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Science

Nobel Prize in Physics awarded for gravitational wave discovery to Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne

Three US astrophysicists have been awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics for their first observation of universal gravitational waves. Albert Einstein first predicted the existence of the waves more than a century ago.

Schweden Stockholm Physik-Nobelpreis 2017 (Getty Images/Molly Riley)

2017 Physics Nobel Prize winners (left to right), Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne

Sweden's Royal Academy of Sciences announced on Tuesday that it had awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics to three US astrophysicists for their discovery of gravitational waves.

The discovery by Barry Barish, Kip Thorne and Rainer Weiss, Goran K. Hansson, head of the Academy said, "shook the world." 

The group was awarded the prestigious prize for their contribution to the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory) research project.

Weiss won half the prize, with Barish and Thorne sharing the other half.

Predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago as part of his theory of gravitational relativity, the waves were only first detected in 2015.

The scientists "who brought the project to completion, ensured that four decades of effort led to gravitational waves finally being observed," the Academy added in a press statement.

Speaking to the Academy minutes after learning of this Nobel win, researcher Rainer Weiss said "it's really wonderful."

Overjoyed by receiving the call that he had jointly won the Nobel Prize in Physics, Barish said Tuesday's announcement was "a win for Einstein, and a very big one."

The prize, established by the Swedish inventor of dynamite, Alfred Nobel, in 1895, is worth 9 million kronor (€938,949, $1.1 million).

In 2016, the prize went to three British-born researchers - David J. Thouless, F. Duncan M. Haldane and J. Michael Kosterlitz  for their work in applying topology to the workings of exotic matter such as superconductors and superfluids.

The prize has been shared among multiple winners for the past 25 years.

On Monday, the Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to American trio Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young for their work on circadian rhythms, often called body clocks.

Wednesday is to see the announcement of the winner(s) of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, with the literature prize winner(s) to be announced on Thursday and the much-awaited peace prize winner(s) on Friday.

Watch video 00:44

Nobel Physics Prize for gravitational waves research

jlw,tj/rc (dpa, AFP, AP)

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