Yang, Chen Ning

known as Frank Yang

born Sept. 22, 1922, Hofei, Anhwei, China

Chinese-born U.S. theoretical physicist.

He immigrated to the U.S. in 1945 and studied with Edward Teller at the University of Chicago. He showed that parity is violated when elementary particles decay. This and other work in particle physics earned him and Tsung-Dao Lee (b. 1926) a 1957 Nobel Prize. His research focused mostly on interactions involving the weak force among elementary particles. He also worked in statistical mechanics.

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▪ American physicist
byname  Frank Yang  
born Sept. 22, 1922, Hofei, Anhwei, China

      Chinese-born American theoretical physicist whose research with Tsung-Dao Lee (Lee, Tsung-Dao) showed that parity—the symmetry between physical phenomena occurring in right-handed and left-handed coordinate systems—is violated when certain elementary particles (subatomic particle) decay. Until this discovery it had been assumed by physicists that parity symmetry is as universal a law as the conservation of energy (energy, conservation of) or electric charge. This and other studies in particle physics earned Yang and Lee the Nobel Prize for Physics for 1957.

      Yang's father, Yang Ko-chuen (also known as Yang Wu-chih), was a professor of mathematics at Tsinghua University, near Peking. While still young, Yang read the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and adopted “Franklin” as his first name. After graduation from the Southwest Associated University, in K'unming, he took his B.Sc. in 1942 and his M.S. in 1944. On a fellowship, he studied in the United States, enrolling at the University of Chicago in 1946. He took his Ph.D. in nuclear physics with Edward Teller and then remained in Chicago for a year as an assistant to Enrico Fermi, the physicist who was probably the most influential in Yang's scientific development. Lee had also come to Chicago on a fellowship, and the two men began the collaboration that led eventually to their Nobel Prize work on parity. In 1949 Yang went to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., and became a professor there in 1955. He became a U.S. citizen in 1964.

      Almost from his earliest days as a physicist, Yang had made significant contributions to the theory of the weak interactions (weak force)—the forces long thought to cause elementary particles to disintegrate. (The strong forces that hold nuclei together and the electromagnetic forces that are responsible for chemical reactions are parity-conserving. Since these are the dominant forces in most physical processes, parity conservation appeared to be a valid physical law, and few physicists before 1955 questioned it.) By 1953 it was recognized that there was a fundamental paradox in this field since one of the newly discovered mesons—the so-called K meson—seemed to exhibit decay modes into configurations of differing parity. Since it was believed that parity had to be conserved, this led to a severe paradox.

      After exploring every conceivable alternative, Lee and Yang were forced to examine the experimental foundations of parity conservation itself. They discovered, in early 1956, that, contrary to what had been assumed, there was no experimental evidence against parity nonconservation in the weak interactions. The experiments that had been done, it turned out, simply had no bearing on the question. They suggested a set of experiments that would settle the matter, and, when these were carried out by several groups over the next year, large parity-violating effects were discovered. In addition, the experiments also showed that the symmetry between particle and antiparticle, known as charge conjugation symmetry (charge conjugation), is also broken by the weak decays. (See also CP violation.)

      In addition to his work on weak interactions, Yang, in collaboration with Lee and others, carried out important work in statistical mechanics—the study of systems with large numbers of particles—and later investigated the nature of elementary particle reactions at extremely high energies. From 1965 Yang was Albert Einstein professor at the Institute of Science, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Long Island. During the 1970s he was a member of the board of Rockefeller University and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and, from 1978, of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, San Diego. He was also on the board of Ben-Gurion University, Beersheba, Israel. He received the Einstein Award in 1957 and the Rumford Prize in 1980; in 1986 he received the Liberty Award and the National Medal of Science.

Jeremy Bernstein

Additional Reading
Jeremy Bernstein, A Comprehensible World (1967), is a collection of essays on modern science containing a profile of Lee and Yang first published in The New Yorker magazine; H.A. Boorse and L. Motz (eds.), The World of the Atom, vol. 2 (1966), is a collection of popular and semipopular papers on modern physics containing both biographical sketches of Lee and Yang and some of their popular essays. Yang's Selected Papers 1945–80 with Commentary (1983) includes personal memories, letters, and recollections of developments in theoretical physics since World War II.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Yang Chen Ning — noun United States physicist (born in China) who collaborated with Tsung Dao Lee in disproving the principle of conservation of parity (born in 1922) • Syn: ↑Chen N. Yang • Instance Hypernyms: ↑physicist * * * /yahng chen ning / born 1922,… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Yang Chen Ning — /yahng chen ning / born 1922, Chinese physicist in the U.S.: Nobel prize 1957. * * * …   Universalium

  • Yang , Chen Ning — (1922–) Chinese–American physicist Yang, who was born the son of a mathematics professor at Hefei in China, graduated from the National Southwest Associated University in Kunming and received an MSc from Tsinghua. A fellowship enabled him to… …   Scientists

  • Yang, Chen Ning — llamado Frank Yang (n. 22 sep. 1922, Hofei, Anhwei, China). Físico teórico estadounidense nacido en China. Emigró a EE.UU. en 1945 y estudió con Edward Teller en la Universidad de Chicago. Demostró que la paridad es transgredida cuando las… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Yang Chen Ning — [[t]ˈyɑŋ ˈtʃɛn ˈnɪŋ[/t]] n. big born 1922, Chinese physicist in the U.S …   From formal English to slang

  • Янг (Yang Chen Ning) — (Ян Чжэньнин) (р. 1922), физик теоретик. По происхождению китаец. С 1945 в США. Заложил (1954) основы современной теории калибровочных полей (теория Янга — Миллса). Совместно с Ли Цзундао в 1956 выдвинул гипотезу о несохранении чётности в… …   Большой Энциклопедический словарь

  • ЯНГ (Ян Чжэньнин) (Yang Chen Ning) — (Ян Чжэньнин) (Yang Chen Ning) (р. 1922), физик теоретик. По происхождению китаец. С 1945 в США. Заложил (1954) основы совр. теории калибровочных полей (теория Я. – Миллса). Совм. с Ли Цзундао в 1956 выдвинул гипотезу о несохранении чётности …   Биографический словарь

  • Chen Ning Yang — Chen Ning Yang (chinesisch  …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Chen Ning Yang — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Yáng (楊). Chen Ning Yang Chen Ning Yang Naissance 1er octobre 1922 Hefei …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Chen Ning Yang — This is a Chinese name; the family name is Yang (杨). Chen Ning Franklin Yang Born 1 October 1922 …   Wikipedia

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