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Robert Betts Laughlin (born November 1, 1950) is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Stanford University.[1] 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 at the University of California, Berkeley in 1972, and his Ph.D. in physics in 1979 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Between 2004 and 2006 he served as the president of KAIST in Daejeon, South Korea.


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, since any effort to slow the rate of fossil fuel usage will "leave the end result exactly the same: all the fossil fuel that used to be in the ground is now in the air, and none is left to burn", and since the climactic/geologic recovery process "will take an eternity from the human perspective, but it will be only a brief instant of geologic time.". 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]


E. O. Lawrence Award for Physics – 1985
Oliver E. Buckley Prize – 1986
National Academy of Sciences – 1994
Benjamin Franklin Medal for Physics – 1998
Nobel Prize in Physics – 1998
Academy of Achievement's Golden Plate Award – 1999
Doctorate of Letters, University of Maryland – 2005
Onsager Medal – 2007

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. ISBN 978-0-465-03828-2. (Trad. esp.: Un universo diferente. La reinvención de la física en la Edad de la Emergencia, Buenos Aires/Madrid, Katz editores, 2007, ISBN 978-84-935432-9-7).
Laughlin, Robert B. (2008). The Crime of Reason: And the Closing of the Scientific Mind. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-00507-9. (Trad. esp.: Crímenes de la razón. El fin de la mentalidad científica, Buenos Aires/Madrid, Katz editores, 2010, ISBN 978-84-96859-68-5).
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.


Robert Laughlin – Stanford Physics Faculty. Stanford.edu. Retrieved on 2012-01-28.
"Nobel Focus: Current for a Small Charge". Physics Focus. 2 (18). 1998. doi:10.1103/PhysRevFocus.2.18.

"What the Earth Knows" – Robert B. Laughlin. The American Scholar. Retrieved on 2012-01-28.

External links
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Robert B. Laughlin

Photograph, Biography and Bibliographic Resources, from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information, United States Department of Energy
Robert B. Laughlin autobiography
The Crime of Reason and the Closing of the Scientific Mind lecture at the Linda Hall Library, May 4, 2011
Roberts, Russ (August 9, 2010). "Laughlin on the Future of Carbon and Climate". EconTalk. Library of Economics and Liberty.

Physics Encyclopedia

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