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October 05, 2005 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-10-05

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NEWS

The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 5, 2005 - 5

*Americans
* capture
Physics
Nobel
(AP) - Two Americans and a German won the
Nobel Prize in physics yesterday for optics research that
is improving the accuracy of such precision instruments
as GPS locators, atomic clocks and navigation systems.
Americans John Hall and Roy Glauber shared
the prize with Theodor Haensch of Germany. Glau-
ber, 80, of Harvard University, took half of the $1.3
million award for showing how the quantum nature
of light can affect its behavior. His insights led to
the work of Hall, 71, a professor at the University of
Colorado, and Haensch, 63, of the Ludwig-Maxi-
milian-Universitaet in Munich. Hall and Haensch
will share the other half of the prize.
Glauber thought it was a joke when the phone
jolted him awake early yesterday and a man with
a Swedish accent told he had won the Nobel Prize.
He recognized the voice as a scientist he knows and
thought it was a prank.
"I could scarcely believe him," he said. "But
there was something very persuasive about that
hour of the morning."
Until Glauber published his theories in 1963,
scientists dismissed the idea that quantum theory,
which was developed to describe the behavior of
particles, had any application to light. But Glau-
ber showed that certain types of light - includ-
ing lasers - could only be fully understood using
quantum methods, which treat light as individual
packets of energy rather than continuous waves.
"His results are fundamental for our modern
understanding of the behavior of light," said Sune
Svanberg, chairman of the Nobel Committee for
Physics.
Researchers have used Glauber's insights to cre-
ate exotic lasers and devices that hold tiny samples
in place with the pressure of photons. More recent-
ly, the possibility has arisen of building comput-

NASA

workers

blamed for foam

Roy Jay Glauber, a Mallinckrodt professor of physics at Harvard University, shares the 2005 Nobel
Prize in Physics with John Hall and German Theodor Haensch for their work in applying modern
quantum physics to the study of optics.

mishap
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP)
- Workers may have accidentally cut or
crushed the section of foam that broke off
Discovery's fuel tank during its launch two
months ago - a mishap that threatened
the safety of the astronauts and grounded
the shuttle fleet.
That is the leading theory for the
cause behind the disturbing loss of foam
insulation that cast a cloud over NASA's
return to space, said Wayne Hale, the
newly appointed manager of the space
shuttle program.
In a wide-ranging interview with The
Associated Press yesterday, Hale said the
shuttle will not fly again until the foam
insulation problem is resolved - no soon-
er than spring.
He also said repair work has been set
back because of hurricanes Katrina and
Rita. The storms dealt "a severe blow" to
resuming shuttle flights and caused NASA
to lose three months of work, he said.
In a memo soon after Katrina
slammed two shuttle facilities on the
Gulf Coast, Hale speculated that the
space shuttles might be grounded until
fall 2006. He has since backed off that
pessimistic view and noted that prog-
ress has been made in understanding the
foam problem and getting the Michoud
Assembly Facility in New Orleans -
which manufactures the tanks - back
into limited operation.
"We're working a spring kind of
launch date, but we haven't established
one," he said. May is the earliest, most
likely target.
To NASA's horror, a 1-pound, 3-foot
chunk of insulating foam peeled away

n shuttle
from Discovery's external fuel tank dur-
ing liftoff in late July. It was the same
kind of problem that doomed Columbia
in 2003, and occurred despite 2 1/2 years
of improvements and assurances that this
was the safest tank ever built.
What probably happened is that dur-
ing modifications to the tank at Michoud,
technicians inadvertently damaged the
section that ended up coming off, while
working on nearby areas, Hale said. "This
foam, which normally is not touched after
it's applied, clearly was touched," he said.
Workers using plastic knives to remove
nearby foam may have made small cuts in
the section that tore away, allowing air to
condense in the crevices against the tank,
full of super-cold fuel, Hale said. Another
possibility, he said, is that workers leaned
against the piece of foam that broke off,
and fractured it. Yet another theory is that
the foam cracked because of normal ther-
mal stresses.
A spokesman for Lockheed Martin
Corp., which builds the tanks at Michoud,
said inadvertent worker damage is one of
the potential causes being investigated.
"We're committed to supporting NASA
and the space shuttle program," spokes-
man Harry Wadsworth said.
Engineers have more work to do before
confirming any of this, the shuttle manag-
er said. A fuel tank that finally arrived at
Michoud this week from Cape Canaveral
- a trip delayed by the hurricanes - will
be dissected for evidence of damage.
The earliest that a modified tank could
be returned to Cape Canaveral is Febru-
ary, making a spring launch a possibility,
Hale said.

