Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Nobel Prize in Physics

The Nobel Prize in Physics will be awarded to Yoichiro Nambu, of Fermi Laboratory in Chicago, Makoto Kobayashi, of the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) in Tsukuba, Japan, and Toshihide Maskawa of Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics (YITP), Kyoto University in Kyoto, Japan.

All receive the prize for work on broken symmetry, which describes the fractured symmetry of standard laws encountered at quantum levels. Scientific American has more on the announcement, including the nice analogy of an orange to describe broken symmetry: "although it's useful to describe the fruit as a sphere, it actually deviates from sphericity in subtle ways when examined up close."

For our reflection on Nobel speeches past, please enjoy George Bernard Shaw's after-dinner speech celebrating Albert Einstein, October 27, 1930. Nice dig at Napoleon at the start, that really killed the room.

(image credit: metal sculpture Broken Symmetry at the entrance to Fermilab, fnal.gov)