The Big Picture

A Nobel in New Jersey

Arthur Ashkin ’47 won the Nobel Prize in Physics on October 2 for groundbreaking research in laser physics. His invention of optical tweezers enabled scientists to take hold of “particles, atoms, viruses and other living cells with their laser beam fingers,” creating new ways to observe and control the machinery of life, said the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

At 96, Ashkin is the oldest person ever named a Nobel laureate. He shared the prize with two other scientists who were honored for separate work in the field. Ashkin, meanwhile, continues to work from his home in Rumson, N.J. “That’s my hobby, more or less,” he told the Nobel website. “I was interested in science since I was a kid, so I tell my wife that’s the only thing that I’m really good at.”