U.S. Scientist Wins 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics

OSTP proudly congratulates American physicist David J. Wineland, of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) at the U.S. Department of Commerce, who today earned one of the scientific community’s highest honors—the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Wineland shares the award with French scientist Serge Haroche of the Collège de France and Ecole Normale Supérieure. The two were cited for their “ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems." OSTP Director John P. Holdren called Wineland at his office in Boulder, Colo., to offer his congratulations on behalf of the White House.

During 37 years at NIST, Wineland has made a number of major contributions to the field of physics. This year’s Nobel Prize citation specifically recognized Wineland’s experiments with the tiny particles of light and matter that make up so-called quantum systems. These particles are notoriously difficult to study because the mere act of observing them alters their behavior. The Nobel Prize committee called Wineland’s advances some of “the very first steps towards building a new type of superfast computer based on quantum physics,” and noted that the work is also facilitating the development of clocks 100 times more precise than today’s atomic clocks.

Wineland’s award marks the fourth Nobel Prize in Physics won by a NIST scientist during the past 15 years. This remarkable achievement shines a light on the extraordinary scientific progress being made in the United States to empower society with the tools to solve important challenges and unleash new possibilities for the future.

The full citation for the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics can be found here: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/2012/press.html

The NIST press release about this award can be found here: http://www.nist.gov/pml/div688/wineland-nobel.cfm

Becky Fried is a Policy Analyst at OSTP

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