Sun | Nov 27, 2022

3 physicists share Nobel Prize for work on quantum science

Published:Tuesday | October 4, 2022 | 8:14 AM
Secretary General of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Hans Ellegren, centre, Eva Olsson, left and Thors Hans Hansson, members of the Nobel Committee for Physics announce the winner of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics, from left to right on the screen, Alain Aspect, John F. Clauser and Anton Zeilinger, during a press conference at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in Stockholm, Sweden, Tuesday, October 4, 2022. (Jonas Ekstromer /TT News Agency via AP)

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Three scientists jointly won this year's Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for their work on quantum information science that has significant applications, for example in the field of encryption.

Frenchman Alain Aspect, American John F. Clauser and Austrian Anton Zeilinger were cited by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for discovering the way that unseen particles, such as photons or tiny bits of matter, can be linked, or “entangled,” with each other even when they are separated by large distances.

“Being a little bit entangled is sort of like being a little bit pregnant. The effect grows on you,” Clauser said in a Tuesday morning phone interview with The Associated Press.

It all goes back to a feature of the universe that even baffled Albert Einstein and connects matter and light in a tangled, chaotic way.

Clauser, 79, was awarded his prize for a 1972 experiment that helped settle a famous debate about quantum mechanics between Einstein and famed physicist Niels Bohr. Einstein described “a spooky action at a distance” that he thought would eventually be disproved.

Clauser, Aspect, and Zeilinger have figured in Nobel speculation for more than a decade. In 2010 they won the Wolf Prize in Israel, seen as a possible precursor to the Nobel.

While physicists often tackle problems that appear at first glance to be far removed from everyday concerns — tiny particles and the vast mysteries of space and time — their research provides the foundations for many practical applications of science.

The Nobel committee said Clauser developed quantum theories first put forward in the 1960s into a practical experiment. Aspect, 75, was able to close a loophole in those theories, while Zeilinger demonstrated a phenomenon called quantum teleportation that effectively allows information to be transmitted over distances.

A week of Nobel Prize announcements kicked off Monday with Swedish scientist Svante Paabo receiving the award in medicine Monday for unlocking secrets of Neanderthal DNA that provided key insights into our immune system.

They continue with chemistry on Wednesday and literature on Thursday. The 2022 Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on Friday and the economics award on Oct. 10.

The prizes carry a cash award of 10 million Swedish kronor (nearly US$900,000) and will be handed out on Dec. 10. The money comes from a bequest left by the prize's creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, who died in 1895.

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