The Nobel Prize in Physics goes to a Franco-Austrian-American trio from the quantum world

published on Tuesday, October 04, 2022 at 16:28

With the Frenchman Alain Aspect, the American John Clauser and the Austrian Anton Zeilinger, three physics Nobel Prize winners were crowned on Tuesday, three pioneers of the revolutionary mechanisms of quantum physics.

The seventy trio will be rewarded for their discoveries on “quantum entanglement,” a phenomenon in which two quantum particles are perfectly correlated regardless of the distance separating them, the Nobel jury announced.

The demonstration of this property has paved the way for new technologies in quantum computing and ultra-secure communications, or even ultra-sensitive quantum sensors that would enable extremely precise measurements, such as B. that of gravity in space.

These mechanics were predicted by quantum theory. But even Einstein, who first raised the issue in 1935, didn’t believe it, calling the entanglement “a creepy long-distance motion.”

Alain Aspect said he was proud to join the list of big names in physics like Albert Einstein and gave the latter “part of the credit” for discovering entanglement.

“All these big names… Of course I’m very impressed because I’m certainly not at the level of these people who have completely changed physics. But of course I’m proud to be on the same list!” said the 75-year-old professor from the University of Paris-Saclay and the very prestigious Ecole polytechnique.

Despite the name “quantum teleportation” used for the mechanism of entanglement, “it’s not like in Star Trek” with the teleportation of objects or even more so of people, emphasized Anton Zeilinger, who was connected by telephone by the jury.

On the other hand, “with entanglement, we can transfer information without even knowing the information,” emphasized the 77-year-old scientist.

Quantum mechanics is a counter-intuitive science that describes the world on the scale of the infinitesimally small, where things can simultaneously exist, not exist, and be somewhere in between.

Based on this science, global economic giants like Google are currently mobilizing large numbers of researchers to shape a next generation of so-called “quantum” computers that are super-powerful.

– quantum computer –

“The first quantum revolution gave us transistors, semiconductors, computers and lasers,” Mohamed Bourennane, professor of quantum computing at Stockholm University, told AFP.

“But the second, based on superposition and entanglement, will allow us in the future to have quantum computers or quantum inscriptions useful for imaging or sensors.”

In 1981, in an experiment that is still famous today, Alain Aspect succeeded for the first time in entangling two photons at a distance of 12 meters.

Clauser’s work dates back to the 1960s, while Zeilinger has been promoting the field since the 1990s, according to the Clarivate Institute, which specializes in predicting Nobel scientists.

The prize is endowed with 10 million Swedish crowns (approx. 920,000 euros) in each discipline, which will be shared in the case of co-winners.

On Monday, the Swede Svante Pääbo, discoverer of the DNA of Neanderthals and Denisova and founder of paleogenomics, crowned the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology.

The Nobel Prizes in Science conclude with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday, followed by the much-anticipated Literature Prizes on Thursday and the Peace Prizes on Friday, the only ones awarded in Oslo.

The Business Prize, a more recent creation, closes the ball next Monday.

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