The LIGO Observatory in Hanford, WA. Courtesy Caltech

Two scientists from Caltech and one from MIT won the 2017 Nobel Prize in physics Tuesday for their discoveries in gravitational waves.

They are Barry Barish and Kip Thorne of Caltech and Rainer Weiss of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The waves were predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago but Einstein was certain they could never be measured. Barish said the prize announced by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Tuesday represented a victory for Einstein.

The German-born Weiss was awarded half of the $1.1 million prize amount while Thorne and Barish will split the other half.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the three Americans were being recognized  “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves.”

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO, which was built to look for gravitational waves — ripples in the fabric of space and time — announced the detection of gravitational waves on Feb. 11, 2016.

And on Sept. 14 2015, the universe’s gravitational waves were observed for the first time and determined to have resulted from a collision between two black holes. It took 1.3 billion years for the waves to arrive at the LIGO detector in the U.S.

The signal was extremely weak when it reached Earth, but scientists say it promises a revolution in astrophysics, gravitational waves being a new way of observing the most violent events in space.

LIGO is a collaborative project with over 1,000 researchers from more than 20 countries.

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.