Nobel physics prize won by first woman in 55 years


A Canadian woman has won the Nobel Prize in Physics for the first time in 55 years.

Donna Strickland is the first female Nobel laureate to be named in three years, and only the third woman ever to win the physics prize.

Marie Curie was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903, followed by Maria Goeppert-Mayer in 1963.

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

It recognises their discoveries in the field of laser physics – with Dr Ashkin developing a laser technique described as "optical tweezers" that can grab tiny particles such as viruses without damaging them.

Dr Strickland and Dr Mourou helped to develop short and intense laser pulses that have broad industrial and medical applications.

"Obviously 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, maybe," Dr Strickland said.

Image: Marie Curie was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903

The associate professor in the Physics and Astronomy Department at Canada's University of Waterloo has spent much of her life studying and teaching physics, and describes her research as "fun".

Her former PhD adviser, Dr Mourou, said he found it difficult to describe his emotions at winning the Nobel Prize.

"It's something that sort of never happens at this level," he said in a video released by France's Polytechnique school, where he is a professor.

"I am very, very happy to share this distinction with my former student Donna Strickland and also to share it with Art Ashkin, for whom I have a lot of respect.

"We invented a technique that made the laser extremely powerful."

Dr Strickland and Dr Mourou's work has enabled new studies of matter by allowing scientists to produce more powerful bursts of laser light, said Michael Moloney, the head of the American Institute of Physics.

He explained: "We needed a new way to create the peak power of laser pulses."

More from Nobel Prize

Dr Moloney added that the 55-year gap in between female winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics was "way too long".

On Monday, American James Allison and Japan's Tasuku Honjo won the Nobel medicine prize for ground-breaking work in fighting cancer with the body's own immune system.

Original Article


Sky News


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