The Physics World 2016 Breakthrough of the Year goes to “the LIGO Scientific Collaboration for its revolutionary, first-ever direct observations of gravitational waves”.
Congratulations to the University of Mississippi – Physics and Astronomy faculty and students who are part of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration team named Physics World Breakthrough of the Year for 2016 for their gravitational wave discovery:
Mohammad Afrough, graduate student; Camillo Cocchieri, visiting scholar; Marco Cavaglia, associate professor; Katherine Dooley, assistant professor; and Jared Wofford and Hunter Gabbard, both undergraduate research assistants.
Physics World wrote:
Almost exactly 100 years after they were first postulated by Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity, gravitational waves hit the headlines in 2016 as the US-based LIGO collaboration detected two separate gravitational-wave events using the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (aLIGO). The first observation was made on 14 September 2015 and was announced in February this year. A second set of gravitational waves rolled through LIGO’s detectors on 26 December 2015, and this so-called “Boxing Day event” was announced in June this year. Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space–time, and these observations mark the end of a decades-long hunt for these interstellar undulations.
The measurements also herald the start of the era of gravitational-wave astronomy and multi-messenger astronomy, whereby gravitational-wave observations are combined with those made by optical and radio telescopes and other detectors observing the cosmos. Indeed, LIGO’s twin detectors will soon be joined by a global network of gravitational-wave detectors.
The breakthrough was chosen by a panel of four Physics World editors and reporters, and the criteria for judging included:
- fundamental importance of research;
- significant advance in knowledge;
- strong connection between theory and experiment; and
- general interest to all physicists.