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The Nobel Prize in Physics 2012 was awarded jointly to Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland "for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems."
Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland have independently invented and developed methods for measuring and manipulating individual particles while preserving their quantum-mechanical nature, in ways that were previously thought unattainable. David Wineland traps electrically charged atoms, or ions, controlling and measuring them with light, or photons. Serge Haroche takes the opposite approach: he controls and measures trapped photons, or particles of light, by sending atoms through a trap. Their ground-breaking methods have enabled this field of research to take the very first steps towards building a new type of super fast computer based on quantum physics.
Due to the holiday travel congestion, Profs. Haroche and Wineland will not be able to address us personally. However, their empty chairs on stage will be addressed by Prof. David McIntyre, a local quantum optics expert (translation: knows how to solve only a two-level system), who will explain the wonderful physics accomplishments of these two quantum pioneers.