Society for Science & the Public alumni are doing amazing things. Today, Kip Thorne, an alum of the 1958 Westinghouse Science Talent Search, won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and gravitational waves.
Kip, a Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, will split half of the 9 million Swedish kronor with Barry Barish, also of Caltech, and the rest will go to Rainer Weiss of MIT, Science News reports.
Along with Barry and Rainer, Kip was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the first detection of gravitational waves. They have been awarded the Nobel Prize for “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves,” according to a press release from The Royal Swedish Academy of Science.
Kip was the keynote speaker at the 2015 Intel Science Talent Search Awards Gala, where he shared some exciting remarks about how he first began research on gravitational waves:
“In 1968, on my first trip to Russia, I met a superb experimental physicist named Vladimir Braginsky. He and an American named Joseph Weber were independently embarking on the quest for gravitational waves. From them I learned enough to convince me that this quest will likely succeed in my lifetime. And it was clear to me that this success will have a huge impact on human understanding of the universe. So, although gravitational waves were a controversial backwater at the time, I plunged vigorously into them, formulating a vision for the science we can extract from them – and with Rai Weiss at MIT and Ron Drever at Caltech, creating a Project called LIGO to find the waves and extract the information they carry. The fruits of that effort are nearly at hand: My colleagues and I expect rich discoveries to flow from LIGO within the next four years.”
Congratulations to Kip Thorne on this incredible accomplishment!