Physics Nobel honors discoveries that advanced eye surgery, virus manipulation

Trio Win Nobel Physics Prize For Work On Laser Physics

A screen displays portraits of Arthur Ashkin of the United States, Gerard Mourou of France and Donna Strickland of Canada during the announcement of the winners of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on October 2, 2018 in Stockholm.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on Tuesday made a decision to award the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics to Arthur Ashkin (US) as well as jointly to Gerard Mourou (US) and Donna Strickland (Canada).

Ashkin wins half of the prize for his development of "optical tweezers" which have allowed tiny organisms to be handled with light beams.

Dr Strickland shares this year's prize with Arthur Ashkin from the USA, and Gerard Mourou from France.

Strickland is the third woman ever to win a Nobel prize in physics, and the first in more than fifty years.

Speaking by phone to the academy, a moved Strickland said she was thrilled to receive the Nobel prize that has been the least accessible for women.

Strickland said she was honored by the nomination but also emphasized the need for more female participation and acknowledgment in the field.

The tweezers are "extremely important for measuring small forces on individual molecules, small objects, and this has been very interesting in biology, to understand how things like muscle tissue work, what are the molecule motors behind the muscle tissue", said David Haviland of the academy's Nobel committee.

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Wednesday: Nobel Prize in chemistry will be awarded.

Ideal timing: Strickland's win comes just days after CERN physicist Alessandro Strumia made controversial and widely-reported comments at a conference claiming that men are better at physics.

Immediately after the invention of lasers in the 1960s, Ashkin started trying to manipulate objects with light.

Mourou and Strickland, who share the other half of the prize, were recognized for their breakthroughs in creating "high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses", or beams of light strong enough to perform eye surgeries and precise laser machining.

"As far as sharing it with Gerard, of course he was my supervisor and mentor and he has taken CPA (Chirped Pulse Amplification) to great heights so he definitely deserves this award".

That invention has a variety of applications, including corrective laser eye surgery. "I thought there might have been more..."

Last year's physics prize went to United States astrophysicists Barry Barish, Kip Thorne and Rainer Weiss for their discovery of gravitational waves, predicted by Albert Einstein over a century ago as part of his theory of general relativity.

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