A French and an American scientist won the 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics on Tuesday for finding ways to measure elusive quantum particles without destroying them, something researchers previously thought impossible.
Their work could lead to the building of a new kind of super fast computer based on quantum physics, according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awarded the 8 million crown ($1.2 million) prize to French scientist Serge Haroche and American David Wineland.
“The Nobel laureates have opened the door to a new era of experimentation with quantum physics by demonstrating the direct observation of individual quantum particles without destroying them,” the Academy said in a statement.
“Perhaps the quantum computer will change our everyday lives in this century in the same radical way as the classical computer did in the last century.”
Physics is the second of this year’s crop of awards. The prizes, which reward achievements in science, literature and peace, were first awarded in 1901 in accordance with the will of Swedish dynamite millionaire Alfred Nobel.
Picture, from left to right: David J. Wineland and Serge Haroche
Photo credit: Wikimedia and Collège de France