Press Release

Physicists Played Vital Role in Validating Detection of Gravitational Waves

By SpaceRef Editor
October 3, 2017
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Today, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 2017 [] to physicists Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish, and Kip S. Thorne, for “decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves.” In this video [], Kip S. Thorne talks about the detection of gravitational waves as a guest speaker at Cornell University in April 2016.

Cornell physicists, who played a vital role in validating the detection of gravitational waves, comment on the news and are available for interviews.

Cornell physics and astronomy professor Saul Teukolsky [] has been using supercomputers to solve Einstein’s equations for black hole mergers for much of his career. Teukolsky and the Cornell-founded Simulation of eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) collaboration group have been calculating and completing a full catalog of theoretical solutions since 2000, when supercomputers first became capable of the task.

Teukolsky says:

“Einstein’s theory was written down 100 years ago. It made bizarre predictions about warped space and time, including the existence of black holes and gravitational waves. This remarkable experiment has detected gravitational waves and confirmed that they came from colliding black holes far away from the earth.

“The Prize celebrates a remarkable experiment, and Cornell was honored to play a role in the theoretical work that backed up the great discovery.”

Lawrence Kidder [] is a senior research associate and a co-leader of the SXS collaboration. He says the Prize is well deserved because the work has opened up a new window in astronomy that allows new insights into black holes and neutron stars.

Kidder says:

“The ability to directly observe gravitational waves has opened up a new window in astronomy that will allow new observations of the most compact objects in the universe such as black holes and neutron stars, which are complementary to electromagnetic observations in visible light, x-rays, gamma-rays, radio, etc.

“By combining gravitational wave and electromagnetic observations, astrophysicists will gain new insights into black holes and neutron stars. The observations will also allow new tests to see if Einstein’s theory of general relativity is the correct theory of gravity.

“It is exciting, and a richly deserved honor for the recipients and over one thousand other researchers that participated in the experiment. It is very satisfying that our group at Cornell contributed to the theoretical work used to interpret the discovery.”

SpaceRef staff editor.