Scientists Recognized on Assembly Floor for Discovery

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Quirk (D-Hayward), Assemblymember Holden (D-Pasadena) and Assemblymember Obernolte (R-Hesperia) invited three scientists to the Assembly today to recognize them for their discovery of gravitational waves.

Gravitational waves were first predicted by Albert Einstein 100 years ago. These waves were created from the merging of two black holes that sent a ripple through the fabric of space 1.3 billion years ago.

Honored on the Assembly floor today were the following scientists.

  • Dr. Rana Adhikari, Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech);
  • Dr. David Reitze, Executive Director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO); and
  • Dr. Kip Thorne, co-founder of LIGO and professor emeritus at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech).

The research that led to the gravitational wave discovery was carried out by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration, which represents more than 1,000 scientists from universities around the United Stated States and in 14 other countries.

“This is a discovery more than 100 years in the making,” Assemblymember Quirk stated. “This discovery was possible thanks to the contribution of hundreds of people. However, the three scientists honored on the floor today played the most pivotal role.” This discovery has opened the door to a new field of gravitational wave astronomy and the potential to detect more events. “It is a true pleasure to have been able to witness this great discovery.”

“I’m proud to honor Caltech scientists Dr. Adhikari, Dr. Reitze and Dr. Thorne for solving a 100 year old mystery from Albert Einstein’s “Theory of Relativity,” said Assemblymember Holden who represents Caltech. “I am always fascinated and inspired by Cal Tech’s determination to push the limits of human discovery. I thank Assemblymembers Quirk and Obernolte for their mutual appreciation for these efforts.”

“As a graduate of Caltech, I know firsthand how fortunate we are to have this outstanding educational institution in California. Caltech gave me the tools to be successful, both in business and politics,” Assemblyman Obernolte stated. “Today it was an honor to recognize the scientists who played a critical role in the discovery of gravitational waves, and I’m thrilled that Caltech was at the forefront of this incredible discovery.”

Assemblymember Quirk shared a conversation he had with Dr. Thorne while he was doing his pot- doctorate at Cal-Tech, “I remember Kip Thorne saying that if the detection were verified as real, then the experimenter should win the Nobel Prize in Physics. Well, on September 14, 2015 a gravitational wave was detected for the first time. Just saying.”

 

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Elected in 2012, Bill Quirk brings his PhD in astrophysics and career as an educator and scientist to the State Assembly. He is the Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on California’s Clean Energy Economy, and a member of the Assembly Committees on Agriculture, Appropriations, Public Safety, Revenue & Taxation, Rules, and Utilities & Commerce.