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Nobel Prizewinners Provide Eyes on the Skies

6 Oct 2009, 17:07 UTC
Nobel Prizewinners Provide Eyes on the Skies
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The big news today among physics geeks like me is the awarding of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics to three eminent researchers. One-half of the prize goes to Charles K. Kao of the Standard Telecommunication Laboratories, Harlow, UK, and Chinese University of Hong Kong, "for groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication." The other half of the prize is shared by Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith, both of whom worked primarily at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey, "for the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit – the CCD sensor."It almost goes without saying that these inventions have pretty much transformed modern communications as know it. We can transmit huge amounts of data much faster via pulses of light as opposed to electrical pulses, as well as make crystal clear transatlantic phone calls, because of the revolutionary breakthroughs in fiber optics. And the CCD camera gave us the digital revolution: including killer special effects in film and TV. But space science also owes a great deal to these men. The Hubble Space Telescope, for instance, relies on CCD technology for all those spectacular space porn images it sends back to Earth. ...

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