With The Nobel Prize
catching up with Wolfgang
December Issue 1
2001 Nobel Laureate, Physics
RLE: What is your earliest memory
Ketterle: I recall growing
seeds in high school biology, and early experiments with motors
and electrical circuits.
It has been one year since you won the Nobel Prize in Physics.
What is the most significant difference that the Prize has made
in the way that you conduct your scientific research?
Ketterle: My way of doing
research has not fundamentally changed, except that I now have less
time to do it. I often try to learn things directly from my collaborators
these days rather than read papers myself.
RLE: What are the primary scientific
investigations of your research group at the current time?
Ketterle: All my four labs
in RLE are studying aspects of ultracold gases. One is exploring
ultracold fermions, one is pursuing condensed matter physics and
many-body physics with Bose-Einstein condensates, and the remaining
two labs transport condensates with optical tweezers and load them
close to surfaces and on atom chips.
RLE: The achievement of Bose-Einstein
condensation (BEC) by your colleagues and you in 1995 unlocked a
wide variety of new opportunities in physics to investigate phenomena
beyond previous experimental reach. What do you see as the most
important conceptual problem in physics today for which similar
experimental breakthrough would yield equal or greater opportunities?
Ketterle: Areas like cosmology
and particle physics eagerly wait for new experimental results to
constrain models.ò However, in our case, nobody expected that BECs
would be connected to such rich physics - so it was like a solution
looking for a problem. Fortunately, as it turned out, there were