Three physicists applied topology to quantum properties of materials in extreme conditions
From left: ©Trinity Hall, Cambridge, Photographer Kiloton Howard; Denise Applewhite/Office of Communications/Princeton University; Johanna Lassy/Aalto University
Bagels and pretzels have a lot in common with the physics of certain materials: The snacks illustrated the mathematics behind theoretical descriptions of exotic states of matter, work which won the 2016 Nobel Prize in physics on October 4. David Thouless of the University of Washington in Seattle, J. Michael Kosterlitz of Brown University and Duncan Haldane of Princeton University received the prize for their research, which predicted new types of materials and spurred interest in the field of topological materials.
Many physicists were surprised by the selection; speculation online predicted that the prize would be awarded for the first detection of gravitational waves (SN: 3/5/16, p. 6), announced on February 11. But the deadline for nominations fell before that date — and researchers typically wait decades for a Nobel nod.