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Quantum Particle Work Wins Nobel For French, US Scientists

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the watch-them-blow-it-all-on-fancy-shoes dept.

United States 38

thomst writes "Reuters is reporting that French scientist Serge Haroche and American David Wineland will share the 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics for their work on measuring quantum particles. (The article is very skimpy on details.)" The Associated Press article carried by the Washington Post is also quite thin, but along with the Reuters story says the Haroche and Wineland were selected for demonstrating "how to observe individual quantum particles without destroying them."

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Schrodinger's cat (5, Funny)

Metabolife (961249) | about 2 years ago | (#41595175)

Ok, so now we can see the cat.. now how do we pet it?

Re:Schrodinger's cat (4, Funny)

r1348 (2567295) | about 2 years ago | (#41595269)

I really don't get all this fuss about Schrödinger's cat. Now they can finally observe it, and they found out it was dead. As anything else that has been in a box since 1935. Where do I get my Nobel?

You're so very, very wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41595305)

Re:Schrodinger's cat (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41595317)

Ok, so now we can see the cat.. now how do we pet it?

I think, PETA [] condemns everything related to Schrodinger's cat. Including petting it.

Re:Schrodinger's cat (-1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 2 years ago | (#41595553)

I don't get it, since when is there a nobel prize for french, and why do you get it for physics research?

Re:Schrodinger's cat (2)

E. Edward Grey (815075) | about 2 years ago | (#41596409)

Most importantly, how do we post cute pictures of it on the Internet?

Go to the Source (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41595271)

Physics World article (4, Informative)

fishicist (777318) | about 2 years ago | (#41595301)

Physics World has a slightly more in-depth article [] .

Re:Physics World article (5, Informative)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41595549)

Some details on Serge Haroche's experiment: []

Really short summary is squirting individual atoms in a superposition state thru a microwave waveguide puts the field in the waveguide into a superposition. Not surprisingly figuring out the field inside a waveguide is something we're pretty good at after a couple decades of radar work etc. Now if you take two entangled atoms and squirt them thru the detector at different times, you can do/measure all sorts of interesting quantum effects by screwing around with the field in the waveguide.

I guess a /.ification of it, is if you're familiar with the concept of knowing if an ancient computer has a 1 or 0 because a lightbulb is on or off, this is the technological element a quantum computer would use to sorta display the 1 or 0 of a result, sorta.

There's a funny ancient computing analogy where you can't read a core memory, you can only write it and see if the energy required to write is consistent with it having been a 1 or 0 before it was overwritten. The analogy is you squirt an atom thru this guys lab experiment, what comes out isn't what came in, but you can work backwards to figure out what it must have been at the start, sorta.

Its a handy basic tool/technique for quantum "stuff". Kind of like being the inventor of the "test tube" or NMR or FT-IR or whatever.

It's A Trap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41595321)

Well, two actually; Ion Trap, and Photon Trap. But I'm Uncertain at this time as to which is which.

Two linked articles (2)

MiniMike (234881) | about 2 years ago | (#41595323)

I opened both links in split screen- I read two articles on the subject at the same time, in tribute to the excellent quantum particle research.

Poor Sheldon... (3, Funny)

Bazman (4849) | about 2 years ago | (#41595339)

... they gave the prize to _experimental_ physicists!

Re:Poor Sheldon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41595725)

... they gave the prize to _experimental_ physicists!

Don't worry, Sheldon will get the Milner's Fundamentel Physics Prize. ^_^

hopeful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41595413)

Well hopefully this doesn't turn out like the N-Ray. [french accent] luk it dosont get destroyed if you luk from ze corner of ze eye.

Details (1, Funny)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about 2 years ago | (#41595523)

The article is very skimpy on details

Oh yes, when it's about quantum physics, please bring a lot of details, with formulas and all... It'd help me to assess how low is my understanding of quantum physics...

Re:Details (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41598923)

Nobody gives a fuck about your inferiority complex.
You are not entitled to having things pre-chewed and dumbed down for you!
You're expected to use your brain and get up to speed, or be ashamed of your FAIL!

Why US flag? (3, Insightful)

cycler (31440) | about 2 years ago | (#41595563)

Now this might be petty but as a Swede it would be fun to poke at US nationalists a little :)

My questions is frankly; Why is there a US flag on this story? Yes, one of the scientist is from the US but the other is French.
Not withstanding the fact that the Nobel Prize is Swedish.

(This /. so I don't think there is anyone here that doesn't know were the Nobel Prize comes from)


Re:Why US flag? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41595645)

In the US, people think that patriotism is a virtue.

Re:Why US flag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41597295)

Because /. doesn't have a French flag icon?

Re:Why US flag? (3, Insightful)

Kidbro (80868) | about 2 years ago | (#41597691)

No, but it does have a science icon, which would have been more fitting. This is primarily a story about physics, not one about what happens in the US.

replacing 'french fries' icon back to french flag? (1)

Herve5 (879674) | about 2 years ago | (#41605333)

maybe the french flag was replaced with french fries long ago...

I remember some posters here indeed changed their sig. to some insult to the french national motto, you know, 'liberty/equality/fraternity' where US has 'in God we trust'.

We still have our issues here, like dying from silliness with the most important european homeopathy lab and huge sponsor, but still, we try to survive reasonably...

Re:Why US flag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41600771)

Because things don't exist unless an American is involved with them in some way. Read Wikipedia to see how it works - for all discoveries they struggle to include a American inventor, and when they really can't find one, they run several paragraphs about the 'first American' to use whatever it was, making it look as if the subject did not really exist until someone did it over here.

