Nobel Prize in Physics goes to US scientist with German roots

Oct 11, 2017

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics goes to the American scientists Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne for the detection of gravitational waves. Actually observing the waves is a sensational breakthrough. Rainer Weiss was born in Berlin and emigrated to the USA as a child to escape the Nazis.

Nobelpreismedaille Enlarge image (© picture allliance/dpa/Lovisa Engblom) A scientific milestone

Albert Einstein described gravitational waves one hundred years ago. US researchers Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne have finally proven that they exist, and for this work they have been awarded the highest accolade available to physicists. In his announcement of this year's prizewinners, Göran Hansson, the Secretary General of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, described it as a discovery that shook the world.

The three researchers made a decisive contribution to the construction of the two LIGO detectors in America, with which gravitational waves were observed for the first time ever two years ago. For a few moments, these waves caused the Earth to reverberate and revealed a side of the Universe which had until then remained unseen.

Nobelpreis in Physik für Weiss, Barish und Thorne Enlarge image (© picture alliance / abaca ) Emigration to the USA

Nobel Laureate Rainer Weiss was born in Berlin in 1932, the son of a Jewish doctor. He fled with his family from the Nazi regime, travelling first to Prague, and ultimately to the United States of America. Weiss studied and went on to conduct important research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he is a now a Professor Emeritus. His biography and emigration are also symptomatic of the brain drain from Germany triggered by the Nazi regime.

Last updated 04.10.2017

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