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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 Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.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 National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2019, its budget is $8.1 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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