Heavier-than-air flight is a classic example - you would think that no one had done this until the Wright brothers. In fact, the first human was carried in a heavier-than-air machine sometime in the 1840s. The Wrights just happened to be the first ones (if you decide not to count Richard Pearse of New Zealand) who were around when sufficiently light motors had made sustained flight practical - and if they hadn't existed there were several independent inventors in Europe who were building exactly the same things, and would have been flying a year or so later.

But you won't read that in the Wiki...

Re:Why US flag? (1)

danceswithtrees (968154) | about 2 years ago | (#41601913)

Perhaps there is a bias to include Americans, maybe not. But I think using the Wright brothers is the wrong example to pick if you want to prove your point. They did a lot more than just "happen to be around" when internal engines became light enough and powerful enough. Their realization of the need for and development of three axis control made controlled flight possible. Without proper control, the addition of and engine would have eventually led to a fate similar to Otto Lilienthal ( Lilienthal's gliders were controlled by shifting weight around-- he died when his glider stalled. The Wright brother's ability to independently control pitch, yaw and roll is the breakthrough that truly made powered flight a reality.

Strange... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41595845)

It's at least strange that Nobel prices are rewarded such soon after those 'discoveries', without further research, and especially, without further understanding of the matter.
I'm sure those are nice tricks, but it doesn't help on getting a better theoretical view on quantum mechanics. In other words: 'we don't understand at all how it works, we just try to observe how it works, but we can't explain it.'

So, Nobel prices are now awarded for 'monkey tricks', sorry to say, since i don't intend disrespect for those scientists involved. I'm just saying that as long we lack a satisfying theoretical model for quantum mechanics, there should be no prizes at all for this area of expertise.

Re:Strange... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41595945)

We have a really good theoretical model for quantum mechanics... called quantum mechanics. It has predictive results that agree with measurements really well. The only downside is the difficulty of some of the calculations mean more complex situations can take considerable time to apply the theory to. Also, some people might be upset that there is more than one interpretation, although to some degree that is more of a pedagogical issue. If you stick to the math, you get solid, quantitative results.

Re:Strange... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41596199)

You confuse 'model', 'math' and 'statistics'. Yes, statistics have a predictive value too, just as math based on those statistics. But statistics and math don't make up a theoretical model, they can only support it.

Re:Strange... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41596405)

You seem to not have much idea what you are talking about and are just trying to play at semantics instead. Quantum mechanics is a rigorous theoretical model, derived from a simply set of principles, e.g. not some phenomenology based on curve fitting. Just because it is probabilistic does not mean it is not a model (there are plenty of other theoretical models that are of practical use and probabilistic in a much less fundamental sense). Maybe someone will come up with a non-probabilistic one, but a lot of work has demonstrated that the most obvious ways to do so can not possibly explain actual data. To say a predictive axiomatic mathematical model is not a theoretical model is BS that makes it sound like you are saying, "It doesn't count because I don't like it."

Re:Strange... (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 2 years ago | (#41599557)

Just because it is probabilistic does not mean it is not a model

There seem to be a large number of /.ers who will never, ever believe this. I'm not sure why.

Re:Strange... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41600245)

They might not realize how much that applies to, well beyond quantum mechanics. A large chunk of thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, and plasma physics deal explicitly with probability distributions of velocities, probabilistic collision operators, and averaging over various degrees of freedoms. At least those fields usually have some well defined conditions to indicate when various assumptions are valid, essentially becoming deterministic thanks to the law of large numbers. Although people attribute all sorts of probabilistic issues to chaos theory despite its deterministic roots...

Re:Strange... (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 2 years ago | (#41600957)

Oh yeah, the problem's hardly unique to QM, or even physics.

Re:Strange... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41596067)

"It's at least strange that Nobel prices are rewarded such soon after those 'discoveries'"
    Um, the work stretches back a couple of decades; a lot of it is based on Freedman's seminal work on Quantum Entanglement in the seventies. Freedman was on the short list this year, but he's moved on to Neutrinos.
    It is nice, for me, to see good experimental Physics rewarded, rather than yet one more theory that just Strings us along.

Re:Strange... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41596299)

Some three quarters or more of the Nobel prizes in physics is for experimental work, and many of the theorists that get the prize had been working closely with experimental results. And so far, no one has gotten a prize for work on string theory (although some string theorist got it for earlier work on topics such as QCD).

oh? (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#41595915)

We've resolved the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle?? /me throws his prototype compensator in the trash.

Inaccurate headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41596861)

Quantum Particle Work Wins Scorn And Accusations Of Blasphemy And Hersey From Chair Of US Science Committee For French, US Scientists

There, fixed the headline for you.

Nobel vs. Oscars (1)

CMYKjunkie (1594319) | about 2 years ago | (#41597111)

We will know that we have advanced as a society when the Nobel prizes are covered as in-depth and breathlessly as the Oscars.

The full details... (1)

TheSync (5291) | about 2 years ago | (#41598253)

The full details are here: []

The prize covers a range of work by groups lead by Wineland and Haroche including: sideband cooling of an ion in a trap, transfer of a quantum superposition of electronic states to a quantum superposition of vibrational modes of a trap, measuring the number of photons in the cavity in a quantum non-demolition measurement, and creation of a superposition of microwave field states and monitoring their evolution to decoherence.

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