The University of Chicago’s Daniel Holz this morning saluted the three newest Nobel laureates in physics, with whom he worked as a member of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. The Nobel Foundation honored Kip Thorne, Rainer Weiss and Barry Barish “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves."
The detection, made Sept. 14, 2015, confirmed a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity. Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of spacetime, and they carry information about their dramatic origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot otherwise be obtained. Physicists concluded that the detected gravitational waves were produced during the final fraction of a second of the merger of two black holes to produce a single, more massive spinning black hole.
This collision of two black holes had been predicted but never observed. Gravitational waves from two more pairs of colliding black holes have subsequently been detected.