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Ronald Drever

ronald drever, ronald drever ligo
Ronald William Prest Drever 26 October 1931 – 7 March 2017 was a Scottish experimental physicist He was a professor emeritus at the California Institute of Technology, co-founded the LIGO project, and was a co-inventor of the Pound–Drever–Hall technique for laser stabilisation, as well as the Hughes–Drever experiment This work was instrumental in the first detection of gravitational waves in September 2015[2][3][4][5][6][7]

Drever died on 7 March 2017, aged 85,[8] seven months before his colleagues Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne, and Barry Barish won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on the observation of gravitational waves[9] It is generally believed that he would have won the Nobel Prize in the place of Barry Barish had he not died before the Nobel Committee made their decision


  • 1 Education
  • 2 Career and research
    • 21 Honors and awards
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References


Drever was educated at Glasgow Academy followed by University of Glasgow where he was awarded a bachelor's degree in 1953[10] followed by a PhD in 1959 for research on orbital electron capture using proportional counters[11]

Career and research

After receiving his PhD from the University of Glasgow in 1959, Drever initiated the Glasgow project to detect gravitational waves in the sixties,[12] after which he established the University’s first dedicated gravitational wave research group in 1970[13] The same year Drever was recruited to form a gravitational wave program at Caltech[14] In 1984 Drever left Glasgow to work full-time at Caltech[15]

Drever's contributions to the design and implementation of the LIGO interferometers were critically important to their ability to function in the extreme sensitivity realm required for detection of gravitational waves 10−23 strain

Drever's final work involved the development of magnetically levitated optical tables for seismic isolation of experimental apparatus[16]

Ronald Drever outside his first laboratory at Caltech Photo taken in 1993 Ronald Drever deciding where to build the LIGO Hanford site 1993 Ronald Drever, with the Breakthrough Prize 2017

Honors and awards

Drever was recognized by numerous awards including:

  • Inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences [17] 2002
  • Shared the Einstein Prize 2007 with Rainer Weiss
  • The Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics 2016
  • The Gruber Prize in Cosmology 2016
  • The Shaw Prize 2016 together with Kip Thorne and Rainer Weiss[18]
  • The Kavli Prize in Astrophysics 2016[19]
  • Smithsonian, American Ingenuity Award 2016
  • The Harvey Prize 2016
  • Fellowship of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters[20]

See also

Hughes–Drever experiment


  1. ^ a b "Caltech Mourns the Passing of LIGO Co-founder Ronald W P Drever" Whitney Clavin Caltech 8 March 2017 Retrieved 10 March 2017 
  2. ^ Knapton, Sarah 12 February 2016 "British scientist who played key role in gravitational waves research is suffering from dementia" The Telegraph Telegraph Media Group Limited Retrieved 12 February 2016 
  3. ^ Twilley, Nicola "Gravitational Waves Exist: The Inside Story of How Scientists Finally Found Them" The New Yorker ISSN 0028-792X Retrieved 2016-02-11 
  4. ^ Abbott, BP; et al 2016 "Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger" Phys Rev Lett 116: 061102 arXiv:160203837  Bibcode:2016PhRvL116f1102A doi:101103/PhysRevLett116061102 PMID 26918975 
  5. ^ Naeye, Robert 11 February 2016 "Gravitational Wave Detection Heralds New Era of Science" Sky and Telescope Retrieved 11 February 2016 
  6. ^ Castelvecchi, Davide; Witze, Alexandra 11 February 2016 "Einstein's gravitational waves found at last" Nature News doi:101038/nature201619361 Retrieved 11 February 2016 
  7. ^ Cho, Adrian 2016 "Will Nobel Prize overlook master builder of gravitational wave detectors" Science doi:101126/scienceaah7350 ISSN 0036-8075 
  8. ^ "Gravitational waves pioneer Ronald Drever dies" Jonathan Amos BBC 8 March 2017 Retrieved 10 March 2017 
  9. ^ "Nobel Prize in Physics 2017 press release" nobelprizeorg 
  10. ^ Anon 2016 "The University of Glasgow Story: Ronald Drever" universitystoryglaacuk Glasgow: University of Glasgow Archived from the original on 2016-12-05 
  11. ^ Drever, Ronald William Prest 1959 Studies of orbital electron capture using proportional counters PhD thesis University of Glasgow OCLC 298416389 
  12. ^ Prof R G Moorhouse 23 August 2002 "Gravitational Waves Detected, Confirming Einstein's Theory" The Herald Scotland The Herald Scotland Retrieved 28 December 2017 
  13. ^ "£500K BEQUEST MAKES SPLASH WITH GLASGOW GRAVITATIONAL WAVE SCIENTISTS" glaacuk University of Glasgow 28 December 2017 Retrieved 28 December 2017 
  14. ^ OVERBYE, DENNIS , CORUM, JONATHAN and DRAKEFORD, JASON 11 February 2016 "Gravitational Waves Detected, Confirming Einstein's Theory" New York Times The New York Times Company Retrieved 12 February 2016 CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  15. ^ Prof R G Moorhouse 28 December 2017 "£500K BEQUEST MAKES SPLASH WITH GLASGOW GRAVITATIONAL WAVE SCIENTISTS" glaacuk University of Glasgow Retrieved 28 December 2017 
  16. ^ S J Augst & R W P Drever 2000 "Measurements of Mechanical Q in Levitated Paramagnetic Crystals" PDF Amaldi Conference 2000 Caltech 
  17. ^ Five Caltech Faculty Members Elected to Membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Archived 2010-06-01 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Shaw Prize 2016
  19. ^ "2016 Kavli Prize in Astrophysics | wwwkavliprizeorg" wwwkavliprizeorg Retrieved 2016-06-02 
  20. ^ "Group 2: Astronomy, Physics and Geophysics" Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters Archived from the original on 22 December 2017 Retrieved 22 December 2017 

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