This year's physics Nobel Prize goes to three quantum researchers from France, the USA and Austria. Alain Aspect, John F. Clauser and Anton Zeilinger are honored for their research in the field of quantum mechanics, the Swedish Academy of Sciences announced. With their experiments, the three advanced quantum computer science.
The Austrian Zeilinger is considered the "quantum pope". The 77-year-old experimental physicist has been researching quantum teleportation for decades. She earned him the nickname "Mr. Beam" in reference to the legendary "Beam" in the science fiction series "Star Trek". When he succeeded in this teleportation - the transport of the state of a light particle - in 1997, the man with the full white beard soon became a sought-after interview partner.
Zeilinger succeeds in what only a few researchers are able to do in the field of highly abstract quantum physics: to explain immensely complex research results in understandable words. His amazement at the world and enthusiasm for his subject are still huge. Teleportation, i.e. the connectionless transfer of the properties of one system to another, completely amazed him. "It knocked my socks off back then and still knocks my socks off today," he told the Austrian news agency APA on his 75th birthday.
As a student of mathematics and physics in Vienna, he acquired the basics of his special knowledge practically on the side - instead of going to lectures on quantum physics, he preferred to study relevant books.
This year's Nobel Prize season began on Monday with the announcement of the prizewinner for medicine. The Swedish evolutionary researcher Svante Pääbo was honored for decoding the DNA of the Neanderthals and establishing paleogenetics. The Nobel Prizes for chemistry and literature follow on Wednesday and Thursday, the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday and the award for economics on Monday.