Scientific community shocked that LIGO did not win Nobel Prize in Physics

Many are wondering why the Nobel Prize in Physics was not awarded to work done on gravitational waves.
By Cliff Mooneyham | Oct 12, 2016
Many are wondering why the Nobel Prize in Physics was not awarded to work done on gravitational waves.

The 2016 Nobel Peace Prize in Physics was awarded to David J. Thouless, Duncan M. Haldane and J. Michael Kosterlitz for their work in exotic phases of matter. The Royal Swedish Academy praised the trio for their "theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter."

TheWashington Post had the LIGO project as heavily favored to win the distinction for their discovery of gravitational waves. (LIGO) the Laser Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatory found ripples in spacetime caused by a black hole merger over a billion years ago.

The scientific community has expressed confusion as to how LIGO missed out on the award. One explanation is that LIGO only publicly announced its findings in February, which might have been too late. Another is that over 1, 000 scientists worked on the LIGO project. Only three people can be awarded the Nobel Prize for any one Physics project.

Three founders, Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne, and Ronald Drever, have been suggested as the representatives. Former LIGO Director, Barry Barish, who revived the project in the 1990's, would also have a strong claim.

"I think there's a bit of truth that LIGO wouldn't be here if I didn't do it," commented Barish. "If they (the Nobel Committee) wait a year and give it to these three guys, at least I'll feel that they thought about it. If they decide this October, I'll have more bad feelings because they won't have done their homework."


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