October 20, 2016 Comments (0) Views: 3801 Mathematics, Physics, Totally Rad

What Does it Take to Win the Nobel Prize in Physics?

A lot of attention has been paid to this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Bob Dylan. Much discussion has been had in the aftermath of this decision–Does he deserve it? To what extent can we consider lyricists as poets?

Unfortunately, a lot less attention has been given to the recent Nobel Prize in Physics win of Michael Kosterlitz, David Thouless, and Duncan Haldane for their “theoretical discovery of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter.” Granted, this is probably just because the content of their work seems inaccessible (and not conducive to a thirty second soundbite). Maybe they have a point; after all, how is the average person supposed to interpret that dense phrase?

Thankfully, we can reference mathematician John Carloz Baez’s break down of the Kosterlitz-Thouless Transtition on his blog.  Baez makes this Nobel Prize worthy work as accessible as any Dylan lyric. It’s a really short read and contains a horde of great vector images. Now, next time somebody brings up this year’s controversial Nobel Prize pick, you can redirect them to a happy discussion about vortex-antivortex pairs.

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