Monday, 16 October 2017

Kaboom! Two kinds of astronomy collide, and produce a burst of science

Holy crap! The LIGO and Virgo collaborations just announced their most incredible observation so far. After the first direct detections of gravitational waves from black holes colliding, that’s really saying something! And not just that — a string of other astronomical collaborations are part of it, making it even more incredible. If you have just heard the news, you may be in a whirl trying to make sense of it all. Even if you have spent the last two months scooping up all those scurrilous rumours, this may still be just too much. Hell, I have known about it since the observations came in on August 17th, and I am having trouble getting my head around it.

Ok. I need to calm down. Let’s take a step back, to the afternoon of August 17th (UK time).

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Woohoo! I just won the Nobel Prize!

Today I won the Nobel Prize in Physics. Yeah, I am pretty excited about it. To be honest, though, I was not surprised.

The prize was awarded for LIGO's first direct detection of gravitational waves, which we all know was the biggest scientific discovery of the century. That is not me showing off. That is what other people have said. It is such an undisputedly incredible achievement that all of us LIGO scientists can afford to be perfectly humble about it. We knew the Nobel was coming. We can take it in our stride. Hell, after all of those telecons of the Nobel Prize Acceptance Working Group, we were starting to get a bit sick of the whole thing.

Just a second. What is that you say? The prize is not for me? Nonsense. Take a look at the citation.