Category: Nobel Prize

Ask Ethan: Are We Deceiving Ourselves By Searc…

Ask Ethan: Are We Deceiving Ourselves By Searching For B-Modes From Inflation?

“I have a question about B-Modes. I’ve read Dr. Keating’s book, Losing the Nobel Prize. In the book, he details his team’s search for B-modes, and claims this would be smoking gun for inflation. Dr. Hossenfelder, in a blog post, says this isn’t true and there are other ways to produce B-modes. What is the correct view?”

Perhaps the greatest danger in science is to go out, look for a predicted effect, find it, and declare victory. Why is that such a danger? Because your idea for how the effect was generated might not be the only possibility, or even the most accurate one. If I have a wild new theory that predicts some far-distant star will have a habitable planet around it, the detection of that planet does not necessarily mean the wild new theory is correct. When it comes to the origin of the Universe, our leading theory is cosmic inflation, which predicts a B-mode polarization signature in the cosmic microwave background. Are there other ways to generate those B-mode signatures, though? And if we find them, does that mean that inflation is correct, or might that be a premature conclusion?

This is a key problem, and a hard problem, in theoretical physics. But we can say a whole lot that’s intelligent on this topic, and still be correct. Let’s find out.

These 5 Women Deserved, And Were Unjustly Deni…

These 5 Women Deserved, And Were Unjustly Denied, A Nobel Prize In Physics

“The fact of the matter is that there is no concrete evidence that women are in any way inherently inferior to men when it comes to work in any of the sciences or any of their sub-fields. But there is overwhelming evidence for misogyny, sexism, and institutional bias that hinders their careers and fails to recognize them for their outstanding achievements. When you think of the Nobel Laureates in Physics and wonder why there are so few women, make sure you remember Cecilia Payne, Chien-Shiung Wu, Vera Rubin, Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, and Lise Meitner. The Nobel committee may have forgotten or overlooked their contributions until it was too late, but that doesn’t mean we have to. In all the sciences, we want the best, brightest, most capable, and hardest workers this world has to offer. Looking back on history with accurate eyes only serves to demonstrate how valuable, and yet undervalued, women in science have been.”

In most intellectual lines of work, if you claimed that a certain type of person wasn’t mentally capable of doing as good a job as another, you’d be rightfully called a bigot. Yet somehow, in a myriad of the sciences (such as physics), there are those who simultaneously claim that “women are inferior to men” alongside the claim that it isn’t sexist or bigoted to say so.

But what there is a long history of, in physics, is women being denied their due credit for discoveries and advances that they were an integral part of. Even in the aftermath of last week’s events, when physicist Donna Strickland became just the third woman ever to be awarded a Nobel Prize, many have claimed that she isn’t worthy, for reasons that have never been applied to men.

Well, meet five women you might not be aware of who certainly earned a Nobel Prize, even if they were never awarded one. We cannot rewrite history, but we can right the legacy of its wrongs in our public consciousness.

This Is Why The 2018 Nobel Prize In Physics, F…

This Is Why The 2018 Nobel Prize In Physics, For Lasers, Is So Important

“It has often been noted, such as by the AAUW, that one of the barriers to accepting women in STEM as normal is a lack of representation at the highest levels. In selecting Donna Strickland as a Nobel Laureate, in the same year that Jocelyn Bell-Burnell was awarded the $3M Breakthrough Prize, we’re stepping closer to a world where women can expect to receive equal treatment and equal respect to men in the scientific workplace.

Whether your research will win you the Nobel Prize — or even will be successful — is often largely a matter of luck. But rewarding those who do good work, get lucky in how nature responds, and leads to the development of technological applications that serve humanity is what the Nobel is all about. This year, there can be no doubt the selection committee got it right. Let’s all celebrate Ashkin, Mourou, and Strickland as your 2018 Nobel Laureates in Physics!”

The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics goes to Arthur Ashkin, Gerard Mourou, and Donna Strickland, for advances in the field of laser physics. Ashkin wins half the prize for his work developing the optical tweezers technique, while Mourou and Strickland share the other half for the development of chirped pulse amplification, which creates high-power, short-period pulses of lasers. Both of these inventions have proven their worth scientifically and practically, leading to a wide variety of applications. But there’s so much more to the story than that, and the fact that this is just the third physics Nobel ever to include a woman cannot be overlooked.

Come learn all about the science and societal impacts underlying the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics!

‘Losing The Nobel Prize’ Makes A G…

‘Losing The Nobel Prize’ Makes A Good Point, But Misses A Great One (Book Review)

“This is science. Our goal is to fully understand the Universe, one incremental step at a time. Our human failings are many, and we must not let them get the best of us. In Losing the Nobel Prize, Brian Keating exposes not only the failings of the Nobel Prize system, but also his own personal frailties. What emerges is a flawed but sympathetic read, where you’ll find yourself rooting not only for quality science to win out in the end, but for every contributor to work together in an open fashion for the benefit of human knowledge in general. We may be a long way from achieving that goal, but it’s arguable that by losing the Nobel Prize, Keating and BICEP2 has led us to an even greater victory: the recognition that there are more important things in this Universe, like scientific truths, than the fleeting glory of an earthly award.”

