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Press Statement 03-003

Statement by Dr. Rita R. Colwell, Director, National Science Foundation, On Award of the Nobel Prize in Physics

October 7, 2003

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

I congratulate Professor Anthony Leggett of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, on receiving the 2003 Nobel Prize in physics for his groundbreaking work in explaining the behavior of atoms in superfluids. The National Science Foundation is proud to have supported his research over the past 20 years.

Leggett succeeded in formulating a theory to explain the complex superfluid behavior in the rare form of helium. And as is so often the case with fundamental scientific and engineering research, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences noted that the theory for this quantum phenomenon has also been able to shed light in other areas, including particle physics, cosmology and the study of turbulence.

Over the years, NSF has supported more than 40 Nobel Laureates in physics, and their discoveries in areas ranging from quantum fluids to X-ray astronomy have contributed to scientific advances that remind us how basic research leads to practical applications.


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The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2020 budget of $8.3 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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