Yesterday, it was announced that Frenchman Serge Haroche and American David J Wineland had won the Nobel prize in Physics for their groundbreaking work in Quantum Physics, leading to the creation of the world's most precise clocks and path towards quantum computing.
Yesterday, the Swedish Royal Science Academy announced that the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics had been awarded to Serge Haroche and David J Wineland for their research and development of ways for measuring and controlling individual quantum particles. The researchers have developed these methods independently.
Haroche (left) and Wineland (right)
One of their discoveries involves the development of a super precise quantum clock, reportedly 100 times more precise than the current standard cesium clock. Erik Karlsson, professor at the institute of physics and astronomy at Sweden's Uppsala University, stated that the new quantum clocks will likely become the standard in the future. The clock utilizes the trapping of paired ions in order to extend the reach of ultra precise optical spectroscopes.
The more important discovery involves the manipulation of quantum particles, which have opened the door to quantum computing, and could easily revolutionize the world in the same fashion as the development of the modern day computer has. Quantum computing utilizes principles such as entanglement and superposition in order to preform data operations: In basic terms, quantum particles are paired in a single quantum state, and whatever change is done to one of them, will affect the other. This change is independent of distance between them and the change in state is instantaneous.
This is a representation of a "Qbit", the basic data component in a quantum computer
Erik Karlsson continues to explain that the research team has proven that such a computer could be developed, but that it is uncertain whether we will see them within our lifetime. A computer, after all, has millions of parts and components, and mass producing such components is very different from proving a principle works.
During the press conference which announced the Nobel Prize, a secretary from the Science Academy phoned Serge Haroche who was in Paris. Many people, including Haroche, were not expecting him to win the prize, considering the high profile discovery of the Higgs particle earlier this year. It was within expectations that the prize thusly would go to Peter Higgs.
"It feels amazing," said the new nobeloriate. "I was out for a walk when I found out. I was so happy I had to sit down."