Barry C. Barish
The Nobel Prize in Physics 2017
Born: 27 January 1936, Omaha, NE, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: LIGO/VIRGO Collaboration, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Pasadena, CA, USA
Prize motivation: "for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves."
Prize share: 1/4
Barry Barish was born in Omaha, Nebraska. His parents came from Jewish families in Poland. The family then moved to Los Angeles. Barish studied at the University of California, Berkeley, where he received his doctor’s degree in 1962. The following year he moved to the California Institute of Technology, where he has worked since then. Barry Barish is married and has a daughter and a son.
One consequence of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity is the existence of gravitational waves. These are like ripples in a four-dimensional spacetime that occur when objects with mass accelerate. The effects are very small. Beginning in the 1970s the LIGO detector was developed to record gravitational waves. Barry Barish had a leading role in the project from 1994 and made crucial contributions to the development of the detector. In 2015 gravitational waves were detected for the first time.