A random walk through physics to the Nobel Prize


  • J. Michael Kosterlitz ⋅ US Brown University, USA


The talk is the story of my random walk through physics via Cambridge, Oxford, Turin and Birmingham finishing up at Brown University. I describe my very crooked path through life including physics and my other life as a mountaineer. I also include a somewhat simplified version of my prize winning work.

About the Speaker

J. Michael Kosterlitz, Brown University, USA

J. Michael Kosterlitz is a theoretical physicist recognized for his work with David J. Thouless on the application of topological ideas to the theory of phase transitions in two-dimensional systems with a continuous symmetry. The theory has been applied to thin films of superfluid 4He, superconductors and to melting of two-dimensional solids. Experiments on two-dimensional layers of colloidal crystals agree with theoretical predictions in quantitative detail. This work was recognized by the Lars Onsager prize in 2000, membership in the AAAS 2007, the 2016 Nobel Prize for physics, and election to the NAS in 2017. He graduated from Cambridge University earning a BSc in Physics in 1965, an MA in 1966, and received a D. Phil. from Oxford in 1969. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Torino University, Italy, in 1970 and at Birmingham University, U.K., from 1970–1973. There he met David Thouless and together they did their groundbreaking work on phase transitions mediated by topological defects in two dimensions. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell in 1974, on the faculty at Birmingham 1974–1981 and Professor of Physics at Brown University from 1982 to the present.

J Michael Kosterlitz



Article ID



Keynote Address



How to Cite

JM Kosterlitz, A random walk through physics to the Nobel Prize, Proceedings of the Samahang Pisika ng Pilipinas 39, SPP-2021-KA-01 (2021). URL: https://proceedings.spp-online.org/article/view/SPP-2021-KA-01.