Yoichiro Nambu

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Yoichiro Nambu
南部 陽一郎
Nambu in 2005
Born(1921-01-18)18 January 1921
Died5 July 2015(2015-07-05) (aged 94)
CitizenshipUnited States (1970–2015)
Alma mater Tokyo Imperial University
Known for Spontaneous symmetry breaking
Nambu–Goto action
Spouse(s)Chieko Hida
Children1 Son (John)
Awards Heineman Prize (1970)
Order of Culture of Japan (1978)
US National Medal of Science (1982)
Dirac Medal (1986)
J.J. Sakurai Prize (1994)
Wolf Prize in Physics (1994/1995)
Pomeranchuk Prize (2007)
Nobel Prize in Physics (2008)
Scientific career
Fields Physics
Institutions University of Tokyo (1942–49)
Osaka City University (1949–52)
Institute for Advanced Study (1952–54)
University of Chicago (1954– 2015)

Yoichiro Nambu(南部 陽一郎,Nambu Yōichirō, 18 January 1921 – 5 July 2015) was a Japanese-American physicist and professor at the University of Chicago. [1] Known for his contributions to the field of theoretical physics, he was awarded half of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2008 for the discovery in 1960 of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics, related at first to the strong interaction's chiral symmetry and later to the electroweak interaction and Higgs mechanism. [2] The other half was split equally between Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa "for the discovery of the origin of the broken symmetry which predicts the existence of at least three families of quarks in nature." [2]

Physicist scientist who does research in physics

A physicist is a scientist who specializes in the field of physics, which encompasses the interactions of matter and energy at all length and time scales in the physical universe. Physicists generally are interested in the root or ultimate causes of phenomena, and usually frame their understanding in mathematical terms. Physicists work across a wide range of research fields, spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic and particle physics, through biological physics, to cosmological length scales encompassing the universe as a whole. The field generally includes two types of physicists: experimental physicists who specialize in the observation of physical phenomena and the analysis of experiments, and theoretical physicists who specialize in mathematical modeling of physical systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena. Physicists can apply their knowledge towards solving practical problems or to developing new technologies.

University of Chicago Private research university in Chicago, Illinois, United States

The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1890, the school is located on a 217-acre campus in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, near Lake Michigan. The University of Chicago holds top-ten positions in various national and international rankings.

Theoretical physics branch of physics

Theoretical physics is a branch of physics that employs mathematical models and abstractions of physical objects and systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena. This is in contrast to experimental physics, which uses experimental tools to probe these phenomena.


Early life and education

Nambu was born in Tokyo, Japan, in 1921. After graduating from the then Fukui Secondary High School in Fukui City, he enrolled in the Imperial University of Tokyo and studied physics. He received his Bachelor of Science in 1942 and Doctorate of Science in 1952. [2] In 1949 he was appointed to associate professor at the Osaka City University [3] and promoted to professorship the next year at the age of 29. [2]

Tokyo Capital of Japan

Tokyo, officially Tokyo Metropolis, one of the 47 prefectures of Japan, has served as the Japanese capital since 1869. As of 2018, the Greater Tokyo Area ranked as the most populous metropolitan area in the world. The urban area houses the seat of the Emperor of Japan, of the Japanese government and of the National Diet. Tokyo forms part of the Kantō region on the southeastern side of Japan's main island, Honshu, and includes the Izu Islands and Ogasawara Islands. Tokyo was formerly named Edo when Shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu made the city his headquarters in 1603. It became the capital after Emperor Meiji moved his seat to the city from Kyoto in 1868; at that time Edo was renamed Tokyo. Tokyo Metropolis formed in 1943 from the merger of the former Tokyo Prefecture and the city of Tokyo. Tokyo is often referred to as a city but is officially known and governed as a "metropolitan prefecture", which differs from and combines elements of a city and a prefecture, a characteristic unique to Tokyo.

Fukui Prefectural Fujishima High School

Fukui Prefectural Fujishima High School is a high school in Fukui, Japan, founded in 1855. The school is operated by the Fukui Prefectural Board of Education. In 2004 the school was chosen as SSH.

University of Tokyo national research university in Tokyo, Japan

The University of Tokyo, abbreviated as Todai or UTokyo, is a public research university located in Bunkyo, Tokyo, Japan. Established in 1877 as the first imperial university, it is one of Japan's most prestigious universities.

