Nobel Prize

In 2004 I shared the Nobel Prize in physics with David Gross and David Politzer, ``For the discovery of asymptotic freedom in the strong interaction.''

Here is my Nobel lecture, which describes all this in more fully, and with more technical details.  Here is the short biography I supplied at the time. is the official website of the Nobel Foundation.  It is a wonderful resource for science, history, and all things Nobel.  

My wife Betsy Devine wrote a blog about her Nobel-related experiences, which you'll find here.

Let me expand on our rather austere citation.   Modern physics recognizes four fundamental forces of Nature.  Two, gravity and electromagnetism, have been recognized for a long time, but the other two, the so-called strong and weak forces, were only discovered in the twentieth century.   The strong force is responsible for binding quarks and gluons into protons, neutrons, and eventually atomic nuclei.    It comes into its own in stellar astrophysics, cosmology, and at high-energy accelerators, where it is revealed as the most powerful force in Nature.  
In 1972, when Gross and I began our work, a lot of information about the strong force had been gathered experimentally, but there was no coherent theory of it. We discovered that some key facts about the strong interaction could only be explained if a very specific set of equations ran the show.  On this basis we proposed a complete theory of the strong interaction, now known as quantum chromodynamics or QCD, together with some crucial experimental tests.   Later work both vindicated and built upon our proposals.  

``Asymptotic freedom'' is an important, unique consequence of our equations, which guided us to them.  According to asymptotic freedom, the strong force gets weaker at short distances, and also at high energy.   Asymptotic freedom, as a mathematical phenomenon, was discovered by Politzer independently.

Asymptotic freedom and QCD revolutionized early universe cosmology, the analysis of high-energy experiments, and the quest for a unified field theory.