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The oldest person ever to be named a Nobel Prize winner

FormerWinter 2018-19

Arthur Ashkin in 1947. Photo courtesy of the Columbia University Archives.

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Arthur Ashkin ’47CC was not exactly slowed down by age. At 96, he just won the Nobel Prize in Physics, making him the oldest person ever to have been named a Nobel Prize winner - and he is still actively working.

I think I just made it, Ashkin told the Nobel Committee in October. 'Cause you can't win when you're dead

Ashkin won the award for his invention of optical tweezers, which uses laser pressure to manipulate particles, atoms, viruses and other living cells without damaging them. These tools have led to profound breakthroughs in medicine, such as the ability to separate healthy blood cells from infected ones.

Ashkin, who was a student at Columbia Radiation Lab, received his PhD from Cornell and spent most of his career at Bell Laboratories.

Although he hopes to travel to Stockholm to claim his award, he told the committee that he has no plans to spend much time partying. I'm working on something new and important - a paper on solar energy, Ashkin said. The world urgently needs science about climate change.

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