Nobel Prize in physics comes down to Earth

Technology

20060528105901fibreopticNeutrinos … quarks … giant magnetoresistance. The Nobel Prize in physics is often awarded — rightfully so — for work that few of us can actually understand.

But this year is different. This year, three Americans are sharing the prize for their roles in creating things that most of us use every day without giving them a second thought: high-speed Internet and digital photography.

From The Associated Press:

Half the $1.4 million prize will go to Charles K. Kao, 75, for discovering how to transmit light signals long distance through hair-thin glass fibers. That led to fiber-optic communication networks that zip voice, video and high-speed Internet data worldwide in a split-second.

The other half will go to Willard S. Boyle, 85, and George E. Smith, 79, for opening the door to digital cameras by inventing a sensor that turns light into electrical signals.

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