A glance at the Nobel Prize for physics

Associated Press
In this combination of photos made Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, American physicist David Wineland, left, poses at his home in Boulder, Colo., and French physicist Serge Haroche speaks to the media in Paris after they were named winners of the 2012 Nobel Prize in physics. The French-American duo shared the prize for experiments on quantum particles that have already resulted in ultra-precise clocks and may one day help lead to computers many times faster than those in use today. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, left; Michel Euler, right)
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In this combination of photos made Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, American physicist David Wineland, left, poses at his home in Boulder, Colo., and French physicist Serge Haroche speaks to the media in Paris after they were named winners of the 2012 Nobel Prize in physics. The French-American duo shared the prize for experiments on quantum particles that have already resulted in ultra-precise clocks and may one day help lead to computers many times faster than those in use today. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, left; Michel Euler, right)

WHO WON?

Frenchman Serge Haroche of the College de France and Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris, and American David Wineland of the University of Colorado in Boulder.

FOR WHAT?

The two were cited for inventing and developing methods for observing tiny quantum particles without destroying them.

THE SIGNIFICANCE?

Their research has led to the construction of extremely precise clocks that could become the basis for a new standard of measuring time and helped scientists take the first steps toward building superfast computers.

WHAT THEY SAID?

Haroche: "It's very overwhelming. ... At first I called my children. ... There are a lot of people in the world that deserve the prize so I tried to not to expect too much." Wineland: "It was certainly surprising, and kind of overwhelming right now...I feel like I got a lot smarter overnight. ... When they also told me that the prize was shared with a good friend, that was nice to hear, too."

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