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3 Quantum Physicists Awarded Nobel Prize - 2003-10-07

Three quantum physicists have been awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physics for what the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences calls their pioneering contributions to the theory of superconductors and superfluids.

The joint winners of the award are Alexei Abrikosov, a citizen of both Russia and the United States now at the Argonne National Laboratory in the Illinois; Vitaly Ginzburg, a Russian who once headed the Theory Group at the P.N. Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow; and Anthony Leggett, a citizen of Britain and the United States who teaches at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.

The three men were cited by the Swedish Academy for improving knowledge about two fields of quantum physics: superconductivity and superfluidity.

Superconducting material, said the academy, is used, for example, in magnetic resonance imaging for medical examinations and particle accelerators in physics. Knowledge about superfluid liquids, it says in its citation, can give us deeper insight into the ways matter behaves in its lowest and most ordered state.

The 75-year-old Mr. Abrikosov was cited for developing a theory in the 1950s explaining how superconductivity and magnetism co-exist. His starting point was a theory formulated earlier by Mr. Ginzburg, who is now 87.

Both theories, said the academy, contributed to the development of materials that can be made superconductive at increasingly high temperatures and strong magnetic fields.

Mr. Leggett, who is 65, was cited for formulating a theory that explains how liquid helium can become superfluid.

The three scientists will share a $1.3 million prize.

The Nobel prizes for chemistry and economics will be announced from Sweden on Wednesday. On Friday, the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize will be announced in Oslo, Norway.

Last week, South African writer J.M. Coetzee won this year's Nobel Prize for literature. And on Monday, Paul Lauterbur of the United States and Peter Mansfield of Britain were jointly awarded the prize for medicine.