Thursday, October 11, 2012

Nobel Prize awarded to quantum physics researchers

Physics is perhaps, in the humble opinion of your editor and Alfred Nobel himself, the most pure form of science, as it deals with discovering the laws that govern the world (and beyond) around us. Especially quantum physics has gathered interest in the last hundred years, giving rise to a fascinating and mysterious scientific field that we have only just begun to understand. That is why it seems fitting that the organizing committee awarded 2012's Nobel Prize for physics to two quantum physicists.

The winners
2012's Nobel Prize for physics was awarded to Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland, who did similar things in the field of quantum physics. They have both, individually, developed technology necessary to measure the properties of individual sub-atomic particles. Haroche is working in France, while Wineland is an American scientist. They have both attained the age of 68.
As said, these two scientists did not discover any exciting facts about the world around us, but their work did enable us to expand our knowledge. By developing techniques allowing for measurements in the realm of quantum physics, we have been able to expand our knowledge in this field significantly. Basically, what they did is allowing us to measure the properties of a sub-atomic particle without actually disturbing it. This is one of the biggest hurdles in quantum physics, where the delicate states are easily disturbed and changed due to effects of the measurement.

Being able to assess the characteristics of particles such as photons or electrons greatly aids our ability to develop practical purposes for quantum physics. For instance, quantum computing could theoretically radically increase our ability to perform calculations as well as increase the speed of data transfer, as recently demonstrated by a successful data teleport across a distance of 143km. As we are only just beginning to incorporate quantum technology into daily practice, awarding the people that have stood at the foundation of these principles seems appropriate.

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