Combine topology with symmetry and add a sprinkling of quantum mechanics. The result? A powerful new theory of everything
Topology is the study of shape, in particular the properties that are preserved when a shape is squeezed, stretched and battered but not torn or ripped.
In the past, topology was little more than an amusing diversion for mathematicians doodling about the difference between donuts and dumplings.
But that is beginning to change. In recent years, physicists have begun to use topology to explain some of the most important puzzles at the frontiers of physics.