Rainer Weiss

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Rainer Weiss
Rainer Weiss.jpg
Michael Hauser, Photographer

Rainer (Rai) Weiss is professor of physics emeritus at MIT.

Early life and education[edit]

Rainer Weiss was born on 29 September 1932 in Berlin, Germany.[1] Fleeing political unrest, his family moved first to Prague, in late 1932, and then to the United States, in 1938; his youth was spent in New York City, where he attended Columbia Grammar School. He studied at MIT, receiving his B.S. in 1955 and Ph.D. in 1962 from Jerrold Zacharias. He taught at Tufts University in 1960–62, was a postdoctoral scholar at Princeton University from 1962–64, and then joined the faculty at MIT in 1964.


Weiss has brought two fields of fundamental physics research from birth to maturity: characterization of the cosmic background radiation, and interferometric gravitational wave observation.

He made pioneering measurements of the spectrum of the cosmic microwave background radiation, and then was co-founder and an intellectual leader of the NASA COBE (microwave background) satellite.

Weiss also invented the interferometric gravitational wave detector, and co-founded the NSF LIGO (gravitational-wave detection) Project. Both of these efforts couple remarkable challenges in instrument science with physics of the deepest importance for our understanding of the Universe.

Weiss contributed to LIGO through:

  • his inception of the measurement technique
  • recognition and delineation of the experimental challenges
  • building of early prototype instruments
  • leadership of the effort to propose full-scale observatories
  • engineering of the world's largest ultra-high vacuum system to house the instruments
  • commissioning of the initial detectors
  • forming and first leadership of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration
  • mentorship of many of the physicists leading the field.

Selected publications[edit]

