Physics Nobel Prize

A single photon about to collide with a single atom. Collage.

I love physics. I am no genius unfortunately. I can understand the basics behind modern concepts in physics but I can’t (for the life of me) perform any of the calculations or derive any of the equations. That’s what I get for being an American (kidding!). But it was with great delight that I read this morning that 2 Quantum Physicists won the 2012 Nobel Prize.

What did they do to deserve it? Glad you asked! The two scientists, Drs. S. Haroche and D. Wineland, won the prize for basically proving the correctness of the bizarre properties of quantum mechanics, i.e. that electrons can be in two places at the same time. Through “ingenious laboratory methods,” the two scientists managed to measure and control fragile quantum states that were previously thought to be impossible to observe directly. Basically Dr. Wineland put a single atom in a box, and then hit it with a photon of light. Dr. Haroche did the opposite. He put a single photon in a box, and then hit it with an atom. In this way they were able to observe single quantum particles without destroying them.

According to the Nobel Academy:

“Their ground-breaking methods have enabled this field of research to take the very first steps towards building a new type of superfast computer based on quantum physics. The research has also led to the construction of extremely precise clocks that could become the future basis for a new standard of time.” “Their ground-breaking methods have enabled this field of research to take the very first steps towards building a new type of superfast computer based on quantum physics. The research has also led to the construction of extremely precise clocks that could become the future basis for a new standard of time.”

Neat!

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3 thoughts on “Physics Nobel Prize

    • Thanks so much for the comment. Yes, some of the ideas are very counter intuitive but once you do start to get some understanding it just makes you realize even more what an amazing universe we find ourselves in!

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