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Robert B. Laughlin

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Title: Robert B. Laughlin  
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Subject: Nobel Prize in Physics, A Different Universe, MIT Physics Department, Condensed matter physics, List of Nobel laureates by university affiliation
Collection: 1950 Births, American Nobel Laureates, Living People, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Alumni, Members of the United States National Academy of Sciences, Nobel Laureates in Physics, Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize Winners, People from Visalia, California, Scientists at Bell Labs, Stanford University Department of Applied Physics Faculty, Stanford University Department of Physics Faculty, University of California, Berkeley Alumni
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Robert B. Laughlin

Robert Betts Laughlin
Born (1950-11-01) November 1, 1950
Visalia, California, United States
Nationality United States
Fields Theoretical physics
Institutions Stanford
Alma mater MIT
University of California, Berkeley
Doctoral advisor John D. Joannopoulos
Known for Quantum Hall effect
Notable awards E. O. Lawrence Award (1984)
Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize (1986)
Nobel Prize in physics (1998)
The Franklin Medal (1998)

Robert Betts Laughlin (born November 1, 1950) is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Physics[1] and Applied Physics at Stanford University. Along with Horst L. Störmer of Columbia University and Daniel C. Tsui of Princeton University, he was awarded a share of the 1998 Nobel Prize in physics for their explanation of the fractional quantum Hall effect.

Laughlin was born in Visalia, California. He earned a B.A. in Mathematics from UC Berkeley in 1972, and his Ph.D. in physics in 1979 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Between 2004 and 2006 he served as the president of KAIST in Daejeon, South Korea.


  • Career 1
  • View on climate change 2
  • Awards 3
  • Publications 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


In 1983, Laughlin was first to provide a many body wave function, now known as the Laughlin wavefunction, for the fractional quantum hall effect, which was able to correctly explain the fractionalized charge observed in experiments. This state has since been interpreted to be a Bose–Einstein condensate.[2]

View on climate change

Laughlin's view of climate change is that it may be important, but the future is impossible to change. He writes "The geologic record suggests that climate ought not to concern us too much when we’re gazing into the energy future, not because it's unimportant, but because it's beyond our power to control." [3]



Laughlin (right) in the White House together with other 1998 US Nobel Prize Winners and the President Bill Clinton

Laughlin published a book entitled A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down in 2005. The book argues for emergence as a replacement for reductionism, in addition to general commentary on hot-topic issues.

  • Laughlin, Robert B. (2005). A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down. Basic Books. , Buenos Aires/Madrid, Katz editores, 2007, ISBN 978-84-935432-9-7). Un universo diferente. La reinvención de la física en la Edad de la Emergencia (Trad. esp.:  
  • Laughlin, Robert B. (2008). The Crime of Reason: And the Closing of the Scientific Mind. Basic Books. , Buenos Aires/Madrid, Katz editores, 2010, ISBN 978-84-96859-68-5). Crímenes de la razón. El fin de la mentalidad científica (Trad. esp.:  
  • Mente y materia. ¿Qué es la vida? Sobre la vigencia de Erwin Schrödinger (with Michael R. Hendrickson; Robert Pogue Harrison and Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht), Buenos Aires/Madrid, Katz editores, 2010, ISBN 978-84-92946-12-9.


  1. ^ Robert Laughlin – Stanford Physics Faculty. Retrieved on 2012-01-28.
  2. ^ "Nobel Focus: Current for a Small Charge". Physics Focus 2 (18). 1998.  
  3. ^ What the Earth Knows – Robert B. Laughlin. The American Scholar. Retrieved on 2012-01-28.

External links

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