MIT Kavli Institute Directory

Rainer Weiss

Professor of Physics, Emeritus Faculty


June 2, 2016: Rainer Weiss wins Kavli Prize in Astrophysics. LIGO inventor shares award for direct detection of gravitational waves.

 

Research interests: 

Currently working on the LIGO project, a joint Caltech and MIT effort, to observe gravitational waves and use them to study gravitation and astrophysics. My role now is to be the equivalent of a grad student. Very much enjoy this. Over the years have worked on cosmological studies with Robert Dicke and David Wilkinson at Princeton. Began physics in atomic beams with John King and Jerrold Zacharias at MIT.

Honors and awards: 

June 2, 2016: Rainer Weiss wins Kavli Prize in Astrophysics. LIGO inventor shares award for direct detection of gravitational waves. Weiss will share the prize, including a cash award of $1 million, with Ronald Drever, emeritus professor of physics at Caltech, and Kip Thorne, Caltech’s Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, emeritus. The three scientists, who are co-founders of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), have received the prize for the direct detection of gravitational waves, according to the award citation:

“This detection has, in a single stroke and for the first time, validated Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity for very strong fields, established the nature of gravitational waves, demonstrated the existence of black holes with masses 30 times that of our sun, and opened a new window on the universe.”

Weiss has received numerous awards and honors, including the 2003 Medaille de l’ADION, the 2006 Gruber Prize in Cosmology, and the 2007 Einstein Prize of the American Physical Society. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Physical Society, as well as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Earlier this year, Weiss received a Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics and the 2016 Gruber Prize in Cosmology, both shared with Drever and Thorne. The three co-founders were also awarded the Shaw Prize in Astronomy on May 31, 2016.