Physics Nobel for British scientists

LONDON/STOCKHOLM: British-born scientists David Thouless, Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz were

awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for studies on exotic matter that could result in improved materials for electronics or quantum computers.
The university of Cambridge alumni will share the 8m kronor (£727,000) prize for their pioneering work. Cambridge’s past Nobel laureates include two Indians: Amartya Sen (economics, 1998) and Subrahmanyam Chandrasekhar (physics, 1983).
Thouless (Trinity Hall college), Haldane (Christ’s college) and Kosterlitz (Gonville and Caius college) discovered unexpected behaviours of solid materials and devised a mathematical framework to explain their properties.
The academy cited the three for “theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter.”
Topology is a branch of mathematics that describes properties of objects.
Announcing the prize, the Nobel committee said: “This year’s Laureates opened the door on an unknown world where matter can assume strange states. They have used advanced mathematical methods to study unusual phases, or states, of matter, such as superconductors, superfluids or thin magnetic films.
“Thanks to their pioneering work, the hunt is now on for new and exotic phases of matter. Many people are hopeful of future applications in both materials science and electronics.”
The academy said the laureates’ work in the 1970s and 1980s opened the door to a previously unknown world where matter takes unusual states or phases.
“Their discoveries have brought about breakthroughs in the theoretical understanding of matter’s mysteries.”
Nobel judges often award discoveries made decades ago to make sure they withstand the test of time.
Thouless, 82, is a professor emeritus at the University of Washington. Haldane, 65, is a physics professor at Princeton University in New Jersey. Kosterlitz, 73, is a physics professor at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.
Speaking by a phone link to a news conference in Stockholm, Haldane said he was “very surprised and very gratified” by the award, adding the laureates stumbled onto the discoveries.