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Saturday, March 17, 2007

 

The universe is a string-net liquid

‘In 1998, just after he won a share of the Nobel prize for physics, Robert Laughlin of Stanford University in California was asked how his discovery of “particles” with fractional charge, now called quasi-particles, would affect the lives of ordinary people. “It probably won’t,” he said, “unless people are concerned about how the universe works.”

Well, people were. [..]

Helton was aware of Wen’s work and decided to look for such materials. Trawling through geology journals, his team spotted a candidate – a dark green crystal that geologists stumbled across in the mountains of Chile in 1972. “The geologists named it after a mineralogist they really admired, Herbert Smith, labelled it and put it to one side,” says team member Young Lee. “They didn’t realise the potential herbertsmithite would have for physicists years later.”‘




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