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Physical Attraction

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We are a physics podcast. But not just a physics podcast - interviews with scientists, scholars, authors and reflections on the history and future of science and technology are all in the wheelhouse.

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Oct 9, 2018

So, as you probably already know by now, the Nobel Prize in Physics 2018 was awarded to another trio: Gérard Mourou, Arthur Ashkin and Donna Strickland, “for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics”. Specifically, Arthur Ashkin was awarded the prize ““for the invention of optical tweezers and their application to biological systems” and Mourou and Strickland were awarded the prize for developing chirped pulse amplification, a method of generating very short but very high-intensity pulses of light with lasers.

In this episode, we'll describe how they made these groundbreaking discoveries, and what they meant for science and physics in the years that followed.

But as dismal as the world might seem sometimes, there’s still so much joy to be found in the world of science, the world of physics, and the glorious intricacies of the vast, complex, beautiful and mysterious universe we all live in. And the human ingenuity that has gone into allowing us to discover that, to even make strides towards understanding it, is one of the best parts of our species. Both of these discoveries, chirped pulse amplification and optical tweezers, represent clever tools that we have developed to allow us to probe and explore and understand nature, and there can be few greater undertakings than that. So here’s to the scientists who won the Nobel Prize in 2018, for giving us the tools that can help in many more discoveries to come.

That’s all for this special episode. Remember, if you like the show, which consumes my nights and weekends with its fiery lust, there are plenty of things you can do to support us. Visit the website at where you’ll find a contact form: I read all your email and try to respond where I can, but it’s really the best part about doing this show is actually hearing from listeners, so you can know that if nothing else you’ll make my day by sending your message. Go ahead, punk. There you’ll also find a form where you can donate to the show, or purchase some of our previous bonus episodes. There’s a Patreon where you can subscribe to do that automatically in the future, so you don’t even need to fiddle with Paypal. You can follow us on Twitter @physicspod and on Facebook, Physical Attraction. You can go listen to our sister show, and by our sister show I mean the other thing I record in my free time, Autocracy Now – at – we’re just coming to the end of Stalin’s life, which is a great relief both for me personally and the people of the world in general. But, as I always say, the best thing you can possibly do to support is to tell your friends about the show, and to tell them to listen. I have printed up thousands of postcard-sized flyers, so if you really want to go the extra mile or just give people some merchandise with our logo on, get in touch with me and I can send some of those over to you!