  • R. Weiss, H.H. Stroke, V. Jaccarino and D.S. Edmonds (1957). "Magnetic Moments and Hyperfine Structure Anomalies of Cs133, Cs135 and Cs137". Phys. Rev. 105 (2): 590. Bibcode:1957PhRv..105..590S. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.105.590. 
  • R. Weiss (1961). "Molecular Beam Electron Bombardment Detector". Rev. Sci. Instr. 32 (4): 397. Bibcode:1961RScI...32..397W. doi:10.1063/1.1717386. 
  • R. Weiss and L. Grodzins (1962). "A Search for a Frequency Shift of 14.4 keV Photons on Traversing Radiation Fields". Physics Letters 1 (8): 342. Bibcode:1962PhL.....1..342W. doi:10.1016/0031-9163(62)90420-1. 
  • Weiss, Rainer (1963). "Stark Effect and Hyperfine Structure of Hydrogen Fluoride". Phys. Rev. 131 (2): 659. Bibcode:1963PhRv..131..659W. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.131.659. 
  • R. Weiss and B. Block (1965). "A Gravimeter to Monitor the OSO Dilational Model of the Earth". J. Geophy. Res. 70 (22): 5615. Bibcode:1965JGR....70.5615W. doi:10.1029/JZ070i022p05615. 
  • R. Weiss and G. Blum (1967). "Experimental Test of the Freundlich Red-Shift Hypothesis". Phys. Rev. 155 (5): 1412. Bibcode:1967PhRv..155.1412B. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.155.1412. 
  • R. Weiss (1967). "Electric and Magnetic Field Probes". Amer. J. Phys. 35 (11): 1047. Bibcode:1967AmJPh..35.1047W. doi:10.1119/1.1973723. 
  • R.Weiss and S. Ezekiel (1968). "Laser-Induced Fluorescence in a Molecular Beam of Iodine". Phys. Rev. Lett. 20 (3): 91. Bibcode:1968PhRvL..20...91E. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.20.91. 
  • R. Weiss and D. Muehlner (1970). "A Measurement of the Isotropic Background Radiation in the Far Infrared". Phys. Rev. Lett. 24 (13): 742. Bibcode:1970PhRvL..24..742M. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.24.742. 
  • R. Weiss (1972). "Electromagetically Coupled Broadband Gravitational Antenna". Quarterly Progress Report, Research Laboratory of Electronics, MIT 105: 54. 
  • R. Weiss and D. Muehlner (1973). "Balloon Measurements of the Far Infrared Background Radiation". Phys. Rev. D 7 (2): 326. Bibcode:1973PhRvD...7..326M. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.7.326. 
  • R. Weiss and D. Muehlner (1973). "Further Measurements of the Submillimeter Background at Balloon Altitude". Phys. Rev. Lett. 30 (16): 757. Bibcode:1973PhRvL..30..757M. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.30.757. 
  • R. Weiss and D.K. Owens (1974). "Measurements of the Phase Fluctuations on a He-Ne Zeeman Laser". Rev. Sci. Inst. 45 (9): 1060. doi:10.1063/1.1686809. 
  • R. Weiss, D.K. Owens and D. Muehlner (1979). "A Large Beam Sky Survey at Millimeter and Submillimeter Wavelengths Made from Balloon Altitudes". Astrophysical Journal 231: 702. Bibcode:1979ApJ...231..702O. doi:10.1086/157235. 
  • R. Weiss, P.M. Downey, F.J. Bachner, J.P. Donnelly, W.T. Lindley, R.W. Mountain and D.J. Silversmith (1980). "Monolithic Silicon Bolometers". Journal of Infrared and Millimeter Waves 1. 
  • R. Weiss (1980). "Measurements of the Cosmic Background Radiation". Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics 18: 489. Bibcode:1980ARA&A..18..489W. doi:10.1146/annurev.aa.18.090180.002421. 
  • R. Weiss (1980). "The COBE Project". Physica Scripta 21 (5): 670. Bibcode:1980PhyS...21..670W. doi:10.1088/0031-8949/21/5/016. 
  • R. Weiss, S.S. Meyer and A.D. Jeffries (1983). "A Search for the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich Effect at Millimeter Wavelengths". Ap. J. Let. 271: L1. Bibcode:1983ApJ...271L...1M. doi:10.1086/184080. 
  • R. Weiss, M. Halpern, R. Benford, S. Meyer and D. Muehlner (1988). "Measurements of the Anisotropy of the Cosmic Background Radiation and Diffuse Galactic Emission at Millimeter and Submillimeter Wavelengths". Ap. J. 332: 596. Bibcode:1988ApJ...332..596H. doi:10.1086/166679. 
  • R. Weiss, J.C. Mather, E.S. Cheng, R.E. Eplee Jr., R.B. Isaacman, S.S. Meyer, R.A. Shafer, E.L. Wright, C.L. Bennett, N.W. Boggess, E. Dwek, S. Gulkis, M.G. Hauser, M. Janssen, T. Kelsall, P.M. Lubin, S.H. Moseley Jr., T.L. Murdock, R.F. Silverberg, G.F. Smoot and D.T. Wilkinson (1990). "A Preliminary Measurement of the Cosmic Microwave Background Spectrum by the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) Satellite". Ap. J. 354: L37. Bibcode:1990ApJ...354L..37M. doi:10.1086/185717. 
  • R. Weiss, G. Smoot, C. Bennett, R. Weber, J. Maruschak, R. Ratliff, M. Janssen, J. Chitwood, L. Hilliard, M. Lecha, R. Mills, R. Patschke, C. Richards, C. Backus, J. Mather, M. Hauser, D. Wilkenson, S. Gulkis, N. Boggess, E. Cheng, T. Kelsall, P. Lubin, S. Meyer, H. Moseley, T. Murdock, R. Shafer, R. Silverberg and E. Wright (1990). "COBE Differential Microwave Radiometers: Instrument Design and Implementation". Ap. J. 360: 685. Bibcode:1990ApJ...360..685S. doi:10.1086/169154. 
  • R. Weiss (1990). "Interferometric Gravitational Wave Detectors". In ed. N. Ashby, D. Bartlett and W. Wyss. Proceedings of the Twelfth International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation. Cambridge University Press. p. 331. 
  • R. Weiss, D. Shoemaker, P. Fritschel, J. Glaime and N. Christensen (1991). "Prototype Michelson Interferometer with Fabry-Perot Cavities". Applied Optics 30 (22): 3133–8. Bibcode:1991ApOpt..30.3133S. doi:10.1364/AO.30.003133. PMID 20706365. 


  1. ^ Weiss CV
  • Mather, John and John Boslough, The Very First Light: The True Inside Story of the Scientific Journey Back to the Dawn of the Universe, ISBN 978-0-465-01576-4
  • Bartusiak, M., Einstein's Unfinished Symphony: Listening to the Sounds of Space-Time, ISBN 978-0-425-18620-6

External links[edit]