Canadian Nobel physics laureate hails womens' progress


"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".

The Swedish academy praised them for developing a way to increase the power and usefulness of lasers. For the most powerful lasers of this type, the intensities that can be achieved are astounding - greater even than found in the centre of the sun.

There is a Rochester connection to recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics which was announced on Tuesday. Frenchman Gérard Mourou of the École Polytechnique and University of MI shares half of the prize's $1 million with Strickland; Ashkin gets the other half. "Advanced precision instruments are opening up unexplored areas of research and a multitude of industrial and medical applications". Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, Physics, and Chemistry are conferred upon people who have excelled in the field of science.

Strickland later spoke of how her predecessor, Goeppert Mayer, had been "allowed to follow her husband from job to job while he. went up the ranks as a professor", while she was only allowed to teach or do unpaid research. The economics victor in 2012, Lloyd Shapley, was 89.

She shares half the $1.4-million prize with French laser physicist Gérard Mourou.

"I'm honoured to be one of those women", Dr. Strickland told reporters during a brief telephone news conference after the prize announcement.

On winning the Nobel, she told the AP: "I just find the whole thing surreal".

Jessica Wade, a physicist at Imperial College London who was at the CERN event and unhappy about Strumia's comments, said having a female Nobel victor was also important given the current fight over US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who is facing sexual misconduct allegations.

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"Obviously we need to celebrate women physicists because we are out there and hopefully in time it will start to move forward at a faster rate", she said shortly after learning of the prize.

Many (presumably under the age of 55) pointed out that this was the first time in their lifetime a woman had won the award.

Strickland is the first female Nobel laureate in any field in three years. The first was Marie Curie of France in 1903.

Strickland was named on Tuesday along with scientists from the United States and France for their work with lasers.

Amid this week of Nobel Prizes, the annual award for Physics made history in honoring a trio for revolutionary gains in laser technology at the end of the 20 century.

Sweden's Royal Academy of Sciences, which chose the winners, said Strickland and Mourou will receive a quarter of the prize each for their work "generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses", which have become a critical part of corrective eye surgeries amongst other uses.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which chose the winners, said Ashkin's development of "optical tweezers" that can grab tiny particles such as viruses without damaging them realized "an old dream of science fiction - using the radiation pressure of light to move physical objects".