Flint Southwestern graduate has ties to 2017 Nobel Prize in physics

Published: Oct. 5, 2017 at 12:32 AM EDT
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(10/04/2017) - Flint Southwestern graduate Jaysin Lord is now a part of history.

He was a research assistant assigned to a team of scientists at Syracuse University who helped make the breakthrough discovery of gravitational waves in 2015.

Three American scientists who built LIGO, the observatory instrument that detects the waves, have just been awarded the Nobel prize in Physics.

After graduating from Flint Southwestern in 2006, Lord decided to pursue his dream of attending Syracuse University at the age of 26, leaving a job at GM.

He ended up on the research team almost by accident, after responding to an email search ad for someone with programming experience.

The rest as they say, is history.

"We detected gravitational waves, proving Einstein's theory of relativity, when we detected the collision of two black holes," said Lord.

That discovery earned Flint native him the prestigious "Breakthrough Prize" in physics for his role as part of a research team at Syracuse University that made the initial observation of gravitational waves in September of 2015.

His mentor, Professor Duncan Brown, explains why this is such a big deal.

"Gravitational waves are a completely new way of looking at the universe," Brown said, "we can now listen to the sounds of the universe as well as seeing the universe through light and telescopes."

Lord's role in the project was to build a supercomputer to analyze the LIGO data. He came up with the idea of using game cards to analyze the information more quickly.

"My idea was why don't we take ten or one thousand different computers and have them all work on the same problem simultaneously," he said.

This week the three American scientists who built LIGO, the instrument that detects the waves were awarded the Nobel prize in Physics.

Rainer Weiss, a professor at MIT, and professors Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne at the California Institute of Technology were awarded the prize on Tuesday.

Professor Brown says their vision resulted in a body of research involving a thousand people over a period of more than forty years, the Syracuse group being one of the largest groups in the LIGO scientific collaboration.

Lord, who credits his success to his Flint roots, offers up the following advice to others about following their dreams.

"All you have to do is focus on that dream, go after it," he said.

Lord graduated from Syracuse with a degree in physics and applied mathematics in just three years and now wants to pursue a career on Wall Street.