(Mirror Daily, United States) – A few top physicists from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley made the first detection of gravitational waves. The team will receive a Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics of $3 million.
Responsible for the key of this discovery are two UTRGV physics professors, Malik Rakhmanov, and Soumya D. Mohanty, who developed an algorithm in collaboration with the University of Florida. This historic discovery was made in September at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory in Livingston, Louisiana.
Other members of the UTRGV physics department will be rewarded, thanks to their contribution to the scientific paper. Among them are: Professors Mario Diaz, Volker Quetschke, Joe Romano, Teviet Creighton and Soma Mukherjee; Research Assistant Professor Joey Key; graduate students Sean Morris and Pablo Daveloza; and UTRGV-UT San Antonio cooperative doctoral students Robert Stone, Guillermo Valdes, Darkhan Tuyenbayey and Marc Normandin.
Furthermore, Assistant Research Professor Cristina Torres will also be rewarded postmortem as co-author. Einstein’s gravitational wave theory has been confirmed by the detection of gravitational waves, being the last prediction of his century-old general theory.
This breakthrough grants the scientists a new possibility of looking at the universe, one that did not exist until now. The reward will be split in three, the first one going to the three founders of LIGO: Rainer Weiss, MIT emeritus professor of physics, Kip Thorne, the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, emeritus, at Caltech and Ronald Drever, emeritus professor of physics at Caltech.
The other two-thirds of the prize will be shared equally by the 1,012 contributors to the research, including the UTRGV team.
This award was the idea of a Silicon Valley entrepreneurs’ group which decided to encourage and support the scientific progress of the hardworking team. According to them, this development will become the inspiration of every future scientist. The Breakthrough and Special Breakthrough Prizes are not limited to physicists only, as they are divided into three categories: life sciences, mathematics, and fundamental physics.
According to Mukherjee, a professor at the physics department and interim chair of UTRGV, this prize has never been distributed to every contributor until now. She expressed her gratitude for working alongside such extraordinary colleagues. It has been a 20-year work, full of struggle and dedication. She underlined that such a breakthrough could never be the work of a single person, but the combined effort of many physicists.
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