Three American physicists have won the Nobel prize in physics for the discovery of gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime that were first anticipated by Albert Einstein a century ago. 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 today. Kip Thorne and Barry Barish will share the other half of the prize.Rainer Weiss, Barry C Barish and Kip S Thorne win the 2017 Nobel prize in physics. The trio have been honoured for their work on constructing Ligo and the detection of gravitational waves. All three scientists have played a leading role in the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or Ligo, experiment, which made the first historic observation of gravitational waves in September 2015. Weiss, emeritus professor of physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is an experimentalist and made a major contribution to the concept, design, funding and eventual construction of Ligo.
Kip Thorne, the Feynman professor of theoretical physics at California Institute of Technology, is a theorist and made crucial predictions of what the detection of a gravitational wave would actually look like and how to identify that signal within the data.
Barry Barish, a former particle physicist at California Institute of Technology (now emeritus professor) is widely credited for getting the experiment off the ground. When he took over as the second director of Ligo in 1994, the project was at risk of being cancelled. Barish turned things around and saw it through to construction in 1999, and its first measurements three years later.