Physics Nobel honors discoveries that advanced eye surgery, virus manipulation

Jean-Claude Arnault arrives at the district court in Stockholm

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on Tuesday made a decision to award the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics to Arthur Ashkin (US) as well as jointly to Gerard Mourou (US) and Donna Strickland (Canada).

This year's prize is being split between Strickland; Arthur Ashkin, a 96-year-old American scientist (now the oldest Nobel laureate in history), who had a long, prestigious career at Bell Labs and other venues; and Frenchman Gérard Mourou, who has a string of awards and lofty academic titles under his name. The other half will be shared by Gerard Mourou of France and Donna Strickland of Canada.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that Arthur Ashkin of Bell Laboratories from the USA won half of the prize (9-million-kronor or $1.01 million).

Ashkin's optical tweezers are the real life version of Star Trek's tractor beams-although they're capable of grasping and manipulating only very small objects, like a single cell, not a whole shuttle craft.

The technique, called chirped pulse amplification or CPA, opened up new areas of research and led to broad industrial and medical applications.

Strickland's award is the first to have gone to a woman in physics since 1963, when it was won by Maria Goeppert-Mayer; the only other one was Marie Curie in 1903.

"Obviously, we need to celebrate women physicists, because we're out there. I'm honoured to be one of those women".

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Donna Strickland, born 1959 in Guelph, Canada. Ph.D. - "a lot of wrong turns" - before landing on the one that has now earned her the Nobel Prize. Its uses include the millions of corrective eye surgeries that are conducted every year using the sharpest of laser beams. As a result of this work, he won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1997.

While Ashkin's optical tweezers may sound stranger than science fiction, they make it possible for scientists to hold, observe and move tiny objects with "laser beam fingers". The other half was awarded to USA physicist Arthur Ashkin.

Baumgartner described Strickland's work studying powerful laser pulses as "pretty cool science" that continues to impact modern technologies like laser eye surgery.

Jessica Wade, a physicist at Imperial College London who was at the CERN event and unhappy about Strumia's comments, said having a female Nobel victor was also important given the current fight over US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who is facing sexual misconduct allegations. But then the stretched pulse is amplified and compressed, intensifying its power. He tells Reuters he was surprised to win the award, and that he's "busy working right now, writing an important paper on solar energy".

According to the press release, their work was published in the 1985, and was the foundation of Strickland's doctoral thesis. "Is that all? I thought there might have been more".

"This year's prize is about tools made from light".

The first physics prize was given in 1901 by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. His story was based on reports from VOANews.com, the Associated Press, Reuters and the Nobel Prize website.

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