A British trio of scientists, David Thouless, Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz, have won the 2016 Nobel Physics Prize. Kosterlitz being the son of Jewish migrants who fled the Nazis.
The prize was announced on Tuesday where the Nobel jury said, “This year’s laureates opened the door on an unknown world where matter can assume strange states. They have used advanced mathematical methods to study unusual phases, or states, of matter, such as superconductors, superfluids or thin magnetic films”.
“Thanks to their pioneering work, the hunt is now on for new and exotic phases of matter,” it added.
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 4, 2016
The award was given for work they did in the 1970’s and 1980’s, but it is not uncommon for Nobel Prizes to be awarded decades later to ensure that theories and discoveries stand the test of time.
Professor Kosterlitz, who is currently a visiting fellow at Aalto University in Finland, told the Associated Press he was “still trying to take it in”.
He added: “It was a piece of work that I did as a very ignorant post-doc”.
“Complete ignorance was actually an advantage because I didn’t have any preconceived ideas. I was young and stupid enough to take it on.”
Prof Kosterlitz is the son of Hans Walter Kosterlitz, a German-Jewish biochemist who fled to Scotland in 1934 to escape the Nazis. He found work in the UK, joining the staff of Aberdeen University, and was able to arrange for his then-fiancé, Hannah to join him. Michael was born in Aberdeen in 1942.
The official Nobel Prize award ceremony will take place in Stockholm on 10th December 2016.