Three laser scientists win Nobel Prize for Physics

Clark Diaz
October 5, 2018

The announcement that a woman had been awarded the prize for physics comes a day after Italian scientist Prof Alessandro Strumia was suspended by Cern, the European organisation for nuclear research, for saying that "physics was invented and built by men".

Prize amount: 9 million Swedish krona, with one half to Arthur Ashkin and the other half to be shared between Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland.

The Nobel Prizes have come under criticism in recent years for the lack of female laureates across all categories.

In becoming the first women Nobel physics laureate in 55 years, Strickland won acclaim from her peers, who were keen to point out the boundary-pushing work done by female scientists across the world.

"We're going out of our way to try and increase the diversity at the laboratory... so I couldn't be happier about that, I think that's an exclamation point on top of this".

On winning the Nobel, she told the AP: "I just find the whole thing surreal". "I had stopped worrying about it".

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Ashkin was honoured for his invention of "optical tweezers" that grab particles, atoms, viruses and other living cells with their laser beam fingers.

Ashkin had made the discovery in 1987 at age 65.

Ashkin began working with lasers at Bell Labs in the 1960s.

In ruins and without a quorum to make key decisions, the Academy postponed this year's Nobel Literature Prize, a first in 70 years.

The news was announced this morning (2 October) by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and was "focused" on the major breakthroughs achieved in the field of laser physics, putting extremely small objects and incredibly fast processes in an entirely new light.

In connection with Strickland and Morou's developments, they were successful in creating a new technology to enable ultra-short high-intensity laser pulses. The academy said their 1985 article on the technique was "revolutionary".

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"Obviously, we need to celebrate women physicists, because we're out there".

Michael Moloney, chief executive of the American Institute of Physics, praised all the laureates.

He credited the work of all three with "expanding what is possible at the extremes of time, space and forms of matter".

The American immunologist and Tasuku Honjo of Japan jointly won on Monday the 2018 Nobel Medicine Prize for research into how the body's natural defences can fight cancer. He even suggested there could be no Nobel Literature Prize awarded in 2019 either - which is counter to the academy's current plan to award both the 2018 and the 2019 literature Nobels next year.

There is a Rochester connection to recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics which was announced on Tuesday.

He's been eager to get his research published.

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Arnault also has been suspected of violating century-old Nobel rules by leaking the names of award winners - allegedly seven times, starting in 1996. "Before, it was iffy".

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