The Nobel Prize is a big deal, and it was just awarded to a professor at UW for physics. Professor Emeritus David J. Thouless was awarded with two other physicists according to news reports. They explore exotic states of matter or as smart people say "for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter".

Thouless studies topology which is the mathematics that calculate different levels of properties that change in a "stepwise" fashion. It gives clues to how different material elements can manipulate, change, or create new materials by controlling the "state" (solid, liquid, or gas) of that element. His work has opened up possibilities for new materials for electronics and other products in the future.