Is there a connection between Nobel Prize winners and the Technion?

Two of the three Nobel Prize in Physics laureates for 2022 received honorary doctoral degrees from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

The Computer Science Faculty building at Technion University in Haifa, Israel (photo credit: BENY SHLEVICH/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
The Computer Science Faculty building at Technion University in Haifa, Israel
(photo credit: BENY SHLEVICH/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Two of the three Nobel Prize in Physics laureates for 2022 received honorary doctoral degrees from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa in recent years. The two are Prof. Alan Aspect and Prof. Anton Zeilinger, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their breakthroughs in quantum mechanics. They are sharing the prestigious award with Prof. John Clauser of California. 

Who are these Professors?

Zeilinger received the honorary degree at the Technion last summer as part of the events of its Board of Governors meeting. He was born in Austria in 1945. He is a professor and head of the Institute for Experimental Physics at the University of Vienna, president of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and senior scientist at the Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information at the Austrian Academy of Sciences. 

The honorary degree from the Technion was awarded to him “in recognition of his enormous contribution to science and quantum technology; in appreciation of his dedicated activity to increase the number of young people engaged in this field; and in salute to his efforts; his recognition of science as a platform that enriches the human spirit; and in gratitude for his long-standing commitment to the integration of the Israeli academic community in the European community.”

Aspect was born in 1947 in France and is a professor at the Ecole Polytechnique in Palaiseau that has since become part of the University of Paris-Saclay. He has won many awards, and in 2015, he was accepted as a foreign member of the Royal Society of Sciences of Great Britain.

He was awarded his honorary doctorate from the Technion at the Board of Governor's events in 2011 "for his great contribution and his impressive scientific achievements in the fields of quantum mechanics and quantum optics; in gratitude for the generations of his students who will continue to advance the development of technologies that change the face of the world; in great appreciation for His leadership in the science community; and in recognition of his friendship and support for the Technion and the State of Israel.” 

Artificial intelligence (credit: PIXABAY/WIKIMEDIA)Artificial intelligence (credit: PIXABAY/WIKIMEDIA)

The three new Nobel laureates presented experimental evidence for the existence of the quantum-entanglement phenomenon. Entanglement is a special relationship between particles. When two or more particles are intertwined, manipulation of one particle will simultaneously affect another particle that is at a great distance from it and this is without physical interaction and without the transfer of information; Therefore, Albert Einstein claimed at the time that it is a “spooky action at a distance.”

It was Aspect who showed that interweaving is an existing phenomenon; Zeilinger added to this the unique phenomenon of quantum teleportation – the transfer of a quantum state from a given particle to another particle. 

Here, too, there are important connections to the Technion: The entanglement phenomenon was first presented by Einstein, Russian-American physics Prof. Boris Podolsky (born to a Jewish family) and American-Israeli physics Prof. Nathan Rosen, who was one of the founders of the Technion’s Physics Faculty; the idea of ​​teleportation was proposed by six scientists, including the late Prof. Asher Peres, also one of the founders of the Technion’s Physics Faculty.