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2009 Nobel Prize in Physics October 6, 2009

Posted by apetrov in Near Physics, Physics, Science.

The 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics went to Charles K. Kao of Standard Telecommunication Laboratories Harlow (UK) “for groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication” and to Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith of Bell Labs “for the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit – the CCD sensor”. For more info see the announcement.

Another very applied Noble Prize – this time in optics. The first half is given for a low-loss optical fiber cables (he suggested fused silica as a material for fiber cables) — it is interesting that Nobel committee states that “An interesting example of the use of fiber-optic communication in science is the advanced fiber optics network developed at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva that will transfer large amounts of information obtained by the particle detectors to computer centers all over the world.” I guess it is one way to connect fundamental physics with applied. Or maybe underline the importance of the very applied prize.

The second half of the prize is given for a device that is a heart of your digital camera (the charged-coupled device or CCD).  The idea is simple — a CCD is a device that can record a picture by accumulating light-induced charges over its semiconductor surface, which can be read-off at the edge of the light sensitive area. Boyle and Smith invented those n 1970. Besides everyday use in small cameras, CCD’s are used, for instance, in the Hubble Space Telescope’s cameras to make great scientific discoveries.

Maybe next year the Nobel Committee can consider invention of cars and buses that take great scientists to work to make their discoveries or jet engines that are used in the airplanes that take them to the conferences where those results are discussed. Or maybe some ground-breaking technology in oil extraction that is used to fuel those engines that take those great scientists to work on their “fundamental projects.” Those inventions are definitely worthy of Nobel Prize in Physics. Stay tuned!


1. JMlynarz - August 18, 2010

Or the coffee machine that fuels the brains of the Graduate Students and professors alike, making great discoveries easier.

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