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XSEDE Applauds Nobel Prize Winners for Discovery of Gravitational Waves

XSEDE applauds Nobel Prize winners for discovery of gravitational waves

Three leading LIGO physicists will share this year's award.

Urbana, IL---The Extreme Science and Engineering Development Environment (XSEDE) congratulates the three scientists who were honored for "decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves" with the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics. Rainer Weiss, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, received one-half of the award and Barry Barish and Kip Thorne, both at the California Institute of Technology, share half.

"XSEDE is very pleased to see this honor bestowed on the pioneers that led the formation and execution of the LIGO experiment," said John Towns, XSEDE Principal Investigator. "It is an exceedingly rare event for a new window of observation to be opened on the universe."

LIGO is a collaborative project with over one thousand researchers from more than 20 countries. Weiss and Thorne originally proposed LIGO as a means of detecting gravitational waves in the 1980s. Barish is recognized for bringing the project to completion.

On Sept. 14, 2015, at 5:51 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (9:51 UTC) scientists observed for the first-time ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirmed a major prediction of Albert Einstein's 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.

The gravitational waves were detected by both of the twin LIGO detectors, located in Livingston, La., and Hanford, Wash. The LIGO Observatories are funded by the National Science Foundation, and were conceived, built, and are operated by Caltech and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The discovery, published in the journal Physical Review Letters, was made by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo Collaboration.

XSEDE, a network of the National Science Foundation's cyberinfrastructure investments, includes not only high-performance computing systems, but experts who collaborate with researchers to move projects forward. LIGO first obtained access to XSEDE resources in 2013 and is now using the Open Science Grid as its standard interface for XSEDE and other shared computing systems.

Since then, LIGO has been allocated millions of hours on XSEDE's high-performance computers including Stampede from the Texas Advanced Computing Center at The University of Texas at Austin and Comet from the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California San Diego.

This collaboration also provided LIGO with access to XSEDE's Extended Collaborative Support Services (ECSS). During the first year of the collaboration, ECSS worked with LIGO to increase the speed of the applications—making them 8­-10 times faster on average.

Towns continued, "The collaborative efforts XSEDE has engaged in with the LIGO project have been quite fruitful and we look forward to ongoing observations of events and greater understanding of our universe."

XSEDE Congratulates Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish, and Kip Thorne on their Nobel Prize!