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French, U.S. Scientists Win Nobel Physics Prize

U.S. scientist David Wineland (archive photo)
France's Serge Haroche and the United States' David Wineland have won the 2012 Nobel Prize in physics for their work in quantum optics, which deals with the interaction between light particles and matter.

The announcement was made in Stockholm on October 9 by Staffan Normark, a member of the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institutet.

"The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics to Serge Haroche the College de France and Ecole Normale Superieur, Paris, France, and David J. Wineland, at National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Colorado, U.S.A. And the academy citation runs: 'For groundbreaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems.'"

Haroche and Wineland, both 68, work in the field of quantum optics, which deals with the interaction between light particles and matter.

In its statement, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the laureates had "opened the door to a new era of experimentation with quantum physics by demonstrating the direct observation of individual quantum particles without destroying them" -- something researchers previously thought impossible.

The academy said their work led to "the construction of extremely precise clocks that could become the future basis for a new standard of time."

It added that the research could also lead to the building of a new kind of "super fast computer based on quantum physics."

This year's Nobel Prize announcements got under way on October 8 with the medicine prize going to stem cell pioneers John Gurdon of Britain and Japan's Shinya Yamanaka.

The Nobel Prize in chemistry will be announced on October 10, followed by literature on October 11, economics on October 15, and the Nobel Peace Prize on October 12.

The prestigious prizes, founded by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, were first awarded in 1901.

The economics prize, which is not technically a Nobel Prize, dates back to 1968.

This year, the Nobel Foundation lowered the prize money 20 percent to $1.2 million, citing turmoil on financial markets.

All prizes will be presented on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death in 1896.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, dpa, and RFE/RL