Imagine that you stake your life’s work on a high-risk, high-reward proposition. You think you’ve got a great new way to push the limits on our understanding of the Universe to never-before-probed frontiers. If you succeed, which is to say, if you’re first to probe that, and you find something new and novel, you’ve just made a tremendous scientific breakthrough. If you play the publicity game right, your research, its implications, and quite possibly, you, might be deemed Nobel-worthy. Only three people, maximum, can ever wind the Nobel Prize for a particular discovery, despite the fact that dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people are required to bring such an experiment to fruition. Now imagine you did that, got the spectacular result, and then had your finding overturned, as the field found your work to be sloppy, premature, and incomplete.

This is the story that Brian Keating tells in his new book, ‘Losing the Nobel Prize.’ Here is my review.

Ask Ethan: What Were The Greatest Nobel Prize …

Ask Ethan: What Were The Greatest Nobel Prize Snubs In Science History?

“In this season of award shows where there is talk over who deserved to be nominated and who was snubbed, I wanted to know your pick for scientists who deserved a Nobel or a share of a Nobel but was snubbed by the committee. For my pick I’d nominate Chien Shiung Wu.”

In the world of science, there is no more prestigious award than the Nobel Prize, which has been awarded nearly every year (a couple of years during World War II excepted) since the dawn of the 20th century. Yet many deserving awardees were denied the honor of receiving it, often for extremely petty or ill-justified reasons. My top 10 prize snubs include:

1.) Cecilia Payne
2.) Dmitri Mendeleev
3.) Chien Shiung Wu
4.) Joseph Swan and Thomas Edison
5.) Vera Rubin and Ken Ford
6.) Fred Hoyle
7.) Jocelyn Bell-Burnell
8.) Lise Meitner
9.) Satyendra Bose
10.) Jonas Salk

How do you feel about this list? And who did I miss who you would include? Compare your feelings to what I’ve come up with on this edition of Ask Ethan!

fuckyeahphysica: fuckyeahphysica: Black Holes are not so…



Black Holes are not so Black (Part 3) – Gravitational Waves

The existence of Gravitational Waves have been confirmed. But you probably have heard that. In this post, we will break down this profound discovery into comprehend-able chunks.

This is going to be a amazing journey. Ready ?

Redefining Gravity

When we usually talk of Gravitation we are bound to think like Newton,
where objects are assumed to exerting a force upon each other.

imaginary arrows of force in space. But this picture, although good for
high school crumbled, with the advent of Einstein’s theory of


What is the Space-Time Fabric?

Think of space-time fabric as
an actual cloth of fabric. ( An analogy )


When you place an object on the fabric, the
cloth curves. This is exactly what happens in the solar system as well.


sun with such a huge mass bends the space-time fabric. And the earth
and all the planets are kept in orbit by following this curvature that
has been made by the sun.

Attributing to the various masses of objects, the way they bend this fabric also varies.


What are Gravitational Waves?

If you drop an object in a medium such as water, they produce ripples that propagate as waves through the medium.


Similarly, Gravitational waves are ripples in space-time fabric produced when you drag heavy objects through space time.

And the nature of these waves is that they don’t require a medium to propagate.

How do you make one?

Everything with mass/energy can create these waves.



Two persons dancing around each other in space too can create gravitational waves. But the waves would be extremely faint.

You need something big and massive accelerating through space-time in order to even detect them.


And orbiting binary stars/black holes are valuable in this retrospect.

How can you detect them?

Let’s turn to the problem to detecting them assuming you do find binary stars/black-holes in the wondrous space to suite your needs.

Well, for starters you cannot use rocks/ rulers to measure them because as the space expands and contracts, so do the rocks. ( the distances will remain same in both the cases )


Here’s where the high school fact that the speed of Light is a constant no matter what plays an important and pivotal role.

If the space expands, the time taken for light to reach from A to B would be longer. And if it contracts, the time taken for it to reach from A to B would be smaller.


PC: PHDComics

By allowing the light waves from the contraction and expansion to interfere with each other, such as done in any interferometry experiment we can detect the expansion or contraction. Voila!


And this is exactly what they did! ( on a macroscopic level ) at LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory)

14 September 2015


Two Black Holes with masses of 29 and 36 solar masses merged together some 1.3 Billion light years away.

Two Black Holes colliding is the header animation of the ‘Black Holes are not so Black Series’, in case if you haven’t noticed.


The merger of these two black holes results in the emission of energy equivalent to 3 solar masses as Gravitational Waves.

This signal was seen by both LIGO detectors, in Livingston and Hanford,
with a time difference of 7 milliseconds.

And with the measurement of this time difference, physicists have pronounced the existence of Gravitational Waves.



