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Three British Scientists Win Nobel Physics Prize for work on Exotic States of Matter

Research conducted by David J. Thouless, F. Duncan Haldane and J. Michael Kosterlitz, brought forth a new and totally unexpected understanding of the way solid materials behave

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Thomas Hans Hansson (R), one of the members of the Royal Academy of Sciences, speaks during a news conference announcing the winners of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Physics in Stockholm, Sweden, Oct. 4, 2016. VOA
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Three United States university professors have won the Nobel Prize for Physics for their work on exotic states of matter, the Nobel jury announced Tuesday.

Research conducted by the three British-born scientists, David J. Thouless, F. Duncan Haldane and J. Michael Kosterlitz, brought forth a new and totally unexpected understanding of the way solid materials behave.

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The scientists also developed their own mathematical equations to explain the new behavioural properties.

“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,” The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which hands out the award, said in a statement.

A screen showing pictures of the winners of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Physics during a news conference by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, Sweden, Oct. 4, 2016. VOA
A screen showing pictures of the winners of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Physics during a news conference by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, Sweden, Oct. 4, 2016. VOA

Thouless is an emeritus professor at the University of Washington, Haldane is a professor of physics at Princeton University and Kosterlitz is a professor of physics at Brown University.

The three scientists began working on the research that would eventually net them a Nobel Prize in the 1970’s and 1980’s, but judges often wait decades to honor scientific discoveries to ensure they stand up to further research.

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Haldane said during a press conference he was “as everyone else is, very surprised and very gratified” to win the award.

“A lot of tremendous new discoveries that are based on this original work are now happening,” he said.

Along with the prestige that comes with winning a Nobel Prize, the prize carries a cash award of $930,000, which the scientists will split. They will also receive diplomas and medals at an award ceremony set for December 10.

Yoshinori Ohsumi, a professor of Tokyo Institute of Technology smiles in front of a celebration message board after he won the Nobel medicine prize in Yokohama, Japan, October 3, 2016 in this photo released by Kyodo. VOA
Yoshinori Ohsumi, a professor of Tokyo Institute of Technology smiles in front of a celebration message board after he won the Nobel medicine prize in Yokohama, Japan, October 3, 2016 in this photo released by Kyodo. VOA

The 2016 Nobel Prize announcements began Monday with Japanese biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi winning the medicine award for discoveries on autophagy, the process by which a cell breaks down and recycles content.

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Later this week, the Nobel jury will announce the winners of the chemistry and peace prizes. Next week, the economics and literature awards will be announced. (VOA)

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Beware! Tobacco, Poor Diet, and Mental Disorders are Leading Causes of Poor Health and you may be at Risk too!

According to a new study, deaths from noncommunicable, or chronic, diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes have caused 72 percent of all deaths worldwide

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poor health
A heavyset man rests on a bench in Jackson, Miss. (VOA)

London, September 15, 2017 : Heart disease and tobacco ranked with conflict and violence among the world’s leading cause of poor health and the biggest killers in 2016, while poor diets and mental disorders caused people the greatest poor health, a large international study has found.

The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study, published in The Lancet medical journal, found that while life expectancy is increasing, so too are the years people live in poor health. The proportion of life spent being ill is higher in poor countries than in wealthy ones.

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“Death is a powerful motivator, both for individuals and for countries, to address diseases that have been killing us at high rates. But we’ve been much less motivated to address issues leading to illnesses,” said Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, which led the study.

He said a “triad of troubles” — obesity, conflict and mental illness — is emerging as a “stubborn and persistent barrier to active and vigorous lifestyles.”

Diet critical

The IHME-led study, involving more than 2,500 researchers in about 130 countries, found that in 2016, poor diet was associated with nearly one in five deaths worldwide. Tobacco smoking killed 7.1 million people.

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Diets low in whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds, fish oils and high in salt were the most common risk factors, contributing to cases of obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol.

The study found that deaths from firearms, conflict and terrorism have increased globally, and that noncommunicable, or chronic, diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes caused 72 percent of all deaths worldwide.

Heart disease was the leading cause of premature death in most regions and killed 9.48 million people globally in 2016.

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Mental illness was found to take a heavy toll on individuals and societies, with 1.1 billion people living with psychological or psychiatric disorders and substance abuse problems in 2016.

Major depressive disorders ranked in the top 10 causes of ill health in all but four countries worldwide.

The GBD is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation global health charity and gives data estimates on 330 diseases, causes of death and injuries in 195 countries and territories. (VOA)