Physics Nobel awarded to Donna Strickland, third woman in history to win
Strickland, whose research helped advance the field of laser science, is the only living female Nobel laureate for physics.
- Strickland, a 59-year-old Canadian physicist, helped develop a technique that led to many laser technologies used today.
- Two other women have won the Nobel for physics; one in 1963, the other in 1903.
- Strickland shares the award and $1 million prize with two other scientists, Arthur Ashkin and Gerard Mourou.
The 2018 Nobel Prize in physics has been awarded to three physicists, including one female, for their work in advancing laser science. It marks the third time a woman in physics has won the award.
Donna Strickland, a professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada and self-described 'laser jock', shares the award and a $1 million prize with Arthur Ashkin, a retired American physicist, and Gerard Mourou, a professor at the École Polytechnique in France and University of Michigan.
In the 1980s, Strickland and Mourou developed a technique called chirped pulse amplification, which produces ultra-short and "ultra-sharp" laser pulses through a three-part process that involves stretching, amplifying and compressing a laser beam. The pair outlined their landmark research, which led to the development of many medical tools including those used to perform laser eye surgery, in a 1985 paper. It was Strickland's first time being published.
Ultra-sharp laser beams make it possible to cut or drill holes in various materials extremely precisely – even in living matter. Millions of eye operations are performed every year with the sharpest of laser beams.#NobelPrize pic.twitter.com/MiYb4i8AHw
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 2, 2018
Female laureates: A very short list
Strickland, who's the only living female Nobel laureate for physics, said it's crazy to think she's only the third woman to have won the prize, the other two being Maria Goeppert-Mayer, who won in 1963 for her work on atomic structure, and Marie Curie who won in 1903 for her research into radioactivity.
"We need to celebrate women physicists because we're out there, and hopefully in time it'll start to move forward at a faster rate. I'm honored to be one of those women," she said in a phone interview with the Royal Swedish Academy.
Strickland wasn't the only scientist surprised by the very short list of female laureates in physics.
"The most thrilling thing for me is to see Donna Strickland share this year's prize," Jim Al-Khalili, professor of theoretical physics at the University of Surrey, told The Guardian. "It is quite shocking to know that she is only the third woman to win a physics Nobel ever... It is also quite delicious that this comes just a few days after certain controversial and misogynistic comments made at a conference at CERN about women in physics."
Al-Khalili was referring to comments made by Alessandro Strumia of Pisa University during a presentation he gave at CERN, the nuclear research center and particle accelerator in Geneva, in which he said physics was "invented and built by men, it's not by invitation."
Sharon Salzberg, world-renowned mindfulness leader, teaches meditation at Big Think Edge.
- Try meditation for the first time with this guided lesson or, if you already practice, enjoy being guided by a world-renowned meditation expert.
- Sharon Salzberg teaches mindfulness meditation for Big Think Edge.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
The navigation tool has placed a school in the sea, among other things.
- Google has apologized for the sudden instability of its maps in Japan.
- Errors may stem from Google's long-time map data provider Zenrin – or from the cancellation of its contract.
- Speculation on the latter option caused Zenrin shares to drop 16% last Friday.
Melting ice is turning up bodies on Mt. Everest. This isn't as shocking as you'd think.
- Mt. Everest is the final resting place of about 200 climbers who never made it down.
- Recent glacial melting, caused by climate change, has made many of the bodies previously hidden by ice and snow visible again.
- While many bodies are quite visible and well known, others are renowned for being lost for decades.
A new computer model solves a pair of Jovian riddles.
- Astronomers have wondered how a gas giant like Jupiter could sit in the middle of our solar system's planets.
- Also unexplained has been the pair of asteroid clusters in front of and behind Jupiter in its orbit.
- Putting the two questions together revealed the answer to both.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.