when it did come it beat his alarm.

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The road to the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics ran through the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The prize has been shared among multiple winners for the past 25 years.

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

Click the following link for more info on LIGO and the Nobel Prize.

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What Are Gravitational Waves? Exploring 'Discovery That Shook the World'