French, US scientists win Physics Nobel

A French and an American scientist won the Nobel prize on Tuesday for finding ways to measure quantum particles without destroying them, which could make it possible to build a new kind of computer far more powerful than any seen before.

Serge Haroche from France and American David Wineland, both 68, found ways to manipulate the smallest particles of matter and light to observe strange behaviour that previously could only be imagined in equations and thought experiments.

Wineland has described his work as a parlour trick that performed the seemingly magical feat of putting an object in two places at once. Other scientists praised the achievements as bringing to life the wildest dreams of science fiction.

"The Nobel laureates have opened the door to a new era of experimentation with quantum physics by demonstrating the direct observation of individual quantum particles without destroying them," said the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awarded them the 8 million crown ($1.2 million) Nobel prize in Physics.

Perhaps the quantum computer will change our everyday lives in this century in the same radical way as the classical computer did in the last century.

Wineland said he hoped this would give him a platform to communicate ideas, not just in this field but for fundamental research in general.

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