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Rainer "Rai" Weiss (/vaɪs/; German: [vaɪs]; born September 29, 1932) is an American physicist, known for his contributions in gravitational physics and astrophysics. He is a professor of physics emeritus at MIT. He is best known for inventing the laser interferometric technique which is the basic operation of LIGO. Rainer Weiss was Chair of the COBE Science Working Group.[1][2][3] Winner of Nobel Prize in Physics in 2017.

Early life and education

Rainer Weiss was born on 29 September 1932 in Berlin, Germany.[4] Fleeing Nazi rule, his family moved first to Prague, in late 1932, and then to the United States, in 1938;[5] his youth was spent in New York City, where he attended Columbia Grammar School. He studied at MIT, and after dropping out in his junior year[6] returned to receive his B.S. in 1955 and Ph.D. in 1962 from Jerrold Zacharias. He taught at Tufts University in 1960–62, was a postdoctoral scholar at Princeton University from 1962–64, and then joined the faculty at MIT in 1964.[4]

Weiss brought two fields of fundamental physics research from birth to maturity: characterization of the cosmic background radiation,[3] and interferometric gravitational wave observation.

He made pioneering measurements of the spectrum of the cosmic microwave background radiation, and then was co-founder and science advisor of the NASA COBE (microwave background) satellite.[1]

Weiss also invented the interferometric gravitational wave detector, and co-founded the NSF LIGO (gravitational-wave detection) project.

Both of these efforts couple challenges in instrument science with physics important to the understanding of the Universe.[7]

In February 2016, he was one of the four scientists presenting at the press conference for the announcement that the first direct gravitational wave observation had been made in September 2015. He won the 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics. [8][9][10][11][a]
Honors and awards

Rainer Weiss has been recognized by numerous awards including:

In 2006, with John C. Mather, he and the COBE team received the Gruber Prize in Cosmology.[2]
In 2007, with Ronald Drever, he was awarded the Einstein Prize for this work.[12]
For the achievement of gravitational waves detection, in 2016 he received:[13]

The Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics,
Gruber Prize in Cosmology,
Shaw Prize,
Kavli Prize in Astrophysics[14]
The Harvey Prize together with Kip Thorne and Ronald Drever.[15]
The Smithsonian magazine's American Ingenuity Award in the Physical Science category, with Kip Thorne and Barry Barish.[16]
The Willis E. Lamb Award for Laser Science and Quantum Optics, 2017.[17]
Princess of Asturias Award (2017) (jointly with Kip Thorne and Barry Barish).[18]
Nobel Prize in Physics 2017

Selected publications

This section is too long. Consider splitting it into new pages, adding subheadings, or condensing it. (October 2017)

