Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Yoichiro Nambu (born January 18, 1921) is a physicist, currently a professor at the University of Chicago. Known for his contributions to the field of theoretical physics, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2008 (click here for the N.Y. Times story on the award) for the discovery of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics.
Nambu was born in Japan in 1921. After graduating from high school, he studied physics at Tokyo Imperial University. He received his B.S. in 1942 and D.Sc. in 1952. In 1949 he was appointed to associate professor at the Osaka City University and promoted to professor the next year. In 1952 he was invited by the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey to study. He moved to the University of Chicago and was promoted to professor in 1958. Nambu became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1970.
Nambu is famous for having proposed the "color charge" of quantum chromodynamics, for having done early work on spontaneous symmetry breaking in particle physics, and for having discovered that the dual resonance model could be explained as a quantum mechanical theory of strings. He is accounted as one of the founders of string theory. He has won numerous honors and awards including the J. Robert Oppenheimer Prize, the U.S.'s National Medal of Science, Japan's Order of Culture, the Planck Medal, the Wolf Prize, the Franklin Institute's Franklin Medal, the Dirac Medal and the Sakurai Prize.
After a 50-year career as a physics professor at the University of Chicago, Nambu is now its Henry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at its Department of Physics and Enrico Fermi Institute.