This year’s Nobel Prize in physics was awarded Thursday to the three Americans who helped develop fiber-optic cable and invented the “eye” in digital cameras, technology that gave rise to film-free photography and high-speed Internet service. Half the $1.4 million prize went to Charles Kao and the other went to Willard Boyle and George Smith.
But a very close contender for the prize this year was University of South Carolina Professor Emeritus Dr. Yakir Aharonov(a-ha-RONE-ovf). That’s according to the Thomas Reuters(Royters) Citation Laureates, a professional organization that indexes research papers. That organization has been right nine out of ten times in guessing Noble Prize winners and predicted that Aharonov would win.
Aharonov was a physicist with USC and Tel Aviv University for 40 years until he left a couple of years ago for a position with Chapman University in California.
Aharonov received the prestigious Wolf Prize in 1998 for his co-discovery of the Aharonov-Bohm Effect, one of the cornerstones of modern physics.
David Pendlebury with Thomas Reuters says the professor’s ingenious experiment has been cited many times over the last 50 years.
“Bohm and Aharonov showed a spooky effect that electrons have innately, which was divorced from the environment in which they exist,” said Pendlebury. “That changed a lot of people’s understanding of physics and was very controversial for many years.
“With this experiment,” said Pendlebury, “they showed that the behavior of electrons violated classical conceptions of physics, that when an electron was shot with an electron beam and one electron passed within the area of an electromagnetic field, that another one was shielded from that field and yet behaved as though it was influenced by that field.”
Pendlebury says Aharonov is an internationally renowned physicist and famous for his contributions that have influenced many fields of physics for many years.