The Noble Prize in Physics has been given to Serge Haroche of the Collège de France in Paris, France; and David Wineland of the National Institute of Standards and Technology physics laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, "for inventing and developing methods for observing tiny quantum particles without destroying them," the CBC reported.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited the two scientists Tuesday "for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems. "Haroche and Wineland, both 68, work in the field of quantum optics, which deals with the interaction between light and matter.
"Their ground-breaking 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 academy said. "The research has also led to the construction of extremely precise clocks that could become the future basis for a new standard of time."At the heart of their research is a method each physicist developed, independently but effective, to observe (essentially by "trapping") individual quantum particles while not altering their quantum state—an achievement that will have considerable practical benefits in the near future:
The Nobel Laureates have opened the door to a new era of experimentation with quantum physics by demonstrating the direct observation of individual quantum particles without destroying them. For single particles of light or matter the laws of classical physics cease to apply and quantum physics takes over. But single particles are not easily isolated from their surrounding environment and they lose their mysterious quantum properties as soon as they interact with the outside world. Thus many seemingly bizarre phenomena predicted by quantum physics could not be directly observed, and researchers could only carry out thought experiments that might in principle manifest these bizarre phenomena.These scientists' discoveries will eventually take the thought experiments of the mind to practical applications in the factory, including building faster and more accurate computer technologies and using the knowledge toward bettering the many types of electronic devices that we now use or will use.
You can read the Nobel release here and the rest of the article at [CBC]