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Article published the Tuesday 09 October 2012 - Latest update : Tuesday 09 October 2012

French Scientist Serge Haroche and American David Wineland share Nobel Physics Prize

Serge Haroche (L) and David Wineland
Reuters/Scanpix

By RFI

The Nobel Prize for Physics has been awarded to Frenchman Serge Haroche and David Wineland of the US for their work in quantum physics which could lead to the creation of supercomputers.
 

"Their groundbreaking methods have enabled this field of research to take the very first steps towards building a new type of super-fast computer based on quantum physics," the jury said in its citation.

The research has also led to the construction of extremely precise clocks that could become the future basis for a new standard of time, with more than hundredfold greater precision than present-day caesium clocks, it said.

The two specialise in quantum entanglement, a phenomenon of particle physics that has been proven by experiments but remains poorly understood.

When two particles interact, they become "entangled," which means one particle affects the other at a distance. The connection lasts long after they are separated.

In entanglement, particles also go into a state called superposition, which opens the way to hoped-for supercomputers.

Today's computers use a binary code, in which data is stored in a bit that could be either zero or 1.

But in superposition, a quantum bit, known as a qubit, could be either zero or one, or both zero and one at the same time.

This potentially offers a massive increase in data storage, greatly helping number crunching tasks such as running climate-change models and breaking encrypted codes.

Haroche is a professor at the College de France and the Ecole Normale Superieure in
Paris, while Wineland is a group leader at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado.

 

tags: Computer - Education - France - Nobel - Physics - Science - University
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