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For decades astronomers tried to prove Albert Einstein right by doing what Einstein thought was impossible: detecting the faint ripples in the universe called gravitational waves. They failed repeatedly until two years ago when they finally spotted one. Then another. And another. And another.

Three American scientists — including one who initially flunked out of MIT — won the Nobel Prize in physics Tuesday that launched a whole new way to observe the cosmos. Sweden’s Royal Academy of Sciences cited the combination of highly advanced theory and ingenious equipment design in awarding Rainer Weiss of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Barry Barish and Kip Thorne of the California Institute of Technology.

“It’s a win for the human race as a whole. These gravitational waves will be powerful ways for the human race to

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