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2004 Nobel Colloquium

10/06/2004 3:45 PM 26-100
Frank Wilczek, Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics, MIT

Description: There's no magic formula for winning the Nobel Prize. But you can't find a more classic model than the career of Frank Wilczek, Feshbach Professor of Physics and 2004 Nobel laureate.

Wilczek was a 21 year-old graduate student at Princeton when he made his breakthrough discovery. High energy physics was baffled by the "strong force," which binds the quarks that make up protons and neutrons. Wilczek (with two colleagues who share the prize) was brave enough to entertain a really startling idea: the strong force works in just the opposite way from the more familiar forces in nature _ the closer together the particles are, the weaker the force becomes, an idea Wilczek captured in the phrase "asymptotic freedom." This profound insight into the fundamental forces of nature has astonishing explanatory power, not only for physics but also for cosmology. We now understand the early universe _ the first few minutes of existence _ better than we understand the universe around us today.

Far from resting on his Nobel laurels, Wilczek is still working at the most puzzling frontiers of his science _ for example, struggling to explain The Origin of Mass and the Feebleness of Gravity, the subject of his previous Physics Colloquium.

MORE RESOURCES:
Wilczek Video Lectures on MIT World
MIT News Office on 2004 Nobel in Physics

About the Speaker(s): Frank Wilczek is known, among other things, for the discovery of asymptotic freedom, the development of quantum chromodynamics, the invention of axions, and the discovery and exploitation of new forms of quantum statistics (anyons). Wilczek was 21 years old and a graduate student at Princeton University when he and David Gross defined the properties of gluons, which hold atomic nuclei together. In October 2004 Wilczek shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Gross and H. David Politzer for this work. Wilczek is a co-recipient of the 2005 King Faisal International Prize for Science. Among other awards, Wilczek has received the 2003 High Energy and Particle Physics Prize of the European Physical Society; the 2003 Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society; and the 2002 Lorentz Medal of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Wilczek has taught at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He contributes regularly to Physics Today and Nature.

Host(s): School of Science, Department of Physics

Tape #: T19032

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MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

Category: Events | Updated over 2 years ago

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