archive: SETI FW: Sagan: Quantum Physics Trio Wins Nobel Prize

SETI FW: Sagan: Quantum Physics Trio Wins Nobel Prize

Larry Klaes ( lklaes@zoomtel.com )
Tue, 13 Oct 1998 14:45:33 -0400

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From: TracyEllen
Sent: Tuesday, October 13, 1998 4:46 AM
To: Sagan
Subject: Sagan: Quantum Physics Trio Wins Nobel Prize

Tuesday October 13 9:20 AM EDT

Quantum Physics Trio Wins Nobel Prize

By Jonathan Lynn

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - A trio of American and German scientists won the
1998 Nobel Prize for Physics Tuesday for their research into quantum
physics, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.

U.S. physicists Robert Laughlin and Daniel Tsui and Horst Stoermer of
Germany were jointly awarded the 7.6 million crown ($967,000) prize
for discovering that electrons acting together in strong magnetic
fields can form new types of particles, with charges that are
fractions of electron charges, it said.

The discovery, in a field of particle physics which has already
yielded a rich crop of Nobel prizes, is significant for the
miniaturization of electronic products.

As these get ever smaller, the atoms on the chips play a greater role,
making the products less reliable.

``This discovery could be a breakthrough in the barrier that limits
the smallness of computers, televisions and mobile phones,'' Anders
Barany, associate professor of theoretical atomic physics at Stockholm
University, told Reuters.

``This could be the micro-electronics of the next century.''

Stoermer, born in 1949 in Frankfurt and now a professor at Columbia
University, and Tsui, born in 1939 in Henan, China, but now a U.S.
citizen and professor at Princeton University, made the discovery in
1982 in an experiment using extremely powerful magnetic fields and low
temperatures.

Within a year Laughlin, born in 1950 and a professor at Stanford
University, had explained their results.

Laughlin showed that electrons in a powerful magnetic field can
condense to form a kind of quantum fluid related to the quantum fluids
occurring in superconductivity and liquid helium.

``What makes these fluids particularly important for researchers is
that events in a drop of quantum fluid can afford more profound
insights into the general inner structure and dynamics of matter,''
said the academy, which awards the prizes annually for the Nobel
Foundation.

``The contributions of the three laureates have thus led to yet
another breakthrough in our understanding of quantum physics and to
the development of new theoretical concepts of significance in many
branches of modern physics,'' it said.

Much of the work was funded by Bell Laboratories in the United States,
where Stoermer was supervisor of the physical research laboratory from
1992 to 1998.

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