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Ambassador Joins French-U.S. Team to Celebrate Science Nobel

Ambassador Joins French-U.S. Team to Celebrate Science Nobel

Published on March 22, 2013
Baltimore Hosts 2012 Laureates at World’s Largest Physics Conference

Read the Ambassador’s speech

As part of the world’s largest annual physics convention, the French ambassador helped celebrated French-American scientific partnership with a speech in Baltimore yesterday.

Called the March Meeting, the event, organized by the American Physical Society, gathered over 9,000 attendees.

Ambassador François Delattre

François Delattre, Ambassador of France to the United States, spoke after presentations made by the 2012 laureates for the Nobel Prize in Physics, Professors Serge Haroche and David Wineland.

The French and American scientists have conducted a 25-year professional relationship centered on the field of quantum mechanics, which involves the manipulation and control of atoms and sub-atomic particles.

Standing in front of a 1,500-capacity room where latecomers had to stand in the back, Amb. Delattre expressed his congratulations to both scientists, calling the team effort "close and fruitful."

"I look forward to future joint celebrations of a similar nature between our two countries," he said.

Dr. Serge Haroche

Drs. Haroche and Wineland’s joint Nobel Prize serves as the latest example of a history of excellence in physics, as each scientist spent formative years working with the field’s giants and at some of the leading research centers in the world.

Dr. Haroche, who currently heads the Collège de France, earned a degree from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in 1967. He completed graduate work at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in 1971, studying under Dr. Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, who also earned a Nobel Prize in 1997 for an effort with Americans William Phillips and the current U.S. Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu.

Part of their award-winning work took place at the Laboratoire Kastler-Brossel, based at the Ecole Normale Supérieure. The laboratory is the same in which Dr. Haroche completed his own studies that earned him his Nobel last year.

Dr. David Wineland

Dr. Wineland holds a similarly impressive record of scientific accomplishment. After studies at the University of California-Berkeley, and Harvard University, where he worked under the 1989 Nobel laureate Norman Ramsey, he pursued doctoral work at the University of Washington. He later completed post-doctoral work at the University of Colorado-Boulder. There he joined the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), where he has worked since 1975.

NIST’s counts among its alumni other Nobel laureates including Dr. Phillips (1997) and John Hall (2005).

In interviews following their presentations, the French and American physicists played down their individual roles in favor of the broader achievements by their respective teams. Dr. Haroche described himself as "especially proud" to share the Nobel with his U.S. counterpart.

He added that the tradition of physics research carried on by each laureate, inherited from the founding fathers of the field, bears an "important symbolic aspect" in his view.

Dr. Wineland called the Nobel recognition "great to share" with his French colleague. Both are "representative of a large number of people working on similar problems," and said the prize "could have been given to many besides myself."

Dr. Haroche also shared his thoughts on the increasingly international nature of scientific research. "The world hasn’t waited" to collectively push the frontiers of physics research, he said. More than just a profession, he said, physics is "a passion, shared by people from around the world."

Amb. Delattre touched on the related concept of "science diplomacy," a practice which "is becoming one of the best tools for progress toward peace and development." He said it was "inspiring to see bright physicists striving to be active, engaged citizens of the world."

The March Meeting was organized by the American Physical Society, an international association of 50,000 physics professionals. Founded in 1899, it publishes the journals Physical Review and Physical Review Letters. Its Executive Director is Dr. Kate Kirby and its rotating presidency is currently held by Dr. Michael Turner (University of Chicago).

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