Nobel Prize awarded to scientists behind Livingston-based project

LIGO's three founders have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for its work in proving a 100-year-old prediction from Albert Einstein.

LIVINGSTON-  The celebration was on inside of a remote science lab, known as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO.

The party followed the announcement that LIGO's three founders have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for its work in proving a 100-year-old prediction from Albert Einstein.

"Some people compare it to being able to hear the universe," LIGO Lead Scientist Brian O'Reilly said. "So you can think that for all of human history, we've been looking at a silent movie of the universe and now we have sound to go with that silent movie."

In the past three years, LIGO's ground-breaking measuring capabilities have led to multiple detections of gravitational waves caused by the collision of black holes more than a billion years away.

Scientists say LIGO opens the door to seeing just how big our universe is, was, and will be, like putting on a new pair of glasses.

"It's the power to find that out; that to me is amazing," Cal Tech Postdoctoral Scholar AnaMaria Effler,  PhD (LSU), said. "And to have that ability recognized by the Nobel committee and by the world is also amazing."

The effort to reach this point spans 40 years, has cost more than $1 billion and has seen contributions from more than a thousand people, many from LSU.

The hope is now, with such an elite recognition of the project, the potential and the university connection, this project will able to grow even further.

"We think there's a lot to learn as we collect tens or eventually hundreds of these events," O'Reilly said. "It will tell us a lot about what's going on."

So the next generation of scientists may have a better understanding of what's to come.

In addition to the prestige of winning the Nobel Prize, the researchers get a nice award check of $1.1 million.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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