The Institute for Advanced Study Congratulates the 2004 Nobel Prize Winners Frank Wilczek, David J. Gross, and H. David Politzer
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics to Frank Wilczek, the J. Robert Oppenheimer Professor in the School of Natural Sciences from 1988 to 2000, and two other scientists: David J. Gross and H. David Politzer.
Like Wilczek, Gross is a former Member in the School of Natural Sciences. The three scientists were honored for their work on the theory of the "strong force," the force that holds subatomic particles together inside the nucleus. They described an aspect of the theory, called "asymptotic freedom," that quarks, the constituents of the protons and neutrons within the nucleus, behave almost as free particles at very close distances. The strong force becomes weaker as the particles move closer together and stronger as they move apart, rather like a rubber band that is stretched. Their work was published in 1973 in two papers in the journal Physical Review Letters, one by Gross and Wilczek and one by Politzer.
"This work has been fundamental to our understanding of the forces that hold the atomic nucleus together," said Peter Goddard, Director of the Institute for Advanced Study. "Without the discovery of asymptotic freedom, the descriptions we have of the fundamental particles of nature and the forces between them would be incomplete."
FRANK WILCZEK was a Member in the School of Natural Sciences (1976–78), prior to his tenure as a member of the Institute's Faculty. He is now the Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Wilczek received his bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Chicago (1970), his master's degree in mathematics from Princeton University (1972), and his Ph.D. in physics from Princeton (1975). He is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (1982) and the Dirac Medal (1994).
DAVID J. GROSS was a Member in the School of Natural Sciences (1973, 1977-78). He is currently director of the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Gross received his undergraduate degree at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (1962) and his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley (1966). He was a professor at Princeton University (1969-97), where he is now Professor Emeritus. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (1987), the Dirac Medal (1988), and the Grande Médaille of the French Academy of Sciences (2004).
H. DAVID POLITZER is a faculty member at the California Institute of Technology.
The Nobel Prizes in Physics has been awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences since 1901.