In 1952, he was invited by the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, United States, to study. He moved to the University of Chicago in 1954 and was promoted to professor in 1958. [4] From 1974 to 1977 he was also Chairman of the Department of Physics. [5] He became a United States citizen in 1970. [6]

Institute for Advanced Study postgraduate center in Princeton, New Jersey

The Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), located at 1 Einstein Drive, Princeton, New Jersey, in the United States, is an independent postdoctoral research center for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. It was founded in 1930 by American educator Abraham Flexner, together with philanthropists Louis Bamberger and Caroline Bamberger Fuld.

Princeton, New Jersey Borough in New Jersey, United States

Princeton is a municipality with a borough form of government in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States, that was established in its current form on January 1, 2013, through the consolidation of the Borough of Princeton and Princeton Township. As of the 2010 United States Census, the municipality's population was 28,572, reflecting the former township's population of 16,265, along with the 12,307 in the former borough.

Career in physics

Nambu and associates in 1996 NambuDualityMeetingArgonne1996.jpg
Nambu and associates in 1996

Nambu proposed the "color charge" of quantum chromodynamics, [7] having done early work on spontaneous symmetry breaking in particle physics, [8] and having discovered that the dual resonance model could be explained as a quantum mechanical theory of strings. [9] [10] He was accounted as one of the founders of string theory. [11]

Quantum chromodynamics theory of strong interactions, a fundamental force describing the interactions between quarks and gluons, which make up hadrons such as the proton, neutron and pion

In theoretical physics, quantum chromodynamics (QCD) is the theory of the strong interaction between quarks and gluons, the fundamental particles that make up composite hadrons such as the proton, neutron and pion. QCD is a type of quantum field theory called a non-abelian gauge theory, with symmetry group SU(3). The QCD analog of electric charge is a property called color. Gluons are the force carrier of the theory, like photons are for the electromagnetic force in quantum electrodynamics. The theory is an important part of the Standard Model of particle physics. A large body of experimental evidence for QCD has been gathered over the years.

Spontaneous symmetry breaking Physical process

Spontaneous symmetry breaking is a spontaneous process of symmetry breaking, by which a physical system in a symmetric state ends up in an asymmetric state. In particular, it can describe systems where the equations of motion or the Lagrangian obey symmetries, but the lowest-energy vacuum solutions do not exhibit that same symmetry. When the system goes to one of those vacuum solutions, the symmetry is broken for perturbations around that vacuum even though the entire Lagrangian retains that symmetry.

Particle physics Branch of physics

Particle physics is a branch of physics that studies the nature of the particles that constitute matter and radiation. Although the word particle can refer to various types of very small objects, particle physics usually investigates the irreducibly smallest detectable particles and the fundamental interactions necessary to explain their behaviour. By our current understanding, these elementary particles are excitations of the quantum fields that also govern their interactions. The currently dominant theory explaining these fundamental particles and fields, along with their dynamics, is called the Standard Model. Thus, modern particle physics generally investigates the Standard Model and its various possible extensions, e.g. to the newest "known" particle, the Higgs boson, or even to the oldest known force field, gravity.

After more than fifty years as a professor, he was Henry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor emeritus at the University of Chicago's Department of Physics and Enrico Fermi Institute. [12] [13]

Enrico Fermi Institute Physics research institute of the University of Chicago

The Institute for Nuclear Studies was founded September 1945 as part of the University of Chicago with Samuel King Allison as director. On November 20, 1955 it was renamed The Enrico Fermi Institute for Nuclear Studies. The name was shortened to The Enrico Fermi Institute (EFI) in January 1968.

The Nambu-Goto action in string theory is named after Nambu and Tetsuo Goto. Also, massless bosons arising in field theories with spontaneous symmetry breaking are sometimes referred to as Nambu–Goldstone bosons. [14] [15]

In quantum mechanics, a boson is a particle that follows Bose–Einstein statistics. Bosons make up one of the two classes of particles, the other being fermions. The name boson was coined by Paul Dirac to commemorate the contribution of Indian physicist and professor of physics at University of Calcutta and at University of Dhaka, Satyendra Nath Bose in developing, with Albert Einstein, Bose–Einstein statistics—which theorizes the characteristics of elementary particles.


Nambu died on 5 July 2015 at the age of 94 in Osaka due to a heart attack. [16] [17] His funeral and memorial services were held among close relatives. [16]


Nambu won numerous honors and awards including the Dannie Heineman Prize (1970), the J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize (1977), [18] [19] Japan's Order of Culture (1978), the U.S.'s National Medal of Science (1982), the Max Planck Medal (1985), the Dirac Prize (1986), the Sakurai Prize (1994), the Wolf Prize in Physics (1994/1995), and the Franklin Institute's Benjamin Franklin Medal (2005). [3] [20] He was awarded one-half of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics "for the discovery of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics". [2] [21] [22]

See also

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