Three American physicists are this year's Fudan-Zhongzhi Science Award winners for their contributions to the "first detection of gravitational wave in human history," Fudan University announced yesterday.
The trio — Rainer Weiss, Kip Stephen Thorne and Barry Clark Barish —will share a 3 million yuan (5,150) prize.
Predicted in 1916 by Albert Einstein on the basis of his theory of general relativity, gravitational waves are said to be "ripples in the curvature of space time" that propagate as waves at the speed of light.
But detecting them proved a much harder task.
The breakthrough came on September 14, 2015, when the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration team made the first observation of gravitational waves, which originated from a pair of merging black holes.
The announcement of the find was made on February 12, 2016. The detection not only proved Einstein's prediction on existence of gravitational waves, but also enabled scientists to observe black holes directly, opening a new window for human exploration of the universe.
Since then, the team has confirmed two more detections of gravitational wave events.