Frank A. Wilczek, Ph.D.
Nobel Conference 49
Oct. 1 & 2, 2013
Frank A. Wilczek, Ph.D., Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge; 2004 Nobel laureate in physics
Theoretical physicist Frank Wilczek shared the 2004 Nobel Prize in physics with David Gross and H. David Politzer for their discovery of “asymptotic freedom,” which holds that the closer quarks are to each other, the less the strong interaction (or color change) between them (and that when quarks are in extreme proximity, the nuclear force between them is so weak that they behave almost as free particles). In 1973, while a graduate student at Princeton, Wilczek and his adviser, David Gross, developed the theory (independently discovered by Politzer at Harvard), which was important for the development of quantum chromodynamics.
Wilczek received his bachelor of science degree in mathematics from the University of Chicago in 1970, at the age of 19. He earned an M.A. in mathematics (1972) and a Ph.D. in physics (1974) from Princeton University. Before joining the faculty at MIT he worked at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study and the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and was a visiting professor at the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics (NORDITA) in Stockholm, Sweden. Wilczek has worked on an unusually wide range of topics, ranging across condensed matter physics, astrophysics, and particle physics. He has helped to reveal and develop axions, anyons, asymptotic freedom, the color superconducting phases of quark matter, and other aspects of quantum field theory. He was awarded the Lorentz Medal in 2002.