ers that use light, rather than electricity, to do their
calculations.
Hall and Haensch built on Glauber's discovery
by developing a means of measuring the frequency
of a laser beam to a precision of one part in a thou-
sand-trillion.
With that ability, scientists can build optical
clocks that keep time more accurately than exist-
ing atomic devices. They can also improve the
precision of distance measurements accordingly.
"This in turn will allow better GPS systems,
better space navigation and improved control of
astronomical telescope arrays," the Royal Swedish
Academy of Sciences noted in awarding the prize.
The research could also be useful in creating
better digital animation.
"Eventually, we may be able to enjoy three-
dimensional holographic movies," Haensch said.
Borje Johansson, a member of the Royal Swedish
Academy of Sciences, called the academy's choice

"a typical physics prize."
"First someone breaks down a barrier, and then
things happen," Johansson said. "The common
man can have great use of this."
Sensitive quantum optics measurement tech-
niques also offer opportunities to learn more
physics, said Marlan Scully, a professor at Texas
A&M University. They can be used to deter-
mine whether physical constants are truly fixed,
or change ever so slightly over time. Quantum
optics can also be used to detect gravitational
waves, ripples in space that are predicted by Ein-
stein's general theory of relativity but have never
been observed.
"By making more precise measurements we
are able to confront ever more subtle questions,"
Scully said.
None of the three scientists said they expected to
win a Nobel.
"It's a huge surprise, a great pleasure," Hall said.

Redesigned nickel will feature forward-looking Jefferson

WASHINGTON (AP) - After nearly 100
years of depicting presidents in somber pro-
files on the nation's coins, the Mint is trying
something different: The new nickel features
Thomas Jefferson, facing forward, with the
hint of a smile.
"It isn't a silly smile or a smirk, but a
sense of optimism that I was trying to con-
vey with the expression," says Jamie Franki,
an associate professor of art at the Univer-
sity of North Carolina-Charlotte. His draw-
ing was chosen out of 147 entries.

In unveiling the design yesterday, Mint
officials said they believed the new image
of Jefferson was an appropriate way to com-
memorate his support for expanding the
country through the Louisiana Purchase
and sending Meriwether Lewis and William
Clark to explore the territory in 1804-05.
"The image of a forward-looking Jefferson
is a fitting tribute to that vision," said David
Lebryk, the acting director of the Mint.
For the past two years, the Mint has
changed the design of the nickel every six

months to commemorate the 200th anni-
versary of the Louisiana Purchase and the
Lewis and Clark expedition, both of which
occurred during Jefferson's administration.
The new five-cent coin, which will go into
circulation early next year, is the last sched-
uled change in the nickel's appearance. It
will feature Jefferson's Monticello home on
the reverse side of the coin but in an updated
image from the Monticello that first began
appearing on the nickel in 1938.
The image of Jefferson will be accompanied.

by the word "Liberty" in Jefferson's own hand-
writing, a detail that was introduced last year in
the Westward Journey series of nickels.
Since Abraham Lincoln became the first
president to be depicted on a circulating coin,
in 1909, presidents have always been shown in
profile, in part because profile designs remain
recognizable even after extensive wear on
the coin. The Mint, however, believes it has
produced an image of J-efferson for the new
nickel that can stand up to heavy use.
For next year, between 1.4 billion and 1.8

billion of the new nickels are expected to
go into circulation. The coins will be called
the Jefferson 1800 because Franki's image
of Jefferson is based on a Rembrandt Peale
portrait of Jefferson done in 1800, the year
Jefferson was first elected president.
Jefferson will be the first but perhaps not
the last president to go from profile to fron-
tal view on U.S. coins. Congress is consid-
ering whether to direct the Mint to redesign
the penny for 2009, the 200th anniversary of
Lincoln's birth.

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