The LIGO team’s detection of gravitational waves, announced in February, has already started attracting top honours. This time, it has won the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.
The $3 million award, instituted by Yuri Milner, will be shared between two groups of laureates: the three founders of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), who will each equally share $1 million (Rs. 6.65 crore); and 1012 contributors to the experiment, who will each equally share $2 million (Rs. 13.31 crore).
The founders are Ronald W.P. Drever; Kip Thorne and Rainer Weiss. The 1012 contributors include 1,005 authors of the paper and seven others.
K.G. Arun of Chennai Mathematical Institute, who is among the 1012 contributors, said, “It is a very important prize and the credit goes to the whole collaboration. It is a coming together of a range of people: experimentalists, data analysts and theoreticians.” The contributors include 37 Indians.
Dr. Arun joined the LIGO scientific collaboration through the INDIGO consortium in 2012. The calculations done by his team occupies three paragraphs in the 11-page paper. “I was part of the team that verified that the observed signal is consistent with predictions of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. The results are also published in a companion paper,” said Dr. Arun.