LSU professor, others with Livingston Parish science observatory win Nobel Prize
LIVINGSTON – An LSU professor and other staff associated with the LIGO center in Livingston Parish which proved Albert Einstein's theory of relativity were awarded this year's Nobel Prize in Physics.
WBRZ.com reported extensively on the discovery in February 2016 – click HERE for more. Then, LIGO – short for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory – released its findings after it detected gravitational waves from the collision of two black holes in space 1.3 billion years ago. Gravitational waves carry information about the origins and nature gravity that could not otherwise be obtained.
LSU Adjunct Professor and MIT Professor Emeritus Rainer Weiss and California Institute of Technology professor emeriti Kip Thorne and Barry Barish were awarded the Nobel Prize for their roles. One-half of the prize was awarded to Weiss and the other half is shared by Thorne and Barish. Weiss and Thorne are co-founders of the LIGO/VIRGO Collaboration. Barish led the final design stage, construction and commissioning of the LIGO facility in Livingston, La. and a similar one in Hanford, Washington.
The Livingston and Washington state locations function as L-shaped interferometers. Laser light is split into two beams that travel back and forth down 2.5-mile arms that are four feet in diameter. The tubes are kept under a near-perfect vacuum. The beams are used to monitor the distance between mirrors positioned at the end of the arms. Einstein believed that despite being fixed, the distance between mirrors will change by an amount so small humans can't detect it when gravitational waves pass through the detector.
“We are thrilled for Rai, Kip and Barry to be named Nobel Laureates and are proud of the work done by many people over many decades in the [collaborative effort]…. and continue their vision,” Gabriela González, LSU professor of physics and astronomy said about the awards.
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