Where would Google, Facebook, and Twitter be today without the inventions of Charles K. Kao, Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith? Non-existent. Likewise, Apple, IBM, and the hundreds of other companies that exploit the inventions of these men might not even be around. And then there are the many millions of people all over the world that are users of these technologies: we'd still be in the dark ages of communication.
Today, the Nobel Committee awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics to Chinese-born Charles K. Kao, "for groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers" and Canadian native Willard S. Boyle and an American, George E. Smith, "for the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit -- the CCD sensor."
It was 1966 when Charles Kao made a breakthrough discovery in fiber optics, calculating how to transmit light signals through optical glass over 100 kilometers, when previous attempts until that time had been sent only 20 meters. Pure optical fibers today make up the "circulatory system" of all of our networked communication from the Internet to the cell phone, providing support for all of the data and telephony that arrives in split seconds to destinations around the globe.
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The second part of the Nobel Prize in Physics went to Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith for their 1969 invention of the first digital imaging sensor, a Charge-Couple Device (CCD), which essentially became the digital camera's electronic eye. Using the photoelectric effect theorized by Albert Einstein (Nobel Prize 1921), Boyle and Smith transformed light into electrical signals that are read almost instantly as a large number of image points or pixels.
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The potential of fiber optics and CCD technologies have impacted not only communications, but education, medicine, entertainment, and exploration throughout our world and universe. (Nobel Prize, Science Daily)