Daniel Freedman headshot
Past Member

Daniel Freedman

Affiliation

Natural Sciences

Home Institution

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

From MIT News:

Daniel Z. Freedman is best known for his work with Sergio Ferrara of CERN and Peter van Nieuwenhuizen of Stony Brook University, with whom he developed the theory of supergravity. Their work combines the principles of supersymmetry, which postulates that all fundamental particles have corresponding, unseen “partner” particles; and Einstein's theory of general relativity, which explains that gravity is the result of the curvature of space-time.

When the theory of supersymmetry was developed in 1973, it solved some key problems in particle physics, such as unifying three forces of nature (electromagnetism, the weak nuclear force, and the strong nuclear force), but it left out a fourth force: gravity. Freedman, Ferrara, and van Nieuwenhuizen addressed this in 1976 with their theory of supergravity, in which the gravitons of general relativity acquire superpartners called gravitinos.

The son of small-business people, Freedman was the first in his family to attend college. He became interested in physics during his first year at Wesleyan University, when he enrolled in a special class that taught physics in parallel with the calculus necessary to understand its mathematical laws. It was a pivotal experience. “Learning that the laws of physics can exactly describe phenomena in nature — that totally turned me on,” he says.

MIT News

Dates at IAS

Member
School of Natural Sciences
Member
School of Natural Sciences
Member
School of Natural Sciences

Degrees

University of Wisconsin-Madison
Ph.D.
1964

Honors

1993
Dirac Medal and Prize