Congratulations to Dave Wineland

NIST's Dave Wineland has been awarded the National Medal of Science. Wineland is one of the most impressive figures in modern AMO physics, with a long list of accomplishments. As the NIST release explains:

Wineland is internationally recognized for developing the technique of using lasers to cool ions (electrically charged atoms or molecules) to near absolute zero, the coldest possible temperature. Wineland achieved the first demonstration of laser cooling in 1978 and has built on that breakthrough with 30 years of experiments that represent the first or best in the world - often both - in using trapped laser-cooled ions to test theories in quantum physics and demonstrate crucial applications such as new forms of computation.

Wineland's breakthroughs led to work by groups throughout the world on laser cooling and trapping of neutral atoms, culminating in the 1997 Nobel Prize to William D. Phillips of NIST, Steven Chu and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji for development of neutral atom laser cooling.[...]

Wineland's work led to the development of laser-cooled atomic clocks, the current state of the art in time and frequency standards. His laser-cooled trapped ion technique was used by members of his group to demonstrate an experimental clock based on a single mercury ion that is currently the best in the world, as well as a "logic clock" using an aluminum ion that is nearly as accurate. [...]

Wineland also helped launch the field of experimental quantum computing. Through many pioneering experiments, his group was the first to successfully demonstrate the building blocks of a practical quantum computer, a device that could solve some problems, such as breaking the best encryption codes, that are intractable using today's technology.

Some people thought Wineland should've had a share of the 1997 Nobel. Others hold out hope that he might be in line for dynamite money in the future-- maybe some sort of Wineland/ Zeilinger/ Aspect Nobel for fundamental tests of quantum mechanics.

Whether he ever gets a trip to Sweden or not, though, he's a stellar scientist, and his group at NIST has been producing awe-inspiring work for something like thirty years now, with not much sign of slowing. This is a richly deserved honor.

(Update: If you like your physics news with spurious extra vowels, Physics World has more.)


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It's Zeilinger, not Zollinger. That is unless you are playing some sort of word game with the names Zoller and Zeilinger...


Thanks for noticing this and posting it. As an ion trapper I don't think we get enough press. And Dave Wineland is one of the nicest people I have ever associated with, in or out of physics. He deserves all the recognition and, I think, the Nobel Prize, too.

It's Zeilinger, not Zollinger.

Gah! I hate it when I do that...
It's fixed, now. This is what I get for trying to do three things at the same time...

Dave Wineland is one of the nicest people I have ever associated with, in or out of physics.

I've never had much contact with him, but that's been my impression from the times he visited our group in Gaithersburg, and at meetings. Glad to here he really is a good guy.

He's a terrific guy, and a perfect example of the NIST archetype of really nice people doing world-leading science. It's great he won this.

That's Spurios, you failing to spell consistently person. You may not have expected them, but the Spanish Inquisition will nonetheless put you in a comfy chair.

A Wineland/Zeilinger/Aspect Nobel would be waaaay overdue. Unfortunately, there's a bit too much politics wrapped up in the whole process (just ask Freeman Dyson).

I want to affirm that Dave Wineland is indeed a very nice person in addition to being brilliant!

All of the Winelands are brilliant and overwhelmingly friendly.

Nobel Schnobel.. the world runs on time because of Dave.

By barbara maclean (not verified) on 05 Jan 2010 #permalink