Education Science & Technology

The 1st Female Winner of The Nobel Physics Prize in 55 years: Donna Strickland

The Nobel Prize of 2018 in Physics has been awarded to Donna Strickland which is the 1st female to get Nobel Physics Prize in 55 years. Nobel prize has been around for 117 years. In that time only two women have received Nobel Prize in Physics.

This week we have finally saw the Third, after a gap of 55 years since the last women awarded the honour in 1963.

Donna Theo Strickland from the University of Waterloo in Canada recently awarded the Nobel Physics Prize for her work in Laser Physics alongside Gerard Mourou from Palaiseau, France. The two jointly share the pize with Arthur Ashkin, a retired physicist who worked at the renowned Bell Labs in the United States.

In 117 years 892 laureates have claimed the Nobel prize, yet only 48 of them have been women. One of the first women to ever receive a Nobel Prize was the inimitable Marie Curie in 1903, which was also the first time the physics prize was awarded to a woman, for discovering radioactivity. Curie went on to also claim a Nobel Prize in Chemistry later in 1911, the first person to ever claim two of the honour. The second woman to claim the Nobel Physics Prize was Maria Goeppert Mayer, a nuclear physicist, for her work outlining the structure of the atomic nucleus. That was in 1963, 55 years ago.

What they discovered ?

Strickland and Mourou found a way to stretch and compress lasers to produce short, intense pulses that are now used, among other things, in delicate surgeries to fix vision problems. Ashkin figured out a way to maneuver laser light so that it could push small particles toward the center of the beam, hold them in place, and even move them around. This technique became the delightfully named “optical tweezer.” It allowed Ashkin to use the power of light to capture and hold living bacteria and viruses without harming the organisms.

The award is, totaling about $998,600, is split between the three, with half to Ashkin and half to be shared between Strickland and Mourou.

After Tuesday announcement the name of Donna Strickland is flying high on the internet.

Unlike her fellow winners, Strickland did not have a Wikipedia page at the time of the announcement. A Wikipedia user tried to set up a page in May, but it was denied by a moderator with the message: “This submission’s references do not show that the subject qualifies for a Wikipedia article.” Strickland, it was determined, had not received enough dedicated coverage elsewhere on the internet to warrant a page.

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