Weiss, Rainer, 1932–, American physicist, b. Berlin, Germany, Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1962. Weiss has been on the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1964 (emeritus from 2001) and on the faculty of Louisiana State Univ. from 2001. In 1975 Weiss proposed a concept for detecting gravitational waves, which had been predicted by Albert Einstein, by using lasers to monitor the distance between a pair of mirrors. With Kip Thorne and Ronald Dever, who were also working on gravitational wave detectors, he co-founded (1984) the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), which ultimately detected gravitational waves in 2015 (see gravitation). In 2017 he was awarded half of the Nobel Prize in Physics for his contributions to the development of LIGO and the observation of gravitational waves; Thorne and Barry Barish shared the other half for their contributions. Weiss also has studied and measured cosmic background radiation and was a co-founder of the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite.
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