2 Caltech professors awarded Nobel Prize for physics

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California Institute of Technology professors Barry Barish and Kip Thorne received one of the highest honors in science, a Nobel Prize. (KABC)

California Institute of Technology professors Barry Barish and Kip Thorne received one of the highest honors in science, a Nobel Prize.

Along with their colleague Rainer Weiss at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, they were awarded the prize in physics for their part in the development of two precise measuring devices known as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO.

LIGO made the first-ever direct observation of gravitation waves, or ripples in the fabric of time, which were predicted by Albert Einstein 100 years ago. The waves are created by the merging of two black holes.

"This is opening up a whole new way to observe the universe and to observe aspects of the universe that we could never ever see before," Thorne said. "We never could see colliding black holes before."

The winners said the award should really be going to the entire team.

"I feel like an icon for this team of a thousand people and it means a lot to me to serve as that icon," Thorne said.

Barish said there's a little embarrassment when he was picked out of a large deserving group.

The two scientists will share half of the $1 million award. Barish said he does not know what he will do with the money, while Thorne said he has something in mind.

The university now holds a total of 37 alumni or faculty members who were honored with the distinction.

Caltech President Thomas Rosenbaum said the number represents an extraordinary achievement for the institution, which was only made possible by their culture of ambition and intellectual fearlessness.

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