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Physics Nobel Prize Poll

LED lasers, quantum weirdness, graphene, and carbon nanotubes top poll of physicists.

The announcement of the winners of the next Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday morning will bring to an end the very private deliberations within the Swedish Academy, which selects the winner. It will also end the rampant public speculation about who will win the prize -- at least until next year.

In anticipation of that announcement, generally recognized as the highest achievement in the field of physics, the American Institute of Physics conducted a poll last week to tap into some of the speculation about who ought to win. (AIP is the nonprofit organization that publishes Inside Science News Service).

Click Here To View Poll Results

Posted to several websites frequented by physicists, the anonymous poll asked respondents to choose which noteworthy discovery in physics was likely to win the next prize. The list included 15 Nobel-worthy topics, along with the names of scientists associated with those topics. Respondents were also able to write in a discovery that was not on the list.

While the results are not scientific, they are revealing. Of the 320 people casting votes, most voted for experimental rather than for theoretical work.

The top discoveries were as follows:

1. For the development of the LED laser, Nick Holonyak; Shuji Nakamura, blue laser; Robert Hall, first semiconductor laser. These technical developments all have had enormous practical value. LED lasers, for instance, are mounted in most grocery scanners and CD players. (15.9% of the vote).

2. For studies of weird quantum properties, such as nonlocality, entanglement, decoherence, and atom optics (Alan Aspect, Serge Harouche, Anton Zeilinger, Charles Bennett, Anton Zurek, David Pritchard, Joerg Schmiedmayer, David Wineland, Peter Zoller). Experiments by these scientists tend to uphold all the counter-intuitive predictions of quantum mechanics, such as the idea that an atom can be in two places at the same time. (11.6% of the vote).

3. For discovering graphene (Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov). Discovered only a few years ago, graphene is a form of carbon consisting of one-atom-thick sheets. Already the subject is one of the most active in all of condensed matter physics because of graphene’s properties, such as its high conductivity and its great mechanical strength. Many scientists expect graphene to play a large role in electronics. (11.3% of the vote).

4. For discovering and developing carbon nanotubes (Sumio Iijima, Cees Dekker, Phaeton Avouris, Charles Lieber, Thomas Ebbeson). Still another form of carbon list makes it onto the list. Carbon nanotubes are soda-straw-shaped tubes of carbon, sometimes only a billionth of a meter wide and a few thousandths of a meter in length. Like their flat-sheet cousin graphene, they too have useful properties. Carbon nanotubes can be made to be conducting of electricity or semi-conducting, and are excellent conductors of heat. They too are strong and might one day be used to make components for electrical devices. (10% of the vote).

5. For predicting, discovering, and developing negative-index metamaterials (Victor Veselago, John Pendry, David Smith, Xiang Zhang, Sheldon Schultz, Ulf Leonhardt). Metamaterials are often structured from tiny components, such as tiny rings and rods. They produce novel optical effects. They are expected to find applications as lenses, in microscopy, and even in rendering some objects invisible, a process called “cloaking.” (8.8% of the vote).

6. For developing chaos theory (Mitch Feigenbaum, Edward Ott, James Yorke, Celso Grebogi, Harry Swinney, Benoit Mandelbrot). Chaos is the science that describes how our knowledge of some systems in nature quickly degrades. The weather is a classic example of a chaotic system. Even when we measure atmospheric conditions accuracy in many places, our ability to predict future weather remains poor. (8.4% of the vote).

7. For discovering and developing photonic crystals (Eli Yablonovitch, Shawn Lin, John Joannopoulis). A photonic crystal is to optics what a semiconductor is to electronics. A photonic crystal allows only light of certain energies to propagate. (5.9% of the vote).

8. For detecting the accelerating cosmic expansion (Adam Riess, Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmitt). Measurements of distant supernovas has led astronomers to believe that the cosmic expansion of the universe is not slowing or reversing, but actually accelerating. (5.6% of the vote).

9. For discovering extrasolar planets (Alexsander Wolszczan, Dale Frail, Paul Butler, Geoffrey Marcy, Michael Mayor, Didier Queloz, David Lathan). The development of a supremely sensitive form of spectroscopy allowed astronomers to detect (at first indirectly and later directly) the presence of planets around nearby stars. (4.7% of the vote).

10. For the discovery of the top quark (Paul Grannis, Mel Schocket, William Carruthers). Nobels have been awarded for the discoveries of some other quarks, so why not also the top? (4.4% of the vote).

Phillip F. Schewe
Inside Science News Service


  1. Very hard to choose there... special between 6 and 2.

  2. An overview on current trends in stimulated Brillion scattering and Raleigh scattering optical phase conjugation is given.
    CITATION: Phase conjugation can be done to have negative refractive index with self adaptive polygon squeezing by selective frequency/wavelength by difference in frequency modulation using dimensional squeezing method
    This report is based on the results of the “Second International Workshop on stimulated Brillion scattering and phase conjugation” held in Potsdam/Germany in September 2007. The properties of stimulated Brillion scattering are presented for the compensation of phase distortions in combination with novel laser technology like ceramics materials but also for e.g.,phase stabilization, beam combination, and slow light. Photorefractive nonlinear mirrors and resonant refractive index gratings are addressed as phase conjugating mirrors in addition.
    For OFDM systems, it is shown that the lower bound is maximized by placing the known symbols periodically in frequency. For single-carrier systems, under the assumption that the training symbols are placed in clusters of length (2 + 1), it is shown that the lower bound is maximized by a family of placement schemes called QPP- , where QPP stands for quasi-periodic placement. These placement schemes are formed by grouping the known symbols into as many clusters as possible and then placing these clusters periodically in the packet. For both OFDM and single-carrier systems, the optimum energy tradeoff between training and data is also obtained.
    The meta-material All light or other electromagnetic waves are swept
    around the area, guided by the metamaterial to emerge on the other
    side as if they had passed through an empty volume of space." For a
    total invisibility effect, the waves passing closest to the cloaked
    object would have to be bent in such a way that they would appear to
    exceed relativity's light speed limit. Fortunately, there's a loophole
    in Albert Einstein's rules of the road that allows smooth pulses of
    light to undergo just such a phase shift.The device's meta-material.The tiny
    structures embedded in the metamaterial would have to be smaller than
    the wavelength of the electromagnetic rays you wanted to bend.
    material would be patterned in such a way to route the rays around the
    cloaked sphere. The invisibility effect would work only for a specific
    range of wavelengths as invisibility effect would work only for a
    specific range of wavelengths. That means it operates only over a
    narrow range of frequencies the cloak wouldn't reflect any light, and
    wouldn't cast a shadow either for possible digital microchip designs
    for signal corrections required during any heating by phase
    conjugated corrections. possibility that using Bose Einstein lasers, a
    frequency or That's a tall order for optical invisibility, because the
    structures would have to be on the scale of nanometers, or billionths
    of a meter. It's far easier to create radar invisibility. That's a
    tall order for optical invisibility, because the structures would have
    to be on the scale of nanometers, or billionths of a meter.wave length
    modulation can be made.


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