Tuesday, October 06, 2009

2009 physics Nobel prize: fiber optics, CCD

One half of the prize went to Charles Kuen Kao, a Hong Kong and U.K. engineer and a pioneer in fiber optics (left).

In 1966, one year after his PhD, he demonstrated that the high loss of the fibers of that time was caused by impurities in the glass rather than an inherent problem of the technology.

The other half is equally shared by Willard Boyle, a Canadian-born physicist (middle), and George Smith, a born Yankee (right), who invented the CCD while working in now defunct Bell Labs, New Jersey, in 1969.

CCDs, or charged-coupled devices, are gadgets designed to delay analog signals by transferring the electric charge to neighboring capacitors. They are used in digital cameras and similar machines.

As far as I know, no one has predicted these winners. And frankly, even after having heard about the decision, I wouldn't say that it was the best choice that could have been made. There are already way too many applied, engineering price of this type.

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