Nobel Prize for Physics goes to US, Canadian scientists

What the Nobel Prizes Are Not

The Nobel Prize medal. Credit robynmack96/Flickr CC BY 2.0

"I'm so damn proud of her", Lemieux said of Strickland. "But I'm trying to enjoy it".

Prior to that, the first woman to ever receive the Nobel Prize in Physics was Marie Curie, in 1903, of which she shared half with her husband Pierre, "in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel".

"It's kind of mind boggling, isn't it?" He studied in a Cornell physics department that included professors Hans Bethe and Richard Feynman, who both won the Nobel Prize in physics (Bethe in 1967, Feynman in 1965). The only other female victor is famed historical physicist Marie Curie. "It is also quite delicious that this comes just a few days after certain controversial and misogynistic comments were made at a conference at Cern about women in physics". "Really? I thought there might've been more", Strickland replied.

At the time, Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter published the testimonies of 18 women claiming to have been raped, sexually assaulted or harassed by Arnault, who had close ties to the Academy.

Jean-Claude Arnault, the man at the centre of a sexual abuse and financial misconduct scandal that forced the postponement of this year's Nobel prize in literature, has been convicted of rape. How ridiculous is that?

Eight women filed formal complaints, but all bar one of the cases were subsequently dropped for lack of evidence or because they had exceeded the statute of limitations. "First of all, you have to think it's insane". "It will keep improving, hopefully".

The Nobel committee said that when it informed 96-year-old Dr Ashkin of the news, he said he may not be able to do interviews today because he is very busy with his latest research paper.

"There was an even larger bias against women then".

Strickland noted she has not personally experienced fundamental inequality and believes the field is ready to give women a more prominent place.

Strickland says she has not yet spoken to Gérard Mourou, her doctoral adviser and the physicist with whom she shares the Nobel Prize.

Although Ashkin is officially retired, for the past decade he has been working on technology that can lower the cost of solar energy - a project he said has taken on more urgency, not only because of his age, but also because of climate change. "We did seem to be on the cutting edge of laser science, and I think we were all aware of that", she says. "I think it's wonderful when people plow through".

Nobel Prize victor Donna Strickland shows the media.

Ashkin, formerly a researcher at Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, New Jersey, developed focused beams of light called optical tweezers to grab and move the minutest elements of matter-from atoms to molecules to living cells.

One half of the 9m Swedish kronor (about $1.01m) award goes to Ashkin, while Mourou and Strickland will share the other half for their "ground-breaking inventions in the field of laser physics", the Academy said on its website on Tuesday.

Strickland and Mourou's invented technique, called chirped pulse amplification (CPA) soon became standard for subsequent high-intensity lasers.

Donna Strickland and Gérard Mourou were awarded one half of the award, with the other half going to Arthur Ashkin.

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