This time in 2022 it is Alain Aspect, John Clauser and Anton Zeilinger to be honored with the all prestigious Nobel Prize in Physics. They share the prize for their bits of contribution to the experimental understanding of entangled quantum states aka spooky action at a distance. The results obtained from these have helped to advance technologies based on the transfer and computing of quantum information.
Who are they and what did they get the prize for?
Albert Einstein once famously said that quantum mechanics should allow two objects to affect each other’s behaviour instantly across vast distances, something he termed “spooky action at a distance”. This idea is what in today’s date is called quantum entanglement. Though widely accepted and implemented today, it faced criticism initially with the rationale that for the two objects to talk to each other, information should be shared between them which, travelling at the speed of light (highest speed attainable), should take some finite time and any behavioral change should not be observed instantly.
It was a longstanding debate if such entanglement emerged due to some hidden variables not yet known. In the 1960s, John Bell came up with a mathematical inequality stating that if there exist some hidden variables, the correlation between the results of a large number of measurements will never exceed a certain value. However, quantum mechanics (well within the bounds of its super weird nature) predicts that a certain type of experiment will violate Bell’s inequality, thus resulting in a stronger correlation than would otherwise be possible.
In 1972, John Clauser while working with Stuart Freedman at University of California Berkely and developing Bell’s ideas further, for the first time performed an experimental test resulting in the violation of Bell’s inequality. Clauser a Columbia University graduate is well known for the Clauser-Horne-Shimony-Holt (CHSH) inequality, for the first experimental proof that non-local quantum entanglement is real (Freedman-Clauser), and for the formulation of the theory of Local Realism (Clauser-Horne). He is currently associated with John F. Clauser & Associates as a research physicist, consultant and inventor.
In an attempt to cover some loopholes in Clauser’s experiments, Alain Aspect developed a setup in which he was able to switch the measurement settings after an entangled pair of particles had left its source. This established that the setting that existed when they were emitted could not affect the result. Aspect is a French physicist and a graduate in Physics from École Normale Supérieure de Cachan. He is currently the Director of Research Emeritus at the CNRS, holder of the Augustin Fresnel Chair at the Institute of Optics and Professor at the Ecole Polytechnique.
Teleportation has always been an appealing idea through fiction stories and movies. This could be turned into a reality with quantum states. Quantum teleportation is a technique by which quantum information is transferred from source to destination by employing entangled states. This was demonstrated for the first time experimentally by Zeilinger’s group. Anton Zeilinger is currently affialiated as a professor at the University of Vienna, Austria.
The 2022 laureates have performed groundbreaking experiments on entangled quantum particles. Their results have significant implications in areas like secure information transfer, sensing technology and quantum computing. Each of the laureates played their part in building the story of quantum information science. Notably, this trio received the Wolf Prize in Physics too in the year 2010.
For more detailed information, you can read the attached Advanced Scientific Description herewith.
Who has previously won the Nobel Prize in Physics?
In 2021, the prize was awarded to Syukuro Manabe & Klaus Hasselmann “for physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming” and to Giorgio Parisi “for the discovery of interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales”.
In 2020, the prize was awarded to Roger Penrose “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity” and to Reinhard Genzel & Andrea Ghez “for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy”.
In 2019, the prize was awarded to James Peebles “for theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology” and to Michel Mayor & Didier Queloz “for discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star”.
In 2018, the prize was awarded to Arthur Ashkin “for the optical tweezers and their application to biological systems” and to Gérard Mourou & Donna Strickland “for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses”.
What about the rest of the Nobel Prizes in 2022?
Nobel Prize Winner Svante Paabo | Nobel Prize In Physiology or Medicine 2022
Nobel Prize In Chemistry 2022 | Sharpless For The Second Time
Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences 2022 | US Trio Bags the Award
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Akshat Mishra holds a Masters in Physics from DAE - Centre for Excellence in Basic Sciences, Mumbai. He feels the need to explore the depths of the not-so-dark universe while at the same time watch the quanta in action. Electronic Music is what puts him in the thinking zone.