Physics Nobel Prize awarded for insights into light

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Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Roy J. Glauber (Harvard University) won half of this year's Physics Nobel Prize, and John L. Hall (University of Colorado and National Institute of Standards and Technology) and Theodor W. Hänsch (Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik, Garching) each receive a quarter of the prize.

Glauber clarified the quantum nature of light. He showed how light composed of discrete quantum particles (photons) can be reconciled with the wave-like behavior of light. His theoretical work laid the foundations of quantum optics.

Hall and Hänsch developed methods to measure the frequency of light to extreme precisions. Their findings "have made it possible to measure frequencies with an accuracy of 15 digits," for use in highly accurate clocks and new technology for global positioning systems.

The recipients will share a 10,000,000 kronor prize (1.5 Million USD), with Glauber receiving half and Hall and Hänsch each receiving a quarter of the total.