As I do every year, I followed the Nobel Prize ceremony with great interest! You’ve probably already had time to take a look at the prize winners and their topics. Nevertheless, I would like to give you an overview of what it was all about, why it is important and what was so special about this year’s prizes. We will also take a look at a prize that is almost even more beautiful than its role model: the Ig Nobel Prize in Physics.
Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” has made physics sexy again. For me, the film was an absolute highlight because many great physicists of the 20th century and quantum mechanics made guest appearances – gold for a fangirl like me! I went to the cinema with my physicist friends and afterwards, we discussed who we recognised. But there were also some details in the film that perhaps not everyone noticed or that there was more to them than meets the eye. That’s why I’m sharing ten things with you today that you may have missed in Oppenheimer.
As Andy Williams sang: It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, not Christmas – the Nobel Prizes were awarded! This year, the Nobel Prize Committee had a special gift for us: A Nobel Prize for Quantum Physics! Exactly 10 years after the last big Nobel Prize was awarded to the quantum physicists Serge Haroche and David Wineland. No question that we have to take a closer look.
Nobel Prize week is over. The one week of the year when scientists are stars of the media and everyone seems to be interested in research. If scientists were celebrated every day like musicians or movie stars and printed on posters in teen magazines – our world would certainly look very different. But until that happens, we’ll have to make do with this one week of fame.
Sometimes you have to make a choice. Some things you hate, for example, or you love them. Like Brussels sprouts, marzipan or Big Brother. In other cases, you have to take sides: Cats or dogs, Edward or Jacob, wave or particle. But as unlikely as it may sound, sometimes you can be two things at once. Although when this happens in the very foundations of physics, it can start heated discussions. Like at the beginning of the 20th century when Albert Einstein threw light into a deep identity crisis: wave or particle, which is it?
Is Einstein the father of quantum physics? Although most people associate him with the theory of relativity, Einstein made significant contributions to the development of quantum physics. In fact, he received his Nobel Prize in 1921 not for the theory of relativity, but for his explanation of the photoelectric effect – one of the key experiments in quantum physics. And like many discoveries in physics, this one was pure chance.
In my last article, I explained that, deep down, light consists of energy packets – quanta. These are created, for example, when light interacts with atoms, the building blocks of our world. That sounds very daring and raises many questions, some of them deeply philosophical. And while you are racking your brains about it, one question arises: Who actually thought this up?