Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Consideration of Balancing

The winners of Nobel Prize in Physics 2009 are as follows [1]: Charles K. Kao, Standard Telecommunication Laboratories in Harlow, England, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, for "groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication," and Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith, both from Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, N. J., USA, for "the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit &#; the CCD sensor."

About ten years ago, I learned that the CCD (charge-coupled device) had become an important tool for astronomical observation and even in my own field of radiation measurement, but knew neither the researchers who contributed to the development of this device nor the fact that it revolutionized personal electronics. Also, I have learned about optical fibers but not about the person who was a pioneer in that field. So it is good that we now learn about those persons owing to the awarding of the Nobel Prize to them.

Last year, three Japanese-born physicists, Yoichiro Nambu of the University of Chicago, Makoto Kobayashi of the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization in Tsukuba, and Toshihide Maskawa of Kyoto Sangyo University and the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics at Kyoto University shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for their theoretical work in particle physics. It is said that their discoveries were much more obscure to the everyday consumer [2]. By contrast, the discoveries of this year's winners were closely related to practical applications to things around us. Here we see the deep consideration of balancing by the Nobel committee for physics.

  1. The Nobel Prize in Physics 2009, Nobelprize.org (October 6, 2009).
  2. J. Matson, Nobel Prize in Physics Goes to Pioneer in Fiber Optics and Inventors of Digital Image Sensor, ScientificAmerican.com (October 6, 2009).

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