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French-US-Austrian trio win physics Nobel for quantum mechanics work

October 05, 2022

STOCKHOLM: A trio of physicists on Tuesday won the Nobel Prize for discoveries in the field of quantum mechanics that have paved the way for quantum computers, networks and secure encrypted communication.

Alain Aspect of France, John Clauser of the United States and Austria’s Anton Zeilinger were honoured for “groundbreaking experiments using entangled quantum states, where two particles behave like a single unit even when they are separated”, the committee said.

“It has become increasingly clear that a new kind of quantum technology is emerging,” said Anders Irback, chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics. Albert Einstein and two other physicists first brought up the idea of quantum entanglement in 1935, in a thought experiment that became known as the EPR paradox.

It involved two or more particles that existed in an “entangled” state, which means that what happens to one determines what happens to the other. This occurs even if they are far apart, something Einstein dismissed as “spooky action at a distance”.

While quantum mechanics have proved the iconic physicist wrong, Aspect said Einstein still played an important role in identifying the issue. “We must give the credit to Einstein to have raised the equation,” Aspect said in his Nobel Foundation interview.

Aspect, a professor at the Paris-Saclay University, also noted the international makeup of the group as an important signal in the face of rising nationalism around the world, which he urged the scientific community to stand against.

“It’s important that scientists keep their international community at a time when... nationalism is taking over in many countries,” he said in a phone interview with the Nobel Foundation published on YouTube. Aspect and Clauser, a research physicist based in California, were singled out for their developments on the work of John Stewart Bell, who in the 1960s “developed the mathematical inequality that is named after him”.