WSU researchers share in ‘Breakthrough Prize’

WSU researchers share in ‘Breakthrough Prize’

PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University researchers and adjunct faculty are among the scientists and engineers chosen to receive the coveted “Breakthrough Prize” for their role in the detection of gravitational waves 100 years after Albert Einstein predicted them.

The selection committee of the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics on Monday announced a Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics to recognize those who helped detect the waves, which are often referred to as “ripples in space-time.” Announced in February, the discovery confirmed Einstein’s general theory of relativity and heralded a new way of looking at the universe.

WSU scientists who contributed to the discovery are physics professor Sukanta Bose, postdoctoral researcher Nairwita Mazumder and graduate students Bernard Hall and Ryan Magee. Also contributing were Fred Raab and Greg Mendell, astrophysicists and adjunct faculty working at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory detector, or LIGO, at Hanford.

The researchers laid the foundation for combining data from multiple detectors to increase the chance of discovering a gravitational wave signal. They also worked on the method for searching gravitational-wave signals from black hole mergers, aided by prior research by WSU theoretical physicist Matt Duez.

The breakthrough prize is worth $3 million, significantly more than the $1 million attached to a Nobel Prize. Of that, $1 million will be shared among the three founders of the LIGO detector. The WSU researchers will be among 1,012 contributors to the discovery who will share $2 million.