Jewish scientist awarded Nobel Prize for 'groundbreaking' laser physics work

Jewish scientist awarded Nobel Prize for 'groundbreaking' laser physics work

Three scientists from the United States, Canada and France won the Nobel Prize in physics today for work with lasers described as revolutionary and bringing science fiction into reality. "I think that he made so many discoveries early on that other people have done great things with that it's fantastic that he is finally recognized".

Arthur Ashkin, who won the 2018 Physics Nobel Prize for inventing "optical tweezers", poses in his home in Rumson, New Jersey, U.S., October 2, 2018.

A Canadian woman has won the Nobel Prize in Physics for the first time in 55 years. The second half was divided between Moore and Strickland for "method of generating ultrashort optical pulses".

The other half of the prize will be shared by Gérard Mourou, from École Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France, and the University of MI, and Donna Strickland, of the University of Waterloo.

"I'm surprised", Ashkin said about winning the prize. He said that he never dreamed that his research would take the direction it has.

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"The technology wasn't scalable", said Mats Larsson, a physicist at Sweden's Stockholm University and member of the Nobel physics committee speaking during the press conference. "I thought he'd missed his chance so to speak", Miles Padgett, an optical physicist at the University of Glasgow, tells Nature.

The CERN controversy - and the overall lack of female Nobel winners - has highlighted the obstacles that women often face in science fields, particularly in physics.

Ashkin's achievement was to develop highly focused beams of laser that could exert forces on small objects like atoms and biological molecules and manipulate them, move them around - just the way we use chopsticks to eat some food items. His discovery made possible new ways to study microscopic biology and other objects.

She has been teaching at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada, since 1997, where she oversees an ultrafast laser lab and works with a team of undergraduate and graduate students.

Mourou had been her PhD supervisor.

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Others used the technique to unravel how a flagellum works to propel a bacterium and other molecular motors, as well as resolving how motor RNA polymerase, a molecule that copies DNA into mRNA in the process of gene transcription, makes one-basepair steps along the DNA. They can also be used to grab and stretch cells, and so distinguish between normal and cancerous cells, he said.

The research by Mr Ashkin has let scientists study how proteins operate in the body and how they interact, he added.

Their article, published in 1985, formed the basis of Strickland's doctoral thesis at the University of Rochester.

"With the technique we have developed, laser power has been increased about a million times, maybe even a billion", Mourou said in a video statement released by Ecole Polytechnique.

She became emotional when told she was only the third to have won the physics prize - the first being Marie Curie in 1903, while Maria Goeppert Mayer won in 1963. And hopefully in time it'll start to move forward at a faster rate, maybe. Another guessed that the scientist had been dinged for canceling "class just to go to some awards show overseas".

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

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