On Tuesday, British scientists David Thouless, Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz won the Nobel Prize for Physics. The prize was awarded to the trio for ”for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter” and for revealing “the secrets of exotic matter”.
Anticipating that this would sound like Greek to most people, Thors Hans Hansson, a Swedish physicist and member of the Nobel committee, brought along a bagel and a bun to explain the complexities of the discovery.
“You see when you have both the bun and you have the bagel then you can see that the bagel has a hole but the bun doesn’t. And the important thing with the hole is that although things like taste or shape or deformations can change continuously but the number of holes, what we call the topological variant, can only change like integers. One-two-three-zero...This is zero holes, this has one hole.
I challenge you to imagine what is half a hole. You cannot have half a hole. You need zero, one, two.”
We can't imagine, professor Hansson. What is half a hole?
Ok, we'll watch the video.
Still can't wrap your head around it? YouTube channel Phil's Physics attempts to present an even simpler explanation. The practical application of the research could aid the further development of Quantum computing.