American and Frenchman Win Nobel Prize
Serge Haroche of France and David Wineland of the United States have jointly been presented with the Nobel Prize in physics.
The two quantum physicists independently developed ways to observe and measure the behavior of individual particles of matter and light without destroying them. This is especially noteworthy because this task was previously thought impossible, because quantum particles tend to lose their properties when they are interacted with. In addition to sharing the Nobel Prize title for physics, they will also split the 1.2 million dollar prize that comes with it.
While the two quantum physicists had never previously met, their work is surprisingly complimentary. Wineland manages to trap individual ions and study them using carefully controlled beams of light, and Haroche traps individual photons and contracts them with individual ions.
These groundbreaking techniques allow the respective particles to be observed and studied without the particles losing their quantum attributes. Previously, when scientists attempted to interact with these particles, the properties that scientists hoped to observe would disappear, leaving them to postulate over what is going on via mathematical formulas and theoretical thought experiments.
Further Consequences of The Findings
Additionally, the findings also have fellow quantum physicists hopeful that the methods could be the first step towards the creation of a quantum computer. The findings have helped physicists to experimentally confirm the idea of “superposition” particles, meaning the idea that particles can possess the ability to be in more than one place at any given time.
Using these superposition particles, a computer could be created that utilizes quantum bits, which can take on two values simultaneously, whereas normal computers can only handle a bit, which is restricted to 0 or 1. Physicists postulate that a quantum computer would be capable of holding could hold two to the 300th power values, which is more than the number of atoms in the universe.
While physicists admit that this technology is still a while off, Haroche and Wineland’s findings represent a bright future for the quantum physics.