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Featured News The 2016 Nobel prize in physics

  1. Oct 4, 2016 #1

    Orodruin

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    The Nobel prize in physics is being announced in 4 minutes. Apparently they will be on time this year according to the webcast at: http://www.nobelprize.org

    This probably means that they have already spoken to the laureate(s).
     
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  3. Oct 4, 2016 #2

    Orodruin

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    From the announcement:

     
  4. Oct 4, 2016 #3
  5. Oct 4, 2016 #4

    DrClaude

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  6. Oct 4, 2016 #5
    Thorne has fairly good reasons to feel slightly disappointed. (This is just my opinion).
     
  7. Oct 4, 2016 #6

    vanhees71

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    Well, Thorne will have to wait for (at least) one more year. That was expected since the Nobel Commitee considers only research published unitil January 31st of the year of nomination. However, I'm pretty sure that the discovery of gravitational waves will lead to a Nobel prize, provided they find a good argument to figure out 3 people of a huge collaborative international effort.
     
  8. Oct 4, 2016 #7

    ZapperZ

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    Looks like they went vintage! They had to dig real deep and went way back to find this.

    I've dealt the Kosterlitz-Thouless transition way back when I was in grad school, and thought that the ship had left the harbor a long time ago as far as the Nobel prize is concerned. And when I was a postdoc, we had a physicist who was an expert at the magnetic spin Haldane chains that I learned from.

    So the prize is a surprise, but not undeserving.

    Zz.
     
  9. Oct 4, 2016 #8

    Orodruin

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    This is really the point. I think nobody in the physics community with any insight into the award procedure expected that gravitational waves would be on the menu for this year's prize. Since February this year it has been pretty clear that the discovery of gravitational waves is the one to beat for the Nobel prize of 2017. The LHC resonance at 760 GeV would have been a strong contender had it held up, but as it turned out - it didn't.
     
  10. Oct 4, 2016 #9

    DrClaude

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    I guess that recent work on the subject using BECs is one of the reasons why this work was in consideration at this point in time.
     
  11. Oct 4, 2016 #10

    ZapperZ

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    No, I actually think that the advancement in topological insulators is the one that framed the importance of these work. The Haldane magnetic spins becomes interesting in 1D, while the Kosterlitz-Thouless transition is relevant in very thin 2D films. The topology, and the dimensionality of these material become significant and can affect their properties.

    Zz.
     
  12. Oct 4, 2016 #11

    f95toli

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    Indeed, topological insulators is a very "hot" topic right now and the first real experimental results started appearing 2-3 years ago, which presumably is why the committee felt that this was a good year for them to (finally) get the prize.
     
  13. Oct 4, 2016 #12

    vanhees71

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    Has anybody a good explanation of the prize at the popular-science level? Usually, as a physicist one has to answer questions about the Nobel prize, and I'm a bit lost in how to explain the Kosterlitz-Tholess transition. I'm also not an expert on this myself. So I'll study the advanced scientific background article by the Nobel committee which usually is very good. I also glanced over one of the original papers by Kosterlitz and Tholess of 1973, which looks understandable to me, but again, how to bring it to a not too wrong popular-science level is really a challenge this time!
     
  14. Oct 4, 2016 #13

    Orodruin

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    Did you have a look at the Nobel committee's popular description? I did not check it this year, but they usually spend some time on trying to make it understandable at a popular level.
     
  15. Oct 4, 2016 #14

    DrClaude

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    See post #4.
     
  16. Oct 4, 2016 #15
    Can someone explain what is meant by "gap" and "gapless" in the description of the spin chains?
     
  17. Oct 4, 2016 #16

    PAllen

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    I'll repeat my refrain, that Lene Hau is due for a prize.
     
  18. Oct 4, 2016 #17

    ZapperZ

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    She, and Vera Rubin. Sadly, Deborah Jin passed away recently.

    Zz.
     
  19. Oct 4, 2016 #18

    atyy

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    In the usual phase transitions, we have a symmetry breaking picture (Landau Ginzburg). [No gauge-invariant local order parameter - if one allows global order parameters, I think one can still often use the symmetry breaking picture, but not always - actually, even superconductors are topological in this sense, but it wasn't realised at that time: https://arxiv.org/abs/cond-mat/0404327.]

    http://dao.mit.edu/~wen/topartS3.pdf
    - "Strictly speaking, althrough the Landau’s theory and the symmetry description of orders and phase transitions represent an important mile stone in our understanding of orders, the theory actually cannot describe all the classical orders. This is because some classical phase transitions, such as the Kosterliz-Thouless transition, do not change any symmetries. Thus despite the success of the Landau’s theory, even some classical orders are not fully understood."
    - "I would to thank T. Senthil for pointing out to me that in addition to the Kosterliz-Thouless transition, there are several other classical continuous phases transitions that do not change any symmetries."

    Reading Wikipedia and Dr Claude's link to the pop sci description, it looks like it should be the BKT transition.

    You can see similar comments about the Haldane state in http://online.kitp.ucsb.edu/online/compqcm10/oshikawa/pdf/Oshikawa_CompQCM.pdf.

    As these transitions do not fall under symmetry breaking, they represent conceptually new ways in which different "states of matter" can form.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2016
  20. Oct 4, 2016 #19

    atyy

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    In high energy physics, "gap" translates to "massive", and "gapless" translates to "massless".
     
  21. Oct 5, 2016 #20

    DrClaude

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    Oy, didn't know that. RIP.
     
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