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US, French scientists awarded Nobel Prize in physics (+video)

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The two researchers use opposite approaches to examine, control and count quantum particles, the academy said.

Wineland traps ions — electrically charged atoms — and measures them with light, while Haroche controls and measures photons, or light particles.

Haroche said he was out walking with his wife when he got the call from the Nobel judges.

"I was in the street and passing a bench so I was able to sit down," Haroche told a news conference in Stockholm by telephone. "It's very overwhelming."

He said his work in the realm of quantum physics could ultimately lead to unimaginably fast computers.

"You can do things which are prohibited by the laws of classical physics," he told The Associated Press.

Haroche also said quantum research could help make GPS navigating systems more accurate.

NIST spokesman Jim Burrus said Wineland was asleep at home in Boulder when the call came in early Tuesday notifying him that he won; his wife answered the phone.

Burrus said Wineland described the news as overwhelming and wonderful.

He described Wineland as a humble person who never expected to win prizes. He also doesn't take himself very seriously: Wineland once played first base on a NIST softball team called "Field of Dweebs."

Christopher Monroe, who does similar work at the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland, said the awarding of the prize to the two men "is not a big surprise to me ... It was sort of obvious that they were a package."

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