In 2008, Yoichiro Nambu, Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa received the Nobel Prize in Physics for discoveries concerning nature’s broken symmetry. Find out here about previous Nobel Prizes relevant to their work.
Nobel Prize in Physics 1999
Gerardus ‘t Hooft and Martinus J. G. Veltman
“for elucidating the quantum structure of electroweak interactions in physics”
‘t Hooft and Veltman showed how to precisely calculate physical properties of several of the new and unusual subatomic particles of the type predicted by theories.
Nobel Prize in Physics 1980
James Watson Cronin and Val Logsdon Fitch
“for the discovery of violations of fundamental symmetry principles in the decay of neutral K-mesons”
Their unexpected discovery showed that the laws of Nature are not exactly alike for both antimatter and ordinary matter.
Nobel Prize in Physics 1969
“for his contributions and discoveries concerning the classification of elementary particles and their interactions”
By developing new methods for classifying elementary particles according to their symmetry, Gell-Mann provided powerful tools for further research in particle physics.
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Nobel Prize in Physics 1957
Chen Ning Yang and Tsung-Dao Lee
“for their penetrating investigation of the so-called parity laws which has led to important discoveries regarding the elementary particles”
Yang and Lee made the fundamental discovery that when it comes to so-called ‘spin’ some subatomic particles do not behave the same as their mirror images.
Nobel Prize in Physics 1979
Sheldon L. Glashow, Abdus Salam and Professor Steven Weinberg
“for their contributions to the theory of the unified weak and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles, including, inter alia, the prediction of the weak neutral current”
The work of Glashow, Salam and Weinberg showed that the seemingly different electromagnetic force and the weak force are related, bringing us closer to a grand unified theory of particle physics.
Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1908
“for his investigations into the disintegration of the elements, and the chemistry of radioactive substances”
Lord Rutherford’s classic experiment that bombarded nitrogen gas with radiation to form oxygen was the first type of scientific transmutation process that is used routinely by particle accelerators nowadays.
Nobel Prize in Physics 1939
Ernest Orlando Lawrence
“for the invention and development of the cyclotron and for results obtained with it, especially with regard to artificial radioactive elements”
Lawrence created the first cyclotron, a circular device that could accelerate subatomic particles.
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First published 7 October 2008.