Wed, Oct 08, 2003 - Page 7 News List

Three quantum physicists share Nobel Prize


Alexei Abrikosov, Vitaly Ginzburg and Anthony Leggett won the 2003 Nobel Prize in physics, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said yesterday.

The trio was awarded the prize for their work in quantum physics concerning superconductivity and superfluidity. Superconductivity allows certain materials at very low temperatures to conduct electricity without resistance.

Superconducting material is used, as an example, in magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, and can gave deeper insight into the ways in which matter behaves in its lowest and most ordered state, the academy said in its citation.

The award came a day after a Briton and American were awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for their work in developing MRI.

Gunnar Oequist, Secretary-General of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, called it a coincidence that the physics prize was similar to the medicine prize.

"Certainly the MRI camera is a major application of it and I think it's an interesting coincidence that the medical prize goes to an application whereas our prize goes to the discoveries that made application development possible," Oequist said.

Abrikosov, 75, a Russian and American citizen; Ginzburg, 87, a Russian; and Leggett, 65, a British and American citizen, worked to improve knowledge of superconductivity and superfluidity.

At low temperatures, certain metals will let an electric current pass through them without any resistance, the academy said.

Abrikosov is part of the Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Illinois. Ginzburg was the former head of the theory group at the P.N. Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow. Leggett is a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the US.

The prize includes a check for 10 million kronor (US$1.3 million).

This year's Nobel awards started last week with the awarding of the Nobel Prize in literature to South Africa author J.M. Coetzee.

On Monday, American Paul Lauterbur, 74, and Briton Peter Mansfield, 70, were selected by a committee at the Karolinska Institute for the 2003 Nobel Prize in medicine for discoveries leading to a technique that reveals images of the body's inner organs.

The winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry will be named this morning and the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel later today.

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