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  • The Breakthrough Prize trophy was created by Olafur Eliasson. “The whole idea for me started out with, ‘Where do these great ideas come from? What type of intuition started the trajectory that eventually becomes what we celebrate today?’” Like much of Eliasson's work, the sculpture explores the common ground between art and science. It is molded into the shape of a toroid, recalling natural forms found from black holes and galaxies to seashells and coils of DNA.
    Credit: Courtesy of the Breakthrough Prize
PMA, LIGO, physics
05/03/2016 13:41:40

LIGO Team Awarded Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics

The Selection Committee of the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics has announced a Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics recognizing the scientists and engineers who contributed to the detection of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO).

The $3 million award is being shared between two groups of laureates. The three founders of LIGO—Caltech's Ronald W. P. Drever, professor of physics, emeritus, and Kip S. Thorne, the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, emeritus; and MIT's Rainer Weiss, professor of physics, emeritus—will share $1 million equally. In addition, 1,012 contributors will equally share $2 million; of these, 1,005 are the authors of the paper from the LIGO and Virgo collaborations, while the remaining seven are scientists who "made important contributions to the success of LIGO." This group of seven includes Caltech's Mark Scheel, senior research associate in physics, and Rochus E. Vogt, the R. Stanton Avery Distinguished Service Professor and Professor of Physics, Emeritus.

In announcing the special prize, Yuri Milner, one of the founders of the Breakthrough Prizes, said, "The creative powers of a unique genius, many great scientists, and the universe itself, have come together to make a perfect science story."

For more about Caltech's Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics laureates, read Glitz and Qubits in the current issue of Caltech's E&S magazine.