This year, a discovery regarding gravitational waves has received an award. Science magazine has awarded a scientific paper with 2016 Breakthrough of the Year Award. The team of scientists working on this project has developed and operated their invention, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO). The award was announced on December 22 in Science magazine.
This prize is known to be only one of many other recognitions which were already won by this team of scientists in the past due to their hard work and dedication. Back in 1915, Albert Einstein was the first who predicted gravitational waves. Unfortunately, scientists needed a hundred years to obtain the first direct detection which registered this phenomenon.
In February 2016, the LIGO team has issued an announcement regarding the first direct detection of the space-time waves, generated by two black holes which collided together. Besides several other significant accomplishments, Einstein had also revealed that time and space should not be regard at separate notions. They create a universal fabric used as a gateway by all astronomical objects.
Huge objects have the ability to expand and bend that material, generating gravity. Massive cosmic objects which travel through space and time are bound to create waves or ripples. LIGO was specially built to detect these ripples. This team of scientists has established the existence of two different signals which indicate this type of waves.
These gravitational waves were generated due to the collision of two black holes which circled each other, merging into a single entity. In space, these gravitational ripples do not have a significant impact. The equipment used by LIGO was described as being the most accurate one, enabling precise measurements. This represents part of the reason why scientists needed so much time to register these ripples directly.
This surprising finding shook the world of science in 2016. However, indirect proof of the existence of gravitational waves was first revealed back in the 1970s. The LIGO managed to win this valuable prize due to their fundamental research which brought necessary proofs to the world of science. Some scientists, instead of characterizing this as being the end of a story, they are now thinking about the formation of a new scientific field known as gravitational wave astronomy.
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