Even with the Nobel Prize, Anton Zeilinger does not lose sight of the essence and motivates other researchers.
As a child, he took apart his sister’s dolls. A physics teacher inspired him for the subject. Hundreds of experiments failed. Then came the breakthrough in quantum physics. Yesterday was the pinnacle of his career: Anton Zeilinger was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics together with Alain Aspect and John Clauser.
Year after year, on December 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death, Stockholm becomes the center of the brightest minds. In the concert hall, the Swedish king Carl XVI. Gustaf presented the prize winners with their certificates and well-deserved gold medals. Anton Zeilinger already knows the procedure. “I was here in 1994 when my colleague Clifford Shull received the Nobel Prize,” the 77-year-old explains as if it were the most normal thing in the world.
The researcher also did not mind wearing a tail during the ceremony and subsequent banquet. “I like going to balls,” reveals the University of Vienna professor. However, the Viennese cannot dance there with the Nobel Prize medal. She is not an order.
Whether tactfulness was decisive for his success cannot be measured scientifically. But the professor knows one thing: “I was lucky enough to be able to do research out of curiosity. My experiments needed no applicability.” That is why his thanks also go to the taxpayers who fund his science.
Advice to scientists: never give up
He advises students and researchers to never give up when they are passionate about a subject. “Accept setbacks. They can provide clues as to how things can proceed.’ The physicist probably refers to the American scientist Thomas Edison (1847-1931). For years he was looking for the right material for a light bulb. “I didn’t fail. I just found 10,000 ways it doesn’t work,” he said. In 1880, the engineer patented the carbon filament for the light bulb. So it pays to keep going.
Professor Zeilinger will also continue. When he returns to Vienna, he will continue his research into quantum physics. Maybe the 77-year-old will get a second Nobel Prize soon, who knows.
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