Ashkin

Ashkin

The most recent winner of the Nobel Prize for physics will be speaking in Aspen next week.

Arthur Ashkin, a former Bell Laboratories researcher, will be speaking at the Wheeler Opera House on Jan. 9. According to a press release, Ashkin, 96, is the oldest recipient to ever win a Nobel Prize. He was awarded the 2018 prize for his invention of optical tweezers and their application to biological systems.

According to the Nobel Prize website, Ashkin’s invention “revolutionized laser physics.” Optical tweezers use beams of light to hold and manipulate small objects, such as biological molecules or cells. They can also be used to take measurements of extremely small forces exerted on the objects.

“Ashkin’s invention … was fundamental to the establishment of the modern field of single molecule biophysics, which is the topic of our winter conference,” Steven M. Block, a professor at Stanford, wrote in the announcement sent to the media. “My own research in biophysics makes extensive use of optical tweezers to measure the properties of individual biomolecules, such as proteins and nucleic acids.”

Ashkin is currently undergoing radiation treatment for a lymphoma, which prevents him from attending the Nobel ceremonies in December. So, he is sending a colleague to Stockholm and will be giving his Nobel Lecture in Aspen instead. According to the release, Ashkin will be giving the same talk that he is preparing with his colleague for the Nobel ceremonies and it is the first time that a Nobel Lecture will have been given in Aspen.

“The 2018 Nobel Lecture in Physics: Optical Tweezers and their Biological Applications” is part of the Wheeler’s Physics Café and public lecture, and is presented by Aspen Center for Physics and Aspen Science Center. The café begins at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 9 and the Lecture begins at 5:30. The event is free. For more information, visit https://www.wheeleroperahouse.com/event/physics-cafe-public-lecture/.