Three American physicists have won the Nobel prize in physics for the first observations of gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of space-time.
US astrophysicists Barry Barish, Kip Thorne and Rainer Weiss were awarded the Nobel Physics Prize today.
Predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago as part of his theory of general relativity, but only detected in 2015, gravitational waves are “ripples” in space-time, as the theoretical fabric of the cosmos is called.
They are caused by ultra-violent processes, such as colliding black holes or the collapse of stellar cores.
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 on Tuesday. Kip Thorne and Barry Barish will share the other half of the prize.
Prof Olga Botner, a member of the Nobel committee for physics, described this as “a discovery that shook the world”.
A hundred years ago, Albert Einstein predicted that such a massive collision would distort the very fabric of space and time itself.
Like a stone cast into a pond, the cataclysmic disturbance would ripple outward at the speed of light, filling the ocean of the universe with gravitational waves. Einstein, however, never thought it would be possible to detect such waves.