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British trio win 2016 Nobel prize in Physics

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the trio "opened the door" to an unknown world where matter takes unusual states or phases
Nobel Prize in Physics

Three British-born scientists on Tuesday were awarded 2016 Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday. Physicists David Thouless, Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz were awarded this year’s Nobel Prize  for work that “revealed the secrets of exotic matter”.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the trio “opened the door” to an unknown world where matter takes unusual states or phases.  They were for their “theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter.”

The three: Thouless, 82, is a professor emeritus at the University of Washington; Haldane, 65, is a physics professor at Princeton University in New Jersey and Kosterlitz, 73, is a physics professor at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

The research of the trio was conducted in in the 1970s and ’80s. Nobel judges often award discoveries made decades ago, to make sure they withstand the test of time.

The 2016 Nobel Prize announcement was started on Monday with the medicine award going to Japanese biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi for discoveries on autophagy, the process by which a cell breaks down and recycles content.

The prize committee will announced the chemistry prize on Wednesday and the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. The economics and literature awards will be announced next week.

“I was very surprised and very gratified,” Haldane said in a telephone interview with the Nobel Foundation soon after he was named a co-winner. “It’s only now that a lot of tremendous new discoveries based on this work are now happening.” “There’s great hope for these new materials to have a big impact,” he added.

Thouless,  who was born in Bearsden in Scotland was awarded half of the prize. The other half will be shared equally between Duncan Haldane, who was born in London, and Michael Kosterlitz, who was born in Aberdeen in 1942.

Each prize has a purse of 8 million kronor ($930,000). The winners also collect a medal and a diploma at the award ceremonies on Dec. 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896.

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