Nobel Prizes and Laureates

Nobel Prizes and Laureates

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2005
Roy J. Glauber, John L. Hall, Theodor W. Hänsch

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Interview with Theodor W. Hänsch

"I'm still up in the clouds; I haven't settled down yet"

Transcript of the telephone interview with Professor Theodor W. Hänsch after the announcement of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics, on 4 October 2005. Interviewer is Joanna Rose, science writer.

- Yes?

- Hello. My name's Joanna Rose. I am making a recording for which is the official Website of the Nobel Foundation.

- Ah, that sounds important. However, I'm just about to leave for the airport; my driver is waiting downstairs. So this is not the way just now... I'm going to Berkeley, California.

- But this is just like three minutes ...

- Okay, okay.

- I just want to congratulate you.

- Thank you very much.

- Did you expect it?

- Well, of course, one cannot expect something like that. I had a little spark of hope, I have to admit, though.

- Every year? Or this year?

- For a number of years.

- How many years?

- Oh ...! But no, of course, when the news comes, it's totally unexpected. And I'm still up in the clouds; I haven't settled down yet.

- You'll be in the plane ...

- Right, right!

- What does it mean to you, to get the Prize?

- Well, I mean, it's the ultimate recognition that scientists can hope to receive. It's recognition not just for my person, but, I think, for our entire team, for the organisations that have supported our work. And I think for Germany it is certainly a sign that, hopefully, will attract more young people into science, because for a while it looked like we were out of luck with modern Nobel Prizes. Of course, in the early days, Germany did pretty well.

- Yes. Do you think that the Prize is just a reward, or can you ...?

- Well, it depends on what one does with it. Certainly there will be more opportunities to give opinions outside my area of expertise. I will try to avoid that! And I will try to use it as a means to be able to continue our research, hopefully beyond my official retirement age in Germany.

- Is there any special field that you would like to ...?

- Well, for me, the field of light, of lasers, of atoms, molecules, has been an unending series of surprises, and I can't think of a better field. But I think we will, hopefully, find new things, in the future.

- How will you celebrate the Prize?

- Well, we've already celebrated in a rushed ceremony, because I have to leave for the airport and, as I said, the driver is waiting downstairs. So I am, just now, going on a trip to California. And maybe over there we will continue to celebrate in a circle of friends who are all gathering to honour Charlie Townes on his ninetieth birthday.

- Ah, I see. Thank you very much for this conversation.

- Okay. You're welcome.

- Hope to see you in Stockholm. Bye-bye.

- Bye-bye.


Listen to the Interview
3 min.


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MLA style: "Transcript of the telephone interview with Professor Theodor W. Hänsch after the announcement of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics". Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 18 Aug 2017. <>