3 physicists share Nobel Prize for work on quantum science
STOCKHOLM (AP) — Three scientists jointly won this year’s Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for their work on quantum information science that has significant applications, for example in the field of encryption.
Frenchman Alain Aspect, American John F. Clauser and Austrian Anton Zeilinger were cited by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for discovering the way that unseen particles, such as photons or tiny bits of matter, can be linked, or “entangled,” with each other even when they are separated by large distances.
“Being a little bit entangled is sort of like being a little bit pregnant. The effect grows on you,” Clauser said in a Tuesday morning phone interview with The Associated Press.
It all goes back to a feature of the universe that even baffled Albert Einstein and connects matter and light in a tangled, chaotic way.
Clauser, 79, was awarded his prize for a 1972 experiment that helped settle a famous debate about quantum mechanics between Einstein and famed physicist Niels Bohr. Einstein described “a spooky action at a distance” that he thought would eventually be disproved.
“I was betting on Einstein,” Clauser said. “But unfortunately I was wrong and Einstein was wrong and Bohr was right.”
Clauser said his work on quantum mechanics shows that you can’t confine information to a closed volume, “like a little box that sits on your desk” — though even he can’t say why.
“Most people would assume that nature is made out of stuff distributed throughout space and time,” Clauser said. “And that appears not to be the case.”
Quantum entanglement “has to do with taking these two photons and then measuring one over here and knowing immediately something about the other one over here,” said David Haviland, chair of the Nobel Committee for Physics. “And if we have this property of entanglement between the two photons, we can establish a common information between two different observers of these quantum objects. And this allows us to do things like secret communication, in ways which weren’t possible to do before.”
That’s why quantum information is not an esoteric thought experiment, said Eva Olsson, a member of the Nobel committee. She called it a “vibrant and developing field.”
“It has broad and potential implications in areas such as secure information transfer, quantum computing and sensing technology,” Olsson said. “Its predictions have opened doors to another world, and it has also shaken the very foundations of how we interpret measurements.”
Everything in the universe could be entangled but “usually the entanglement just kind of washes off. It’s so chaotic and random that when you look at it … we don’t see anything,” said Harvard professor Subir Sachdev, who has worked on experiments that look at quantum entangled material consisting of up to 200 atoms. But sometimes scientists can unsnarl just enough to make sense and be useful in everything from encryption to superconductors, he said.
Speaking by phone to a news conference after the announcement, Zeilinger said he was “still kind of shocked” at hearing he had received the award.
“But it’s a very positive shock,” said Zeilinger, 77, who is based at the University of Vienna.
Clauser, Aspect, and Zeilinger have figured in Nobel speculation for more than a decade. In 2010 they won the Wolf Prize in Israel, seen as a possible precursor to the Nobel.
While physicists often tackle problems that appear at first glance to be far removed from everyday concerns — tiny particles and the vast mysteries of space and time — their research provides the foundations for many practical applications of science.
The Nobel committee said Clauser developed quantum theories first put forward in the 1960s into a practical experiment. Aspect, 75, was able to close a loophole in those theories, while Zeilinger demonstrated a phenomenon called quantum teleportation that effectively allows information to be transmitted over distances.
“Using entanglement you can transfer all the information which is carried by an object over to some other place where the object is, so to speak, reconstituted,” said Zeilinger. He added that this only works for tiny particles.
“It is not like in the Star Trek films (where one is) transporting something, certainly not the person, over some distance,” he said.
When he began his research, Zeilinger said the experiments were “completely philosophical without any possible use or application.”
Since then, the laureates’ work has been used to develop the fields of quantum computers, quantum networks and secure quantum encrypted communication.
A week of Nobel Prize announcements kicked off Monday with Swedish scientist Svante Paabo receiving the award in medicine Monday for unlocking secrets of Neanderthal DNA that provided key insights into our immune system.
They continue with chemistry on Wednesday and literature on Thursday. The 2022 Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on Friday and the economics award on Oct. 10.
The prizes carry a cash award of 10 million Swedish kronor (nearly $900,000) and will be handed out on Dec. 10. The money comes from a bequest left by the prize’s creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, who died in 1895.
