Major laser picks up Nobel Physics win
American, French and Canadian scientists win prize for inventing optical lasers that paved the way for advanced precision instruments used in corrective eye surgery
Three scientists on Tuesday won the Nobel Physics Prize, including the first woman in 55 years, for inventing optical lasers that have paved the way for advanced precision instruments used in corrective eye surgery, the jury said. Arthur Ashkin of the United States won one half of the nine million Swedish kronor (about $1.01 million or 870,000 euros) prize, while Gerard Mourou of France and Donna Strickland of Canada shared the other half.
Strickland is just the third woman to win a Nobel Physics Prize since it was first awarded in 1901, while Ashkin, 96, is the oldest person to win a Nobel, beating out American Leonid Hurwicz who was 90 when he won the 2007 Economics Prize.
Ashkin was honoured for his invention of "optical tweezers" that grab particles, atoms, viruses and other living cells with their laser beam fingers. Meanwhile Mourou, 74, and Strickland won for helping develop a method to generate ultra-short optical pulses, "the shortest and most intense laser pulses ever created by mankind," the jury said. Their technique is now used in corrective eye surgery.
Speaking by phone to the Academy, a moved Strickland said she was thrilled to receive the Nobel prize that has been the least accessible for women. "We need to celebrate women physicists because they're out there... I'm honoured to be one of those women."
Never dreamed of this, says Allison
James Allison, the winner of the 2018 Nobel Medicine Prize, has said he never dreamed that his research would take the direction it has. Allison said: "I never dreamed my research would take the direction it has. It's a great, emotional privilege to meet cancer patients who've been successfully treated with immune checkpoint blockade. They are living proof of the power of basic science, of following our urge to learn and to understand how things work."
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