Roman Jackiw

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Roman Jackiw in Budapest, 2013

Roman Wladimir Jackiw (/rˈmæn æˈkv/; born 8 November 1939) is a theoretical physicist and Dirac Medallist. Born in Lubliniec, Poland in 1939[1] to a Ukrainian family, the family later moved to Austria and Germany before settling in New York City when Jackiw was about 10.[2]


Jackiw earned his undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College and his PhD from Cornell University in 1966 under Hans Bethe and Kenneth Wilson. He was a professor at the MIT Center for Theoretical Physics from 1969 until his retirement. He still retains his affiliation in emeritus status in 2013.[3]

Jackiw is famous for the discovery of the so-called axial anomaly, also known as Adler–Bell–Jackiw anomaly, also known as the chiral anomaly. In 1969, Roman Jackiw and John Stewart Bell published their explanation, which was later expanded and clarified by Stephen L. Adler, of the (observed) decay of a neutral pion into two photons. This decay is forbidden by a symmetry of classical electrodynamics, but Bell and Jackiw showed that this symmetry cannot be preserved at the quantum level.

Their introduction of an "anomalous" term from quantum field theory required that the sum of the charges of the elementary fermions had to be zero. This work also gave important support to the color-theory of quarks. Jackiw is also known for Jackiw–Teitelboim gravity.

One of his sons is Stefan Jackiw, an American violinist. The other is Nicholas Jackiw, a software designer known for inventing The Geometer's Sketchpad. His daughter, Simone Ahlborn, is an educator at Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island.



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