LOS ANGELES (CNS) - An intersection adjacent to John Marshall High School in Los Feliz will be dedicated today as Dr. Barry Barish Square honoring the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who graduated from the school.
Barish shared the 2017 Nobel Prize in physics with Caltech colleague Kip Thorne and Rainer Weiss of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for their discoveries in gravitational waves.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the three Americans were being recognized ``for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves.''
Barish is set to speak at the 1 p.m. ceremony at John Marshall High School, along with his wife Samoan, a psychoanalyst, Rhea Johnson, a colleague who submitted the nomination in Barish's honor, Marshall Principal Gary Garcia, and Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nithya Raman, who authored the motion to designate the intersection in Barish's honor.
Barish was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on Jan. 27, 1936. Just after World War II, the family moved to Los Feliz. Barish graduated from Micheltorena Elementary School and what is now Thomas Star King Middle School before attending Marshall High.
Barish received a bachelor's degree in physics and a doctorate in experimental particle physics at the University of California before returning to Southern California to join the faculty at Caltech in 1963.
Barish was the principal investigator and director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory which was built to detect gravitational waves -- ripples in space and time that had been predicted by Albert Einstein in his theory of general relativity, though Einstein had speculated that these waves were too weak to be detectable.
Under Barish's leadership, LIGO made the world 's first detections of gravitational waves on Sept. 14 2015, the universe's gravitational waves were observed for the first time and determined to have resulted from a collision between two black holes. It took 1.3 billion years for the waves to arrive at the LIGO detector in the U.S.
The signal was extremely weak when it reached Earth, but scientists said it promises a revolution in astrophysics, gravitational waves being a new way of observing the most violent events in space.
Barish is a professor emeritus at Caltech and distinguished professor of physics and astronomy at UC Riverside. He has returned to Marshall High on multiple occasions to speak with students and inspire them to pursue their academic passions.