Mental Floss

Understanding the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics (With a Cat)

Chris Higgins

Serge Haroche and David Wineland were awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday. They share the prize for independently developing methods to study particles of light...without destroying that light, which is usually what happens when it is observed. (For the record, other particles are relevant as well, but let's just keep it simple and suggest that we're talking about photons.) Their invention is clever and interesting, but can be hard to grok for the non-scientist. The discussion involves uncertainty, superposition, various other elements of quantum mechanics, and of course at times it brushes up against Schrödinger's cat. (Or does it?!) Anyway, in this Minute Physics video, we get a simplified explanation of what the big deal is. And yes, a cat is involved. Get your science hat on:

Wait, what's that? You haven't heard of Schrödinger's cat and/or forgot the details? Here's a very short explanation to bring it all back: