CAMBRIDGE (CBS) — A Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist is among three men who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for their discoveries of gravitational waves.
Rainer Weiss, an 85-year-old emeritus professor at MIT, had been working on detecting gravitational waves for 40 years.
“Nobody really knew for sure that all the technology would work well,” Weiss told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Ben Parker of his research. “And the other thing is that nature would be kind enough to have all these sources that we’re now seeing.”
He shares the prize with Barry Barish and Kip Thorne of the California Institute of Technology.
“It’s quite awe-inspiring to think that somehow the three of us got mixed up with a prize that was won by the giants of this science,” he said. “It’s amazing.”
The faint ripples in the universe were first predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago as part of his theory of general relativity, but went unproven until September 2015.
“In fact, he was skeptical himself later on in his life about the whole idea of gravitational waves,” Weiss said of Einstein. “In the 1930s, he wrote a paper with one of his colleagues sort of questioning whether they existed at all. And then he died, and it’s a real pity that he isn’t around right now to tell this thing to.”
The waves they detected came from the collision of two black holes. Studying the waves may help humans better understand the universe.
“What we see with this technique is we see the actual motions that go on inside the stars or inside the galaxies or inside other systems that we’re looking at,” Weiss said.
Weiss said this opens a new branch of science.
“There’s a huge future here in what we call now gravitational wave astronomy,” he said. “This is now, for man, this is going to continue, because this is another tool to look at the world around us.”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Ben Parker reports