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Gravitational waves scientist dies aged 85

Posted March. 10, 2017 07:14,   

Updated March. 10, 2017 07:20

Ronald Drever, a Scottish physicist and professor emeritus at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) who was mentioned as a strong candidate for the Nobel Prize in Physics, has died at 85. According to the BBC and other media outlets, he suffered dementia and recently had a deterioration of his health. He died in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Tuesday.

Drever founded the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in the U.S. in 1992 with Kip Thorne, a theorist at Caltech, and Rainer Weiss, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. LIGO consisting of two observatories – one in Hanford, Washington, and the other in Livingston, Louisiana – detected gravitational waves which were predicted by Albert Einstein about a hundred years ago. He received a Ph.D. from Glasgow University and had studied gravitational waves since 1970s and served as a professor at Caltech since 1977.

With Professor Thorne and Professor Weiss, he swept global academic awards including the Gruber Cosmology Prize and the Breakthrough Prize. However, his illness prevented him from attending the award ceremonies. “He was the most creative physicist who I have ever known. His big picture allowed us to get a key idea of LIGO,” Professor Thorne said.