The noble prize in physics for 2017 was awarded to three American physicists for their work in detection of gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime that were 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 on Tuesday. Kip Thorne and Barry Barish will share the other half of the prize.
All three scientists have played leading roles in the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or Ligo, experiment, which in 2015 made the first historic observation of gravitational waves triggered by the violent merger of two black holes a billion light-years away.
Prof Olga Botner, a member of the Nobel committee for physics, described this as “a discovery that shook the world”. The Ligo detections finally confirmed Einstein’s century-old prediction that during cataclysmic events the fabric of spacetime itself can be stretched and squeezed, sending gravitational tremors out across the universe like ripples on a pond.