Rainer Weiss, who was a postdoctoral researcher at the University, and Kip Thorne GS '65 received the Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday. They received the award “for decisive contributions to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory detector and the observation of gravitational waves” according to a by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
Weiss will receive half of the prize money, while Thorne was jointly awarded the other half of the prize money with Barry Barish, another LIGO collaborator.
“Early on, both Kip Thorne and Rainer Weiss were firmly convinced that gravitational waves could be detected and bring about a revolution in our knowledge of the universe,” the said in the press release.
Both Weiss and Thorne spearheaded work at LIGO, a collaborative project that seeks to measure and understand gravitational waves. The observatory is a large-scale physics experiment to built to detect gravitational waves. The first gravitational waves were detected at LIGO in 2015.
While at the University, Weiss completed cosmological studies research under the mentorship of Robert Dicke. Thorne worked in a research group with John Archibald Wheeler, which is where he first became interested in the study of black holes.
Weiss left the University to take a faculty position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1964, where he is now a professor emeritus of physics. Thorne took a research fellow position at Caltech after receiving his doctoral degree, and eventually became Professor of Theoretical Physics. He is now The Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, Emeritus at California Institute of Technology.