Seventy years after Albert Einstein built upon the work of Indian physicist S.N. Bose and predicted that gaseous atoms cooled to extreme temperatures would abruptly gather in the lowest possible energy state, physicists finally observed the phenomenon. The discovery and subsequent investigation of this new state of matter—termed the Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC)—has earned Eric A. Cornell, Wolfgang Ketterle and Carl. E. Wieman this year's Nobel Prize in Physics.
According to the Nobel committee, the three scientists "have caused atoms to sing in unison" because atoms in a BEC are all at the same energy and oscillate together, essentially acting as a primitive laser beam comprised of matter instead of light. The 10,000,000 Swedish Crown prize (about $950,000) is shared among the three scientists and will be presented at a ceremony on December 10th.