Serge Haroche, a French-Jewish physicist, has won the Nobel Prize in
Physics jointly with David Wineland from the United States.
Prize in Physics 2012 went to the scientists "for groundbreaking experimental
methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems,"
the website of the Nobel Prize said.
According to the BBC, the pair
developed solutions to pick, manipulate and measure photons and ions
individually, allowing an insight into a microscopic world that was once just
the province of scientific theory.
Haroche, who was born 68 years ago in
Casablanca, Morocco, told Le Figaro
that he "had a hard time understanding" the
news when a representative of the Nobel Prize committee called him on his
cellular phone to say he had won what is considered the highest form of
recognition of scientific excellence.
Haroche, of Collège de France and
Ecole Normale Supérieure, will share a $1.2 million grant from the Nobel Prize
Committee with Wineland, a researcher at the Maryland-based National Institute
of Standards and Technology and at the University of Colorado.Le Figaro
quotes Haroche as saying he was walking with his wife down the street when he
received the call from Sweden. He said he had to sit down on a bench before
passing on the news to family.
Richard Prasquier, the president of CRIF,
the umbrella organization of France's Jewish communities, told JTA: "The
achievement belongs to the scientists, but a small part of me is also proud
today." Mutual friends described Haroche to Prasquier as "a truly brilliant
thinker, known for his creativity," Prasquier said.
Prasquier noted that
Haroche had worked closely with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji - also a French Jew of
North African descent - who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1997.
Algeria-born Cohen-Tannoudji, 79, is still an active researcher at Ecole Normale
Supérieure in Paris.
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