Physicist Who Fled Nazi Rule Wins Nobel Prize

Rainer Weiss among Nobel Prize winners for contributions that proved Einstein right

FILE PHOTO: MIT Professor Emeritus of Physics Rainer Weiss in Berkeley, California, U.S. October 3, 2016
Noah Berger/REUTERS

Scientists Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne won the 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics for decisive contributions in the observation of gravitational waves, the award-giving body said on Tuesday. 

"This is something completely new and different, opening up unseen worlds," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement on awarding the 9 million Swedish crown ($1.1 million) prize. 

"A wealth of discoveries awaits those who succeed in capturing the waves and interpreting their message." 

Rainer Weiss, a professor emeritus at MIT, was born in Germany in 1932. Weiss' family immigrated to the United States in January of 1939, escaping the Nazi regime.

"It's really wonderful," said Weiss. He said the award was the result of the collaboration of 1,000 people involved in the LIGO project, which observed gravitational waves and confirmed a century-old theory by Albert Einstein.

"I am fine, I even have clothing on," Weiss said, speaking over the phone Tuesday to reporters at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, minutes after learning of his Nobel win.

Physics is the second of this year's crop of Nobel Prizes and comes after Americans Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine on Monday.