11 October 2007

Physics Nobel Breaks New Ground

The physics prize is typically awarded for advances in the understanding of how the universe works on a cosmic scale or quantum scale. But this year it was awarded to two scientists for a nanotechnology breakthrough.

From the MIT Technology Review:

This year's Nobel Prize in physics has been given to a pair of researchers who discovered a magnetic property that opened the way for today's fast and compact hard drives, making possible everything from iPods to the massive data centers that serve as the backbone of the Internet. The discovery has helped improve data storage density by at least an order of magnitude. And it is paving the way for several experimental technologies that could increase it even more.

...in awarding the prize, the Nobel committee pointed to the wide-ranging importance of GMR in opening up the new science of spintronics, in which both the charge and spin of electrons is manipulated. The discovery, which the committee describes as one of the first payoffs of nanotechnology, has in turn now become "a driving force for new applications of nanotechnology."

The physics prize may not be the only award to break new ground this year. It would be something new if Gore wins the Peace Prize because it is usually awarded for direct efforts to rid violence and injustice in a specific part of the world.

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