Eugene Wigner

Picture of Eugene Wigner

Date of Birth: 11/17/1902

Age: 92

Place of birth: Budapest

Citizenship: Hungary


In 1930 he became an assistant professor of physics in Gottingen and that same year he emigrated to the United States, where forever linked his fate with Princeton University. After one year a lecturer in physics, he served as professor of hourly workers in mathematical physics from 1931 to 1937, excluding the holiday in 1931, when he worked at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin. In 1937 - 1938 years. he served as professor of physics at the University of Wisconsin, but in 1938 he returned to Princeton, where he received a bid professor of mathematical physics.

The main scientific contribution was V. application of group theory, a particular branch of mathematics, quantum mechanics - the area has developed rapidly in the 30-ies. His earliest research concerned the rates of chemical reactions, as well as the theory of metallic bonds, the structure of atoms and nuclei and characteristics of nuclear reactions. In 1933, a year after the discovery of the neutron by the English physicist James Chadwick, B. showed that the forces that hold together protons and neutrons, should act only at very short distances and be much stronger than the long-range electrical forces that attract electrons to the atomic nucleus.

With his former classmate John von Neumann, he applied the theory of groups to associate with the energy levels of nuclei observed his behavior. This work has proved to be particularly useful when trying to explain the existence of the fact that B. called magic numbers. Cores containing or magic number of protons or neutrons, has been found empirically proved particularly stable and numerous. B. Research helped Maria Goeppert-Mayer and J. Hans D. Jensen in their successful attempts undertaken independently of one another, find a deep source of magic numbers in the quantum mechanical motions in the nucleus of protons and neutrons.

B. was one of the first physicists who evaluated the effect of symmetry principles in predicting the invariance of physical processes. These principles relate to the conservation of certain characteristics, existing before the transition, the final products after the transition. For example, the principles of symmetry and invariance requirements can help predict what nuclear reactions are possible and which are not.

With the discovery of nuclear fission, made by Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner, soon, in 1939, the outbreak of the Second World War, American physicists were concerned that Nazi Germany might try to develop nuclear weapons. B. joined Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi and other scientists insist that the US government has funded nuclear research, willows 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved the Manhattan Project to build an atomic bomb.

In 1941 ... 1942. B. served as a consultant to the Federal Office of Research and Development US. Then he took a sabbatical at Princeton in 1942, to join the Manhattan Project. Here, in the Metallurgical Laboratory, he conducted theoretical studies and participated in the development of a nuclear reactor to produce plutonium. His work has contributed to the understanding of many processes and neutron allow to predict the behavior of supercritical mass of nuclear warheads. December 2, 1942 B. was present at the first launch of a nuclear chain reaction.

After the war, B. conducted in 1946 and 1947 ...., Working as the director of research and development work in the Clinton Laboratories Atomic Energy Commission, Oak Ridge (Tennessee), where he led a team of 400 scientists and technicians who produced isotopes for peaceful purposes. The first such material, carbon-14, was used by Barnard Free-skins in the Cancer Hospital in St. Louis (Missouri).

Returning to Princeton after the war, B. actively opposed the consequences of nuclear research. Heading the conference on the future of nuclear science, which was held on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Princeton University in 1946, he urged his fellow scientists to be socially responsible for the consequences related to nuclear technology. Two years later, at a meeting of the American Association for Basic Sciences in Washington (DC), he insisted that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes should find application only if the necessary security guarantees. Later, he expressed his disappointment that the emergence of the hydrogen bomb not prompted the United Nations to be an effective body "to neutralize it."

B. helped develop nuclear reactors for electricity generation and for the production of isotopes intended for research, analysis and medical purposes. He was afraid of the nuclear arms race and did not agree with the view that nuclear technology is purely military in nature and must be controlled by the military. In the post-war trials B. used his work on group theory to describe the interaction of energetic elementary particles.

B. was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963 "for his contributions to the theory of the atomic nucleus and the elementary particles, particularly through the discovery and application of fundamental symmetry principles." He shared the award with Maria Goeppert-Mayer and J. Hans D. Jensen. He said when he found ... that the force between two nucleons is very weak Ivar Waller of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences member, at the presentation of the winner, "an important step in the study of these forces [between nucleons] was made in 1933 by W., for except in cases where the distance between them is very small, but then this power is a million times larger than the electric forces between the electrons in the outer part of the atoms ... B. made many other important discoveries in nuclear physics. He constructed a general theory of nuclear reactions and has made decisive contributions to the practical use of nuclear energy, he paved together with younger scientists new ways in many other areas of physics. "

In 1971, B. became an honorary professor emeritus at Princeton. He remained an active interest in philosophical questions of quantum mechanics and the future of the interaction of science and society. He was project director of civil defense for the US National Academy of Sciences in 1963 and the director of a similar project at Oak Ridge in 1964 ... 1965.

B. Zipporah married Amelia Frank in 1936. She died the following year. Four years later, he married Mary Annette Wheeler, a physics professor at Vassar College, they had a son and a daughter. Wigner Mary died in 1977, and in 1979 he married Eileen KP Hamilton. Since 1937 he is a citizen of the United States.

In addition to the Nobel Prize, B. was awarded by the US government medal "For Merits" (1946), Enrico Fermi Medal of the American Atomic Energy Commission (1958), the Max Planck Medal of the German Physical Society (1961) and the National Medal `For his scientific achievements` of the National Science Fund (1969), as well as many other awards. He was awarded honorary degrees by more than twenty colleges and universities in the US and Europe. He was a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Mathematical Society. American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Physical Society. He is also a member of the Academy of Sciences of Gottingen.