Niels Bohr Medal awarded to Alain Aspect [fr]
On the occasion of the Niels Bohr atomic model centenary celebrations in Denmark on the 7th October 2013, the French science was honoured through a speech given by Serge Haroche, Nobel Prize in Physics in 2012, and the Niels Bohr Medal award to Alain Aspect by the Queen Margrethe.
Alain Aspect is a French physicist best known for having carried out the first successful experience of one of the fundamental paradoxes of quantum mechanics, the paradox of Einstein- Podolsky -Rosen. This paradox concerned the existence of entangled quantum states leading to a controversy between Einstein and Bohr, which lasted 20 years, until Einstein’s death.
This debate opposed Einstein’s view of a local deterministic quantum mechanics, in which a quantum physical state exists prior to any observation, which implied that the description of the reality of quantum mechanics was incomplete, with Bohr’s view that defended that quantum states do not exist until they have been measured. At that time, technology was not sufficiently developed to allow an experimental verification of this hypothesis. Therefore, this question remained a matter of personal view until Aspect’s experiment.
Aspect obtained the first unambiguous experimental proof of the nonexistence of the local hidden variables advocated by Einstein. In addition, the quantum non-locality was confirmed exactly as predicted by quantum mechanics theory.
Alain Aspect has previously received numerous awards such as the CNRS Gold Medal in 2005 , the Einstein Medal Einstein Company in 2012, the Wolf Prize in 2010 as well as the Ives medal / Quinn prize of the ’Optical Society of America in 2013.
Currently, his research focuses on atom optics and ultracold atoms in the Charles Fabry Laboratory, at the Institut d’Optique graduate school ParisTech at Palaiseau.