Some Lesser Known Facts About Rainer Weiss
- Rainer was born into a Jewish family and spent early years of his life in escaping from the Nazi rule.
- Hilter’s fear forced his family to move to Prague in late 1932, and to the United States in 1938.
- He received a scholarship to the Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School.
- After graduating from high school in 1950, he developed an interest in electricity and electronics.
- Later, he chose major in physics as he found it easier.
- In 1953, he started working in the Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE) at MIT.
- During his initial research days, he walked into the atomic beam laboratory of American Physicist Jerrold R. Zacharias, and started doing carpentry over there. After making a dry ice chest, he started working on the electronics of an atomic clock, a new idea using the hyperfine transition in atomic cesium as observed in the pristine conditions of an atomic beam. Rainer and Zacharias together worked on an improved atomic clock that was intended to be precise enough to measure the Einstein gravitational redshift between a clock placed in a valley and another on the top of a neighboring mountain, an altitude difference of approx. 3km.
- In 1964, he started working at MIT as a faculty.
- In the mid-1960s, he formed a new research group in RLE at MIT to research in cosmology and gravitation.
- In 1975, he was appointed the chairperson of a committee for NASA to look at the role the space program in
cosmology and gravitation.
- During the feasibility study with industry to design and construct a long baseline interferometric detector system with sufficient sensitivity, Rainer, and Kip Thorne came up with the idea that Caltech and MIT should do the LIGO project together. In 1983, Kip, Ronald Drever, and Rainer jointly presented the result of the study to an NSF committee reviewing large physics projects.
- In 2006, with John C. Mather, he and the COBE team received the Gruber Prize in Cosmology.
- In 2007, with Ronald Drever, he was awarded the Einstein Prize.
- Rainer Weiss, along with fellow scientists Barry C. Barish and Kip Thorne, was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics for “decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves”. While Weiss takes away one-half of the total prize money (£825,000), Barish and Thorne will share half of the remaining prize.
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