Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2019 New Horizons in Physics Prize
For research on present and future ground-based detectors of gravitational waves.
Working on gravitational wave instruments is pretty much the only thing I have done in my professional life. During the many years without gravitational wave detections, I kept repeating to myself that even if these instruments never observed anything, it would still be OK to spend my life working in this field. I still would have had the privilege of working on incredibly sophisticated and challenging instruments, attempting to make an astonishingly accurate measurement, and the noble goal of unveiling some of the remaining mysteries of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. Moreover, I was doing that with a large and diverse group of highly talented and motivated people from all over the world, all of them similarly a bit crazy in their tireless efforts to make the detectors better. That spirit made me feel part of something bigger, and kept me going. I am humbled by this prize, which I interpret as a recognition for all of my many colleagues across the globe who have changed the way we look at the universe, one screw, one control loop, one piece of electronics at a time.