Samuel C.C. Ting, Ph.D.

Nobel Conference 49
Oct. 1 & 2, 2013

Samuel C.C. Ting, Ph.D., Thomas Dudley Cabot Institute Professor of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge; 1976 Nobel laureate in physics

Experimental physicist Samuel Ting shared the 1976 Nobel Prize in physics with Burton Richter of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center “for their pioneering work in the discovery of a heavy elementary particle of a new kind.” Their discovery of the J/ψ meson nuclear particle opened the door to the identification of a whole family of new particles. Ting is also the principal investigator for the $1.5 billion Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer experiment installed on the International Space Station in May 2011, a project involving 500 scientists from 56 institutions and 16 countries.

The son of parents who met and married as graduate students at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and then returned to China two months after his birth, Ting came back to to the United States in 1956 at the age of 20 to attend the University of Michigan, where he studied engineering, mathematics, and physics. He was awarded B.S.E.s in both mathematics and physics in 1959 and a doctorate in physics in 1962. Starting in 1963 he worked for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) as a Ford Foundation Fellow before joining the faculty at Columbia University. While on leave from Columbia Ting performed research on electron-positron pair production at the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) in Hamburg, Germany, work that eventually led to his group finding evidence of a new, totally unpredicted, heavy particle—the J particle—in 1974. Since 1969 he has been a professor at MIT; in 1977 he was named first recipient of the Thomas Cabot Professorship.