The Nobel Prize in Physics 2008
Born: 18 January 1921, Tokyo, Japan
Died: 5 July 2015, Osaka, Japan
Affiliation at the time of the award: Enrico Fermi Institute, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
Prize motivation: “for the discovery of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics”
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. However, symmetries had been proven to be violated at times. In 1960, Yoichiro Nambu formulated a mathematical theory for understanding spontaneous symmetry violations, providing a basis for better understanding elementary particles and their interactions.