1997 Nobel Prize Winner in Physics

1997 Nobel Prize Winner in Physics

Dr. William Phillips

3.5.2008

Dr. William Phillips

Dr. William Phillips is the 1997 Nobel Prize winner in Physics for development of methods to cool
and trap atoms with laser light. Phillips earned his doctorate at the National Institute for
Standards and Technology in 1976, where his thesis centered on laser coin atoms trapping
protons. Today, Phillip works for the U.S. government, the National Institute for Standards and
Technology and receives support from the Department of Congress, the Office of Naval

Research, Disruptive Technology Office, NASA, and works in a partnership with the University of
Maryland.

Nobel Prize winner Dr. William Phillips conducts live experiments and discusses how scientific research serves the public good. Phillip talks about things that relate to the measurement of time. He further explains how well one can measure time from a basic quartz watch to a precise atomic clock. In the discussion, Phillips defends the use of taxpayer dollars to research time, pointing out that extreme levels of accuracy are required as our modern technological lives depend on it. Scientific research demands very accurate time keeping, as does national security, he says. Phillips conducts live experiments demonstrating how cold liquid nitrogen is compared to a bouncy ball, balloons, a rubber band and the floor. He also discusses how to use light to push on atoms in such a way to slow them down in an effort to make clocks to become more accurate.