Three scientists with ties to LIGO observatory awarded Nobel Pri - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Three scientists with ties to LIGO observatory awarded Nobel Prize

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RICHLAND, WA - The Nobel Prize in physics was just awarded to a group with ties to Tri-Cities.

Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish, and Kip Thorne were key pieces to the team that first detected the waves two years ago; ripple effects from black holes colliding more than a billion years ago.

The observatory's presence near the Hanford site is visually astonishing, and aside from its role in detecting gravitational waves, the facility played a huge role in earning three men the Nobel Prize for physics.

"You can't see these events through any other instrument in the world," said Michael Landry, Ph.D with the LIGO Observatory. "You have to make gravitational wave detectors in order to probe this aspect of the universe. There's no other way."

LIGO has two observatories: one obviously right here in the Tri-Cities, and the other in Livingston, Louisiana.

And while these three scientists aren't locals, one of them still comes to Tri-Cities to work at the observatory.

"Ray still comes to the observatories and still does hands-on work," Landry said. "It's really quite extraordinary to see his energy level and his commitment to science. It's inspiring."

And it's inspiring to know a facility in our area played a part in this discovery, and played a part in these scientists achieving this honor.

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