News & AnalysisMaterials Science

Amid Superconductor Debate, Clash of Physics Titans Resumes

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Science  20 Dec 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6165, pp. 1427-1428
DOI: 10.1126/science.342.6165.1427

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After a decade away from physics, Robert Laughlin, a Nobel laureate at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, argues in a pair of soon-to-be published papers that most physicists' basic assumptions about the origins of high-temperature superconductivity are wrong. Instead, Laughlin argues, the biggest mystery in condensed matter physics can be explained starting from the conventional theory of metals, a tack most theorists abandoned decades ago. Other physicists counter that Laughlin has ignored experimental evidence that undermines his ideas, and some view Laughlin's papers as a continuation of a long-running feud with another Nobel laureate.