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March 24th, 2022 - Senators' Statements - Paul Corkum, O.C., O.Ont.

Paul Corkum, O.C., O.Ont.

Hon. Rose-May Poirier: Honourable senators, I rise here today to pay tribute to an exceptional New Brunswicker, physicist Paul Corkum. Professor Corkum, a Saint John native, is the 2022 co-winner of the prestigious Wolf Prize in Physics, joining the ranks of such laureates as the late Stephen Hawking. The University of Ottawa professor shared the prize with two fellow physicists from Europe.

Upon receiving the phone call, Professor Corkum did not recognize the number. In a time where we are always double‑checking the caller ID before we answer, Professor Corkum thought it was a telemarketer and nearly hung up. Thankfully, he took the call to receive the prestigious award.

The Wolf Prize is awarded to outstanding scientists and artists from around the world for achievements in the interests of mankind and friendly relations among people. In the fields of physics and chemistry, the award is often considered second to the Nobel Prize. Between 1978 and 2010, 14 of the 26 Wolf Prize laureates were awarded the Nobel Prize shortly after.

Furthermore, 2022 marks the third year in the last five years when a Canadian has been a co-winner. Professor Corkum joins Gilles Brassard, who won in 2018 with an American colleague, and Allan H. MacDonald, who won in 2020 with Spanish and Israeli colleagues.

Professor Paul Corkum has gathered a long list of awards at home and abroad for his groundbreaking achievements, including a Royal Medal from the Royal Society, the Isaac Newton Medal and Prize from the United Kingdom’s Institute of Physics, the Lomonosov Gold Medal of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Harvey Prize from the Israel Institute of Technology, the King Faisal Prize for Science and the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering. Professor Corkum is being honoured for his pioneering role in the development of attosecond science: one billionth of one billionth of a second.

Honourable senators, I will not go into the specifics of his research, since the details are well beyond my comprehension of physics. What I do want to point out is that, although we’ve been going through a pandemic the past two years, there have been other positive news and developments in the world. The COVID pandemic overshadowed a lot of what has happened these last two years, but the world kept turning. Discoveries and achievements, such as the ones made by Professor Corkum and his colleagues, illustrate that well.

Honourable senators, join me in congratulating Professor Paul Corkum for his long list of achievements and advancements in the field of physics, and for making New Brunswick and Canada proud on the international level. Thank you.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

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