Tsung-Dao (T.D.) Lee
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1957
Born: 24 November 1926, Shanghai, China
Affiliation at the time of the award: Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
Prize motivation: “for their penetrating investigation of the so-called parity laws which has led to important discoveries regarding the elementary particles”
Prize share: 1/2
For a long time, physicists assumed that various symmetries characterized nature. In a kind of “mirror world” where right and left were reversed and matter was replaced by antimatter, the same physical laws would apply, they posited. The equality of these laws was questioned concerning the decay of certain elementary particles, however, in 1956 and Tsung Dao Lee and Chen Ning Yang formulated a theory that the left-right symmetry law is violated by the weak interaction. Measurements of electrons’ direction of motion during a cobalt isotope’s beta decay confirmed this.