Special Breakthrough Award: 1012 scientists were involved in the remarkable discovery which also included 37 scientists from Indian institutes. Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Indian scientists for receiving the prestigious award.
LIGO scientists that led to the confirmation of Albert Einstein’s gravitational have won $3 million Special Breakthrough Award. The breakthrough achieved in February this year has been widely regarded as the biggest discovery of the century.
For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.
Gravitational waves carry information about their dramatic origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot otherwise be obtained. Physicists have 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.
The gravitational waves were detected on September 14, 2015 at 5:51 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (09:51 UTC) by both of the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors, located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington, USA. The LIGO Observatories are funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and were conceived, built, and are operated by Caltech and MIT. The discovery, accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters, was made by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (which includes the GEO Collaboration and the Australian Consortium for Interferometric Gravitational Astronomy) and the Virgo Collaboration using data from the two LIGO detectors.
The Special Breakthrough Prize started back in 2012 and since then it has been awarded each year for special discoveries and breakthroughs in mathematics, physics, and the life sciences. Winners get a handsome price of $3 million. The award will be presented at a ceremony this year.
In addition, the prize money will be shared between all the 1012 scientists and the LIGO lab itself. $1 million will go to three conceives of LIGO – Kip Thorne, Ray Weiss and Ron Drever – while remaining $2 million will be shared by 1,012 scientists who helped discover the gravitational waves (just under Rs.1.32 lakh each).
1012 scientists were involved in the remarkable discovery which also included 37 scientists from Indian institutes. Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Indian scientists for receiving the prestigious award.
“These scientists have been awarded for detection of gravitational waves, an exceptional scientific accomplishment”, the Prime Minister said.
Previously PM Modi had announced that India will open its own LIGO laboratory for the research purposes. “Recently the Gravitational Waves have been discovered by the scientific community of the world, which is indeed a major achievement. We should be proud of the fact that Indian scientists were also part of it. Keeping this in mind, we have taken a decision to open a LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) in India,” said Prime Minister Modi.
Scientists have started working on the project LIGO India and currently they are finalising the sites for setting up the lab. The project is expected to become operational in next seven years.
Moreover, the Breakthrough Prize was founded by leading entrepreneurs Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang, Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki, Yuri and Julia Milner and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, and it is funded by a Milner Foundation grant. Previous winners of the award include Sir Stephen Hawkings.