U.S. Government Employee Wins Nobel Prize in Physics

Saturday, October 13, 2012
David Wineland

An obscure office within the U.S. Department of Commerce collected another Nobel Prize in physics this week, giving it four in the last 15 years.


David J. Wineland, a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics, along with Serge Haroche of the Collège de France and École Normale Supérieure in Paris, France.


A specialist in trapped ions (electrically charged atoms), Wineland was honored for work that may lead to a new type of computer based on quantum 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,” the Nobel citation read.


Wineland’s work also has led to the development of extremely precise clocks “that could become the future basis for a new standard of time, with more than hundred-fold greater precision than present-day cesium clocks,” the committee added. The “quantum logic atomic clock” is considered the most precise atomic clock and is predicted to not gain or lose one second in about 4 billion years.


Wineland has worked at NIST for 37 years.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

NIST's David J. Wineland Wins 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics (National Institute of Standards and Technology)

Nobel Prize in Physics Goes To Federal Scientist (by Joe Davidson, Washington Post)

U.S. Government Wins Ig Nobel Prize for Report about Reports about Reports (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


Marc 5 years ago
National Institute of Standards and Technology is hardly an "obscure" agency to anyone who studies physics or chemistry.

Leave a comment