All this is most certainly easily said than done and requires meticulous and extensive research, not to mention highly sensitive instruments.

Had they not have measured this time difference,
we might have had to wait for the merger for more massive black holes
to collide and maybe even build more sensitive instruments to detect these waves.

And Einstein predicted this a 100 years back!


Mind Blown!

Note: Hope you are able to understand and appreciate the profundity of the discovery done by mankind.

** All animations used here are merely for Educational purposes. If you have any issues, please write to us at :

Why is this discovery a Big Deal ?

Gravitational waves gives
us another way to observe celestial phenomenon. These waves also form
when supernovae explode, when black holes collide and during many other
space activities.


Detecting them might give us a new
perspective into the cosmic events. There is hell of a lot of space that
is left unexplored or lies beyond human exuberance and this discovery
might shed some light on it. ( like the big bang per se )

The ultimate goal is to
understand the fundamental laws of the universe. It is a quest through
the oblivion towards a theory of everything.


Although it is
unknown how many years/decades it might take to get us there, but these discoveries
are markers to getting there.

What is this Image that i see everywhere?


This is not the photograph of the actual event but a simulation run by NASA of two black holes merging.

A2A: Anonymous

How does the actual experimental setup look like ?

The actual experimental setup is a bit complex in its entirety. But the guardian has an elegant image that seems to cover its essence:


A2A: Anonymous

Have a great day!

Nobel Prize in Physics 2017

The Nobel Prize
in Physics 2017 was divided, one half awarded to Rainer Weiss, the other
half jointly to Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves”.

The Nobel Doesn’t Mean Gravitational Wave Astronomy Is…

The Nobel Doesn’t Mean Gravitational Wave Astronomy Is Over; It’s Just Getting Good

“We haven’t just detected gravitational waves directly, we’ve begun exploring in the era of gravitational wave astronomy. We aren’t just seeing the sky in a whole new way; we’re getting better and better at seeing it, and learning what we’re looking at. Because these events are transient, existing only for a short amount of time, we right now only get one opportunity to view these black hole-black hole mergers. But as time goes on and our detectors continue to improve, we’re going to continue to see the Universe as we never have before. The Nobel Prize may have been for already completed research, but the true fruits of gravitational wave astronomy are still out there amidst the great cosmic forest. Thanks to the groundwork laid by 100+ years of scientists, for the first time, it’s picking season.”

Yes, we detected gravitational waves, directly, for the first time! Just days after Advanced LIGO first turned on, a signal of a 36 solar mass black hole merging with a 29 solar mass black hole gave us our first robust, direct detection of these long-sought waves, changing astronomy forever. Einstein’s General Relativity was validated in a whole new way, and over 40 years of work on developing and building LIGO was vindicated at last. Now, it’s two years later, and yes, some of the most important team members have been awarded physics’ highest honor: the Nobel Prize. But gravitational wave astronomy isn’t over now; on the contrary, it’s only just beginning in earnest. With a third detector now online and two more coming along in the next few years, we’re not only poised to enter a new era in astronomy, we’re about to open up a whole new set of discoveries that would otherwise be impossible.

Here’s where we are, and here’s how we do it! Find out what advances are already underway since this Nobel-winning discovery was made!

Gravitational Waves Win 2017 Nobel Prize In Physics, The…

Gravitational Waves Win 2017 Nobel Prize In Physics, The Ultimate Fusion Of Theory And Experiment

“The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics may have gone to three individuals who made an outstanding contribution to the scientific enterprise, but it’s a story about so much more than that. It’s about all the men and women over more than 100 years who’ve contributed, theoretically and experimentally and observationally, to our understanding of the precise workings of the Universe. Science is much more than a method; it’s the accumulated knowledge of the entire human enterprise, gathered and synthesized together for the betterment of everyone. While the most prestigious award has now gone to gravitational waves, the science of this phenomenon is only in its earliest stages. The best is yet to come.”

It’s official at long last: the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to three individuals most responsible for the development and eventual direct detection of gravitational waves. Congratulations to Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne, and Barry Barish, whose respective contributions to the experimental setup of gravitational wave detectors, theoretical predictions about which astrophysical events produce which signals, and the design-and-building of the modern LIGO interferometers helped make it all possible. The story of directly detecting gravitational waves is so much more, however, than the story of just these three individuals, or even than the story of their collaborators. Instead, it’s the ultimate culmination of a century of theoretical, experimental, and instrumentational work, dating back to Einstein himself. It’s a story that includes physics titans Howard Robertson, Richard Feynman, and Joseph Weber. It includes Russell Hulse and Joseph Taylor, who won a Nobel decades earlier for the indirect detection of gravitational waves. And it’s the story of over 1,000 men and women who contributed to LIGO and VIRGO, bringing us into the era of gravitational wave astronomy.

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics may only go to three individuals, but it’s the ultimate fusion of theory and experiment. And yes, the best is yet to come!