UofG scientists win gravitational waves prize

Issued: Tue, 10 May 2016 07:39:00 BST

Just months after being involved in one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs of the decade, University of Glasgow scientists involved in the gravitational waves discovery have won a share of a top international prize.

Gravitational Waves 450

A third of the $3m (£2.04m) Yuri Milner Breakthrough Prize Foundation in Fundamental Physics will be shared among three of the founders of the ‘LIGO’ gravitational waves observatory with the remainder shared among the team of scientists involved in the research.

The founders

The founders of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) group - which included Kip Thorne (Emeritus Caltech); Rainer Weiss (Emeritus MIT); and Professor Ronald Drever (Emeritus Caltech, formerly of Glasgow) - will share $1m equally between them.

A global partnership

The remaining $2m (£1.35m) will be shared equally among the 1,012 other researchers and engineers globally who worked on the LIGO team or contributed to the research, including scientists from the University of Glasgow’s Institute for Gravitational Research. Each receives about $2000 (£1350).

The prestigious prizes will be awarded at a formal ceremony later this year.

The award is in recognition of the monumental scientific breakthrough which finally confirmed once and for all one of the last great predictions of Albert Einstein's 1915 general theory of relativity.

Life long-quest

Scientists, including those here at Glasgow, helped create the technology to observe ripples in the fabric of space time called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe, opening an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos. To many University of Glasgow scientists it had been a life-long quest.

Reacting to the announcement, Professor Sheila Rowan, Director of the Institute for Gravitational Research at the University of Glasgow, said: "I'm absolutely delighted that the 2016 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics has been awarded for the observation of gravitational waves, and in particular that the committee chose specifically to share part of the prize amongst all the scientists and engineers who contributed to the discovery - the success of the field is built on the contributions of many people and it's terrific to see the whole LIGO team recognised."

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