Jordans reported from Berlin. Seth Borenstein contributed from Kensington, Maryland, and Maddie Burakoff contributed from New York.
Follow all AP stories about the Nobel Prizes at https://apnews.com/hub/nobel-prizes
David Keyton And Frank Jordans, The Associated Press
Trudeau, Biden agree to end ‘loophole’ in Safe Third Country Agreement: sources
A family of asylum seekers from Colombia is met by RCMP officers after crossing the border at Roxham Road into Canada Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, in Champlain, New York. Canada and the United States are on the cusp of agreeing to designate all 8,900 km of their shared border as an official crossing under the Safe Third Country Agreement.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
By Mia Rabson and Laura Osman in Ottawa
Canada and the United States have agreed to have asylum seekers turned back at irregular border crossings across the border, including Roxham Road in Quebec.
The U.S. will agree to extend a bilateral treaty known as the Safe Third Country Agreement to apply along the 8,900 kilometres of the shared border, according to an official with the administration of President Joe Biden, who arrived in Ottawa Thursday evening.
In exchange, Canada will agree to welcome an additional 15,000 migrants from across the Western Hemisphere over the next year on a humanitarian basis, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
A Canadian government official with knowledge of the talks, granted anonymity to discuss matters not yet made public, also said Thursday that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Biden would discuss the issue during a bilateral meeting Friday.
The official said details were still being negotiated, but the leaders agreed in principle.
The agreement follows talks between Trudeau and Biden at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles last June, a migration-heavy meeting where Canada agreed to admit just 4,000 more migrants by 2028.
Such a deal would not physically close off the Roxham Road unofficial crossing in Quebec, where thousands of migrants have entered Canada so they can make an asylum claim.
But it would effectively end its time as a viable route to Canada, as migrants who continue to cross there, or at any other unofficial crossing, would be treated as if they crossed at an official border checkpoint and be returned to the United States to make an asylum claim there.
Those travelling into the U.S. from Canada at unofficial crossings would likewise be returned north of the border by American authorities.
Under the Safe Third Country Agreement, first signed between the U.S. and Canada in 2004, asylum seekers must make their claim in whichever country they arrive first. That currently applies only to official border crossings.
But increasing numbers of migrants are opting to get around that rule by crossing at unofficial locations, such as Roxham Road, 50 kilometres south of Montreal. Taking this route means they can stay in Canada while waiting for a hearing, or for their case to be decided.
Last year, 39,000 people claimed asylum after crossing the unofficial border point into Quebec.
A lawyer for Amnesty International called the move to expand the provisions of the agreement “unconscionable,” from a human rights perspective.
“It’ll just push people to more remote areas, more dangerous crossings,” said Julia Sande, a lawyer for the organization.
“If they’re not going to be offered protection in the United States, they’ll do what they need to do to get here, and that will just push people into dangerous situations.”
The organization is one of three that are challenging the constitutionality of the Safe Third Country Agreement in the Supreme Court, arguing that the United States can’t be counted on to carry out Canada’s obligations to refugees under international law.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Niagara Falls, Ont., expressed relief that Canada and the U.S. appear to have made a tentative decision on the border crossing.
The federal government began transferring asylum claimants to various cities in Ontario, including Niagara Falls, after the Quebec government voiced concerns the migrants were placing pressure on publicly funded services.
Mayor Jim Diodati said 2,000 hotel rooms have been booked by the federal government for the asylum seekers and he found out Thursday that 500 more rooms were reserved for another group arriving on buses from the country road.
“That’s a lot of people in our community, considering (the) population is about 95,000 people,” he said in a phone interview. “That’s a huge, immediate impact to our community.”
The federal immigration minister’s office would not comment on the details and status of the Canada-U.S. negotiations on Thursday.
At a press conference Wednesday, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser would only say his department was working on a solution that would go beyond the politics of the president’s visit and “provide an actual lasting solution” to irregular border crossings.
Fraser said there has been no need for “horse trading” in the negotiations with the U.S. on the issue.
“This is something that both Canada and the United States believe in, is having an orderly policy at all of our borders, but also welcoming immigration policies for those who are fleeing violence, war, or persecution,” he said.
There are larger-scale issues that must also be addressed, he said, including capacity to address the root causes of migration from countries people are fleeing from in the first place.
