The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to three remarkable individuals, one of which is a woman.
For many years, the highly coveted Nobel Prize in Physics has been given almost exclusively to men. In the past 117 years since it was first awarded to Wilhelm Röntgen in 1901, only two women received it: Marie Curie in 1903 and Maria Goeppert Mayer in 1963. However, the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics increases the number of women awardees to three.
Canadian physicist Donna Strickland, together with Gérard Mourou from France and Arthur Ashkin from the United States are this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics recipients. Strickland and Mourou were awarded for their work on super-bright, super-fast pulses of laser light. Ashkin not only won for his creation of optical tweezers used in the study of biological systems, but he is also the oldest scientist ever named as a laureate.
Strickland is the first female Nobel laureate to be named after three years and the third in the field of physics. The announcement made at the Royal Swedish Academy of Science in Sweden yesterday came just a day after one of the senior CERN scientists, Alessandro Strumia, was suspended for reportedly saying that the field of physics was invented and built by men.
Strumia made his comments during a workshop in Geneva on gender and high energy physics which was attended by a considerable number of young female physicists. On one occasion during the said speaking engagement, Strumia cited a study that claims “men prefer working with things and women prefer working with people” which allegedly suggests that there was a “difference even in children before any social influence.”
“We need to celebrate women physicists because we’re out there. I’m honored to be one of those women,” Strickland said during a video conference with media after the announcement. When asked to comment about Strumia’s remarks, Strickland just called them “silly.”
The award received by the three physicists is worth nine million Swedish kronor or $998,618 USD. Half of the prize will be shared by Strickland and Mourou, while the remaining half will go to Ashkin.