The 2016 Nobel Prize in physics has been awarded to David Thouless from the University of Washington, Duncan Haldane from Princeton University, and to Michael Kosterlitz from Brown University for "opening the door on an unknown world where matter can assume strange states". Their work involved using the mathematical field of topology to look at unusual states of matter, such as superconductors and superfluids. In topology, the goal is to describe shapes and structures by some fundamental characteristics, like the number of holes. So topologically speaking, a mug is the same as a bagel, as they both have one hole, but a pretzel is different because it has two. It's hoped that their work will give rise to new developments in material science and electronics, including in quantum computing.