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American, Japanese Win Nobel Physics Prize

Two Japanese scientists and a Japanese-born American researcher have won this year's Nobel Prize for physics. Lisa Bryant reports from Paris the prize goes to their work on fundamental, subatomic particles.

The three scientists - Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa of Japan, and Yoichiro Nambu of the United States - will split the $1.4 million physics award for their discoveries in subatomic physics.

All three work in the field of particle physics - which is the focus of the Swiss-based Large Hadron Collider, the world's biggest particle smasher.

In announcing the Nobel, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the field of so-called broken symmetry researched by the two Japanese predicts three families of quarks - or elementary physical particles.

The academy also said the theories of U.S. researcher Nambu were widespread in the standard model of elementary particle physics. The theory of the 87-year-old professor, it said, unifies the smallest building blocks of matter and three out of nature's four forces.

Academy secretary Gunnar Oquist notified Japan's Kobayashi of his award in a phone call.

"Good morning Professor Kobayashi, sorry, good afternoon," Oquist said. "We have just announced to the world that you are the 2008 Nobel Laureate in Physics together with Professor Nambu and Professor Maskawa. Once again, warm congratulations and how do you feel about the prize?"

"It Is my great honor and I just feel I cannot believe this," Kobayashi said.

The physics award is the second announced by the Nobel committee this week. On Monday, French and German researchers earned the Medicine prize for their discoveries on the viruses behind AIDS and cervical cancer.

Other awards on this week's Nobel lineup include chemistry, literature and peace. The final Nobel, for economics, will be announced Monday.