In 1983, Laughlin was first to provide a many body wave function, now known as the Laughlin wavefunction, for the fractional quantum hall effect, which was able to correctly explain the fractionalized charge observed in experiments. This state has since been interpreted to be a Bose–Einstein condensate.
Laughlin published a book entitled A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down in 2005. The book argues for emergence as a replacement for reductionism, in addition to general commentary on hot-topic issues.
Laughlin's view of climate change is that it may be important, but the Future is impossible to change, since any effort to slow the rate of fossil fuel usage will "leave the end result exactly the same: all the fossil fuel that used to be in the ground is now in the air, and none is left to burn", and since the climactic/geologic recovery process "will take an eternity from the human perspective, but it will be only a brief instant of geologic time.". He writes "The geologic record suggests that climate ought not to concern us too much when we’re gazing into the Energy Future, not because it's unimportant, but because it's beyond our power to control."