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‘Quantum is alive’: French Scientist Alain Aspect Among Nobel Physics Prize Winners

Published: October 4, 2022
Physics Nobel Prize Goes To Alain Aspect
French physicist Alain Aspect holds a press conference after winning the Nobel Prize, on October 4, 2022 in Paris, France. The Nobel Prize in Physics 2022 was awarded jointly to Alain Aspect, John F. Clauser and Anton Zeilinger "for experiments with entangled photons, establishing the violation of Bell inequalities and pioneering quantum information science" (Image: Sam Tarling/Getty Images)

Scientists Alain Aspect, John Clauser and Anton Zeilinger won the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics on Oct. 4 for experiments in quantum mechanics that laid the groundwork for rapidly-developing new applications in computing and cryptography.

“Their results have cleared the way for new technology based upon quantum information,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said of the laureates — Aspect, who is French, Clauser, an American and Zeilinger, an Austrian.

The scientists all conducted experiments into quantum entanglement, where two particles are linked regardless of the space between them, a field that unsettled Albert Einstein himself, who once referred to it in a letter as “spooky action at a distance.”

Aspect, a professor at Université Paris-Saclay and Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau, near Paris, said he was happy his work had contributed to settling the debate between Einstein, who was sceptical about quantum physics, and Niels Bohr, one of the field’s fathers. Both won Nobel physics prizes.

“Quantum physics, which has been fantastic field that has been on the agenda for more than a century, still offers a lot of mysteries to discover,” Aspect, 75, told reporters.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted his congratulations to the winners, adding “Einstein himself did not believe in quantum entanglement! Today, the promises of quantum computing are based on this phenomenon.”

Quantum physics is the study of matter and energy at a subatomic level involving the smallest building blocks of nature, a realm governed by laws jarring with those of the classical Newtonian physics used in areas such as the motions of celestial objects.

The more than century-old prize, worth 10 million Swedish crowns ($902,315), is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Physics is the second Nobel to be awarded this week after Swedish geneticist Svante Paabo won the prize for Physiology or Medicine on Monday (October 3)

The physics prize has often taken centre stage among the awards, featuring household names of science such as Einstein, Bohr and Max Planck, and rewarding breakthroughs that have reshaped how we see the world.

By Reuters. (Production: Manuel Ausloos, Lucien Libert, Olutoyin Amusan, Lucrezia Lozza)