Biden arrived in Canada Thursday night for a 27-hour state visit, his first formal trip to Canada since being sworn in as the U.S. president in January 2021. Trudeau and Biden are to meet for a formal bilateral discussion in Trudeau’s Parliament Hill office Friday morning.
Canada and the United States have been discussing how to improve the Safe Third Country Agreement for nearly five years.
In Canada, there are political divisions about what to do, with Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre calling for Canada to just “close” Roxham Road.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, for his part, wants the Safe Third Country Agreement suspended, allowing any migrant to make a claim in Canada regardless of how they get here.
“We believe that would give dignity to people that are already fleeing serious threats to their lives,” Singh told reporters Thursday, though he said he’s open to other solutions.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2023.
— With files from Fakiha Baig in Toronto and James McCarten in Washington.
Premier Smith urges PM Trudeau to talk Ethical Energy Security in meeting with US President Biden
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau:
The arrival of President Joe Biden presents our nation with an opportunity of great significance. It is my request that the federal government uses its platform to focus on collaboration between the U.S. and Canada, highlighting the critical need for North American energy security.
We have a deep, long-standing relationship with the U.S. at both the federal and state levels, which is only growing in importance. In 2022, Alberta surpassed Ontario and Quebec as the largest provincial exporter of goods to the U.S. at $182.5 billion, with energy making up 85 per cent of exports to the United States. Alberta, by far, remains the single largest source of U.S. energy imports.
This economic reality, along with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has highlighted that North American energy security must be a top priority for the Government of Canada. I urge you to raise the need for better collaboration between Canada and the U.S. to ensure the continued and enhanced supply of sustainable, affordable, and reliable energy to the U.S.
I recommend that the two governments work to fast-track energy projects in the name of economic security for our democratic partners, as committed to by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. A similar effort is needed in critical minerals as the world shifts to lower emitting sources of energy.
Alberta, through both government policy and industry action, is leading the way on reducing emissions and driving the transition to new sources of energy. New investments in the province are global flagships in clean energy and emissions reductions technology. For example, Pennsylvania’s Air Products will create a world-scale net-zero hydrogen energy complex in Alberta, and Dow is advancing the world’s first net-zero carbon emission integrated polyethylene complex at its existing site near Edmonton. It is also worth noting that Canada’s oil sands operators have announced plans to spend $24 billion on emission-reduction projects by 2030 as part of their commitment to reach net zero by 2050. All of this amounts to a herculean effort undertaken by industry partners, and Alberta’s government, to position ourselves as the foremost leader in emissions reduction and responsible energy production.
As you know, management of oil and gas methane emissions is one of this country’s greatest climate success stories. Collaboration with the U.S. on methane emissions would both advance climate action, and address regulatory inconsistencies between the two countries. As of 2020, methane emissions from the upstream oil and gas sector in Western Canada have decreased by around 44 per cent from the 2014 baseline – ahead of our schedule of 45 percent by 2025. More evidence of Canada, and Alberta, leading the way.
Alberta is home to vast geological potential, an experienced, skilled, workforce, and has the necessary processing and transportation infrastructure in place to support a growing critical minerals sector. For example, technological advances to extract minerals from underground brine solutions are found throughout Alberta. These extraction technologies could result in a low emission, sustainable source of lithium to meet the demand of our emerging battery value-chain. We would encourage your government to work with the provinces, especially Alberta, on critical minerals and seize the opportunity to collaborate with the U.S. on enhancing North American supply chains.
As the owners and stewards of our world-class natural resources, any discussions involving energy security, natural resources, and trade must fully involve the provinces. I would be pleased to help assist you, and the federal government in advancing the work on North American energy security as well as developing the business cases to increase exports of clean Alberta energy, critical minerals and technologies to the U.S. As is only appropriate when discussing natural resources, and areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction, I would also request that Premiers be invited to participate in a meeting with the President and his delegation.
I look forward to your response and welcome an opportunity to collaborate. We both agree that the world needs more Canada. It’s imperative that in a time of such uncertainty, and unaffordability, that Alberta, and Canada profile ourselves as the preferred supplier of responsibly produced, ethical energy to the U.S., North America, and the world.
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