The Noble Prize for Physics has been awarded to a woman Prof Donna Strickland, just a day after a scientist at Cern was suspended for claiming the discipline was ‘built by men.’
Prof Donna Strickland from Canada who will be sharing the prize with Arthur Ashkin, from the US, and Gerard Mourou, from France, is only the third woman in history to win the award, along with Marie Curie, who won in 1903, and Maria Goeppert-Mayer, who was awarded the prize in 1963.
“We need to celebrate women physicists because we’re out there, and hopefully in time it’ll start to move forward at a faster rate,” she said on a phone call to the press conference.
“I’m honoured to be one of those women.”
Jim Al-Khalili, the president of the British Science Association, who reacted to the announcement of the winner of the Noble Prize for Physics said:
“It is quite shocking to know that she is only the third woman to win a Physics Nobel, ever.
“It is also quite delicious that this comes just a few days after certain controversial and misogynistic comments made at a conference at CERN about women in physics.”
Prof Strickland was honoured, alongside Dr Gerard Mourou of France, for their work in creating the shortest and most intense laser pulses ever created by mankind, which are now used in laser eye surgery to restore vision for millions of people.
Arthur Ashkin, 96, was also awarded the prize for his invention of “optical tweezers” that grab particles, atoms, viruses and other living cells with their laser beam fingers. Prof Ashkin on the other hand, is the oldest person to ever win a Nobel, and will share the nine million Swedish kronor (about $1.01 million or 870,000 euros) prize with Prof Strickland and Dr Mourou. He however told the Nobel committee that he may not be able to give any interviews because “he is very busy with his latest paper.”