Satyendra Nath Bose

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Nobel Prize in Physics

The first Nobel Prize in Physics in the 21st Century was awarded jointly to Professor Eric Cornell and Professor Carl Wieman of JILA and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Boulder,  Colorado, USA, and Professor Wolfgang Ketterle of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA (photo right from Denver Post)

for the achievement of Bose-Einstein condensation in dilute gases of alkali atoms, and for early fundamental studies of the properties of the condensates.

Information about the Prize is available on the Nobel website.


 Falguni Sarkar with Drs. Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman 11 July 2006. Photo by Larry Harwood, University of Colorado at Boulder

"A grandson of famed mathematician and scientist Satyendra Nath Bose, who prompted Albert Einstein's 1924 prediction of Bose-Einstein condensate, met with the Nobel Prize-winning physicists who created the condensate on July 11. Falguni Sarkar, 40, of San Francisco (center) met with Carl Wieman (right) and Eric Cornell (left) at JILA, a joint institute located on the CU Boulder campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Sarkar is writing about his grandfather. Wieman is a distinguished professor in the CU-Boulder department of physics and Cornell is a senior scientist at NIST and an adjunct professor of physics at CU Boulder. The two JILA fellows led a team of physicists that created the condensate, a new form of matter, at just billionths of a degree above absolute zero on June 5, 1995."

First Seen in 1995: "Holy Grail of (Atomic) Physics"

On a morning in July, 1995, the first page of the morning edition of  the The New York Times newspaper declared

2 Groups of Physicists Produce Matter that Einstein Postulated
By Malcolm W. Browne

By chilling a cloud of atoms to temperature barely above absolute zero, scientists at a Colorado laboratory have at last created a bizarre type of matter that had eluded experimenters ever since its potential existence was postulated by Albert Einstein 70 years ago.

The creation of this Bose-Einstein condensate, as it is called – named for Einstein and the Indian theorist Satyendra Nath Bose – was hailed yesterday as the basis of a new field of research expected to explain some fundamental mysteries of atomic physics.

The achievement should allow physicists to peer directly into the realm of the ultra small.

In a comment being published today by the journal Science, Dr. Keith Burnett, a physicist at Oxford University in England, said, “The term Holy Grail seems quite appropriate, given the singular importance of this discovery.”   

New York Times, July 14, 1995 p. 1


Nobel Prize in Physics 2001

A mere 6 years later, in 2001, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics to Cornell, Wieman, and Ketterle.

Below are some links to information about the Nobel Prize, mostly from the Nobel website. All linked content (video, etc.) are Copyright Nobel Web AB 2001 and are presented here as hyperlinks.

Nobel Prize Interview

Nobel Laureates in Physics interview with Drs. Cornell, Wieman and Ketterle with Joanna Rose, science writer on 12 December, 2001.

The Laureates talk about their memories of the day of the discovery, the importance of competition (5:51), the significance of producing the condensate (11:44), big issues in physics (15:01), receiving the Nobel Prize at an early age (21:49) and their future work (25:36).

Video of Interview (30 minutes)
(Note: you need Real Player to view)

Carl E. Wieman Nobel Lecture
Bose-Einstein Condensation in a Dilute Gas; The First 70 Years and Some Recent Experiments (8 December 2001)

Eric A. Cornell Nobel Lecture
Bose-Einstein Condensation in a Dilute Gas; The First 70 Years and Some Recent Experiments (8 December 2001)

Dr. Wolfgang Ketterle
When Atoms Behave as Waves: Bose-Einstein Condensation and the Atom Laser


Other Nobel Prizes in Physics awarded for work in the area of Bose Statistics

Nobel Prize in Physics 1996: A breakthrough in low temperature physics

Professor David M. Lee, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA,
Professor Douglas D. Osheroff, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA
Professor Robert C. Richardson, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA

for their discovery of superfluidity in helium-3.

The pioneering work of David Lee, Douglas Osheroff and Robert Richardson in the beginning of the 1970's at the low-temperature laboratory of Cornell University has given a most valuable contribution to our current view of the manifestations of quantum effects in bulk matter. The anisotropic superfluid helium-3, appearing below a critical temperature of about two thousandths of a degree above the absolute zero, is considered to be a particular kind of Bose-Einstein condensate with a rich set of physical properties. (from

Nobel Prize  in Physics 1997: Atoms floating in optical molasses

Professor Steven Chu, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA,
Professor Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, Collège de France and École Normale Supérieure, Paris, France, and
Dr. William D. Phillips, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA,

for development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.

Steven Chu, Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, and William D. Phillips have developed methods of using laser light to cool gases to the µK temperature range and keeping the chilled atoms floating or captured in different kinds of "atom traps". The laser light functions as a thick liquid, dubbed optical molasses, in which the atoms are slowed down. Individual atoms can be studied there with very great accuracy and their inner structure can be determined. As more and more atoms are captured in the same volume a thin gas forms, and its properties can be studied in detail. The new methods of investigation that the Nobel Laureates have developed have contributed greatly to increasing our knowledge of the interplay between radiation and matter. In particular, they have opened the way to a deeper understanding of the quantum-physical behaviour of gases at low temperatures...The technique rewarded this year also forms the basis for the discovery of Bose-Einstein condensation in atomic gases, a phenomenon that has attracted great interest. (from