3 physicists share Nobel Prize for work on quantum science

By Seth Borenstein, Maddie Burakoff and Frank Jordan

Three scientists won this year’s Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for proving that tiny particles interact with each other even when separated, a phenomenon once suspected but now being explored for applications such as data encryption.

Frenchman Alain Aspect, American John F. Klauser and the Austrian Anton Zeilinger were cited by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for their experiments proving that the field of quantum entanglement is completely real. They showed that invisible particles such as photons can bind or “stick” to each other even when separated by large distances.

It all goes back to the nature of the universe that confounds even Albert Einstein and the chaotic nature of matter and light.

Even though they are now separate, the information or material that was next to them has a connection or connection – something that can be used to encrypt information and even teleport. A Chinese satellite now shows this and the fastest quantum computers that can be flown, still small and not very useful, also rely on this entanglement. Others hope to use the finest material.

“It’s very strange,” Aspect said in a phone call with the Nobel committee. “In my mental images, I accept something completely crazy.”

However, the three experiments showed that it happened in real life.

“I’m not very foggy as to why this happened,” Klazer told The Associated Press in a Zoom interview hours after his friends and media announced the award. “I have no idea how it works, but the entanglement seems very real.”

The winners who won with him also said that they could not explain how and why behind this result. But each of them has done more complex experiments which only proves that.

Clauser, 79, was awarded the award in 2015. In a 1972 experiment, combined with broken instruments, he helped settle the famous debate about quantum mechanics between Einstein and the famous physicist Niels Bohr. Einstein described what he thought would eventually be a “horror act at a distance.”

“I’d bet on Einstein,” Klauser said. But unfortunately I was wrong and Einstein was wrong and Bohr was right.

Aspect said Einstein may have been technically wrong, but he deserves a lot of credit for raising the right question and conducting experiments that proved quantum entanglement.

“Many people think that nature is made of things distributed in space and time,” says Clauser, who built a video game on a vacuum tube computer as a high school student in the 1950s. “And that’s not the case.”

Johns Hopkins physicist N. Peter Armitage said the work shows that “parts of the universe — even those that are far apart — are connected.” “It’s very unpredictable and goes against the way the world ‘should be.’

This elusive field began with thought experiments. But on the one hand, philosophies about the universe hold the promise of safer and faster computers, all with entangled photons and still connecting no matter how far apart.

Zeilinger, 77, told reporters in Vienna: “During my first attempts, the press sometimes asked me what the point was. And I arrogantly said, ‘It’s not pointless. I’m just doing it out of curiosity.'”

In quantum entanglement, establishing mutual information between two photons “allows us to do things like secret communication in a way that was not possible before,” said David Haviland, chair of the Nobel Physics Committee.

Nobel committee member Eva Olsen said quantum information “has broad and potential implications in areas such as reliable data transfer, quantum computing and sensor technology. His predictions opened the doors to another world, and shook the foundations of how we interpret measurements.”

The secure connection used by China’s Mikius satellite – as well as some banks – “is a quantum entanglement success story,” said Harun Siljak of Trinity College Dublin. By using an encryption key using one hash, only the person with the other hash can decipher the message, and “the secret between these two parties is the real secret,” Siljak said.

Bruce Schneier, an “incredibly cool” security technologist who teaches quantum entanglement at Harvard, says it’s strengthening an already secure part of information technology, while other areas, human factors and software, are more problematic. He likened it to installing a side door with 25 locks on an insecure house.

At a news conference, Aspect said real-world applications like the satellite are “fantastic.”

“I think we’re on the verge of quantum computing. I wouldn’t say we’re close,” a 75-year-old physicist said.

Speaking to a news conference by telephone after the announcement, Zeilinger, of the University of Vienna, said he was “still in shock” when he heard he had received the award.

Clauser, Spector and Zeilinger have been under Nobel consideration for more than a decade. In the year In 2010, he won the Wolf Prize in Israel, which could be a precursor to the Nobel.

The Nobel committee says Clauser first brought quantum theories to practical testing in the 1960s. Aspect was able to close the gap in those theories, and Zeilinger demonstrated a phenomenon called quantum teleportation that effectively transmits information at a distance.

“Using interpolation, you can transfer all the information carried by an object to another place where the object is reproduced,” Zeilinger said. He added that this only works for small particles.

“It’s not really the person, it’s not transporting an object over a certain distance like in the Star Trek movies[where one is],” he said.

A week of publicity for the Nobel Prize began Monday.Swedish scientist Svante Pabo accepted the prize Monday for unlocking the secrets of Neanderthal DNA and unlocking key insights into our immune system.

Chemistry is Wednesday and Literature Thursday. The Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on Friday and the Economics Prize on October 10.

The prize, which is worth 10 million Swedish kroner (about $900,000), will be presented on December 10. The money came from the will of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite who died in 1895.


Jordans reported from Berlin, Borenstein from Kensington, Maryland, and Burakoff from New York. David Keaton in Stockholm and Masha Macpherson in Palaiseau, France contributed.


Follow all AP stories about the Nobel Prizes at https://apnews.com/hub/nobel-prizes.

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