R. Weiss, H.H. Stroke, V. Jaccarino and D.S. Edmonds (1957). "Magnetic Moments and Hyperfine Structure Anomalies of Cs133, Cs135 and Cs137". Phys. Rev. 105 (2): 590. Bibcode:1957PhRv..105..590S. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.105.590.
R. Weiss (1961). "Molecular Beam Electron Bombardment Detector". Rev. Sci. Instr. 32 (4): 397. Bibcode:1961RScI...32..397W. doi:10.1063/1.1717386.
R. Weiss & L. Grodzins (1962). "A Search for a Frequency Shift of 14.4 keV Photons on Traversing Radiation Fields". Physics Letters. 1 (8): 342. Bibcode:1962PhL.....1..342W. doi:10.1016/0031-9163(62)90420-1.
Weiss, Rainer (1963). "Stark Effect and Hyperfine Structure of Hydrogen Fluoride". Phys. Rev. 131 (2): 659. Bibcode:1963PhRv..131..659W. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.131.659.
R. Weiss & B. Block (1965). "A Gravimeter to Monitor the OSO Dilational Model of the Earth". J. Geophy. Res. 70 (22): 5615. Bibcode:1965JGR....70.5615W. doi:10.1029/JZ070i022p05615.
R. Weiss & G. Blum (1967). "Experimental Test of the Freundlich Red-Shift Hypothesis". Phys. Rev. 155 (5): 1412. Bibcode:1967PhRv..155.1412B. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.155.1412.
R. Weiss (1967). "Electric and Magnetic Field Probes". Amer. J. Phys. 35 (11): 1047. Bibcode:1967AmJPh..35.1047W. doi:10.1119/1.1973723.
R.Weiss and S. Ezekiel (1968). "Laser-Induced Fluorescence in a Molecular Beam of Iodine". Phys. Rev. Lett. 20 (3): 91. Bibcode:1968PhRvL..20...91E. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.20.91.
R. Weiss & D. Muehlner (1970). "A Measurement of the Isotropic Background Radiation in the Far Infrared". Phys. Rev. Lett. 24 (13): 742. Bibcode:1970PhRvL..24..742M. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.24.742.
R. Weiss (1972). "Electromagnetically Coupled Broadband Gravitational Antenna" (PDF). Quarterly Progress Report, Research Laboratory of Electronics, MIT. 105: 54.
R. Weiss & D. Muehlner (1973). "Balloon Measurements of the Far Infrared Background Radiation". Phys. Rev. D. 7 (2): 326. Bibcode:1973PhRvD...7..326M. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.7.326.
R. Weiss & D. Muehlner (1973). "Further Measurements of the Submillimeter Background at Balloon Altitude". Phys. Rev. Lett. 30 (16): 757. Bibcode:1973PhRvL..30..757M. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.30.757.
R. Weiss & D.K. Owens (1974). "Measurements of the Phase Fluctuations on a He-Ne Zeeman Laser". Rev. Sci. Inst. 45 (9): 1060. doi:10.1063/1.1686809.
R. Weiss, D.K. Owens & D. Muehlner (1979). "A Large Beam Sky Survey at Millimeter and Submillimeter Wavelengths Made from Balloon Altitudes". Astrophysical Journal. 231: 702. Bibcode:1979ApJ...231..702O. doi:10.1086/157235.
R. Weiss, P.M. Downey, F.J. Bachner, J.P. Donnelly, W.T. Lindley, R.W. Mountain and D.J. Silversmith (1980). "Monolithic Silicon Bolometers". Journal of Infrared and Millimeter Waves. 1.
R. Weiss (1980). "Measurements of the Cosmic Background Radiation". Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics. 18: 489. Bibcode:1980ARA&A..18..489W. doi:10.1146/annurev.aa.18.090180.002421.
R. Weiss (1980). "The COBE Project". Physica Scripta. 21 (5): 670. Bibcode:1980PhyS...21..670W. doi:10.1088/0031-8949/21/5/016.
R. Weiss, S.S. Meyer & A.D. Jeffries (1983). "A Search for the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich Effect at Millimeter Wavelengths". Astrophys. J. Lett. 271: L1. Bibcode:1983ApJ...271L...1M. doi:10.1086/184080.
R. Weiss, M. Halpern, R. Benford, S. Meyer and D. Muehlner (1988). "Measurements of the Anisotropy of the Cosmic Background Radiation and Diffuse Galactic Emission at Millimeter and Submillimeter Wavelengths". Astrophys. J. 332: 596. Bibcode:1988ApJ...332..596H. doi:10.1086/166679.
R. Weiss, J.C. Mather, E.S. Cheng, R.E. Eplee Jr., R.B. Isaacman, S.S. Meyer, R.A. Shafer, E.L. Wright, C.L. Bennett, N.W. Boggess, E. Dwek, S. Gulkis, M.G. Hauser, M. Janssen, T. Kelsall, P.M. Lubin, S.H. Moseley Jr., T.L. Murdock, R.F. Silverberg, G.F. Smoot and D.T. Wilkinson (1990). "A Preliminary Measurement of the Cosmic Microwave Background Spectrum by the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) Satellite". Astrophys. J. 354: L37. Bibcode:1990ApJ...354L..37M. doi:10.1086/185717.
R. Weiss, G. Smoot, C. Bennett, R. Weber, J. Maruschak, R. Ratliff, M. Janssen, J. Chitwood, L. Hilliard, M. Lecha, R. Mills, R. Patschke, C. Richards, C. Backus, J. Mather, M. Hauser, D. Wilkenson, S. Gulkis, N. Boggess, E. Cheng, T. Kelsall, P. Lubin, S. Meyer, H. Moseley, T. Murdock, R. Shafer, R. Silverberg and E. Wright (1990). "COBE Differential Microwave Radiometers: Instrument Design and Implementation". Astrophys. J. 360: 685. Bibcode:1990ApJ...360..685S. doi:10.1086/169154.
R. Weiss (1990). "Interferometric Gravitational Wave Detectors". In N. Ashby; D. Bartlett; W. Wyss. Proceedings of the Twelfth International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation. Cambridge University Press. p. 331.
R. Weiss, D. Shoemaker, P. Fritschel, J. Glaime and N. Christensen (1991). "Prototype Michelson Interferometer with Fabry-Perot Cavities". Applied Optics. 30 (22): 3133–8. Bibcode:1991ApOpt..30.3133S. PMID 20706365. doi:10.1364/AO.30.003133.


Other physicists presenting were Gabriela González, David Reitze, Kip Thorne, and France A. Córdova from the NSF.


Lars Brink (2 June 2014). Nobel Lectures in Physics (2006 – 2010). World Scientific. pp. 25–. ISBN 978-981-4612-70-8.
"NASA and COBE Scientists Win Top Cosmology Prize". NASA. 2006. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
Weiss, Rainer (1980). "Measurements of the Cosmic Background Radiation". Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 18: 489–535. Bibcode:1980ARA&A..18..489W. doi:10.1146/annurev.aa.18.090180.002421.
Weiss CV at mit.edu
Oral Histories
Meet the College Dropout who Invented the Gravitational Wave Detector Adrian Cho Science 4 August 2016
David Shoemaker (2012). "The Evolution of Advanced LIGO" (PDF). LIGO magazine (1).
Twilley, Nicola. "Gravitational Waves Exist: The Inside Story of How Scientists Finally Found Them". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2016-02-11.
Abbott, B.P.; et al. (2016). "Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger". Phys. Rev. Lett. 116: 061102. PMID 26918975. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.061102.
Naeye, Robert (11 February 2016). "Gravitational Wave Detection Heralds New Era of Science". Sky and Telescope. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
Castelvecchi, Davide; Witze, Alexandra (11 February 2016). "Einstein's gravitational waves found at last". Nature News. doi:10.1038/nature.2016.19361. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
"Prize Recipient". aps.org.
Shaw Prize 2016
Kavli Prize 2016
Harvey Prize 2016
"Meet the Team of Scientists Who Discovered Gravitational Waves". Smithsonian Magazine.
"The Willis E. Lamb Award for Laser Science and Quantum Optics". Retrieved 17 March 2017.

Princess of Asturias Award 2017

Further reading

Cho, A. (August 5, 2016). "The storyteller". Science. 353 (6299): 532–537. doi:10.1126/science.353.6299.532.
Mather, John and John Boslough, The Very First Light: The True Inside Story of the Scientific Journey Back to the Dawn of the Universe, ISBN 978-0-465-01576-4
Bartusiak, M., Einstein's Unfinished Symphony: Listening to the Sounds of Space-Time, ISBN 978-0-425-18620-6

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