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Wu Ta-You

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Wu Ta-You
Born27 September 1907
Died4 March 2000(2000-03-04) (aged 92)
NationalityRepublic of China
Alma materNankai University (UG)
University of Michigan (MS, PhD)
Scientific career
FieldsNuclear physics
Atomic physics
Notable studentsChen Ning Yang
Tsung-Dao Lee

Wu Ta-You (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Wú Dàyóu) (27 September 1907 – 4 March 2000) was a Chinese physicist and writer who worked in the United States, Canada, mainland China and Taiwan. He has been called the Father of Chinese Physics.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Wu was born in Panyu, Guangzhou (Canton) in the last years of the Qing dynasty. In 1929 he took his undergraduate degree at Nankai University in Tianjin (Tientsin). He moved to the United States for graduate schooling and obtained a Doctor of Philosophy Degree from the University of Michigan in 1933.


Wu returned to China (then Republic of China) after receiving his doctorate degree, and between 1934 and 1949 he taught at various institutions there, including Peking University in Beijing, and National Southwestern Associated University in Kunming. After the communists defeated the Nationalists in the Chinese Civil War in 1949, Wu moved to Canada.

There he headed the Theoretical Physics Division of the National Research Council until 1963. In the 1960s, he was Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University at Buffalo. After 1962, he held various positions in Taiwan (Republic of China), including the President of the Academia Sinica (1983–1994). He continued lecturing into his 90s and died on March 4, 2000.

Wu's PhD dissertation dealt with theoretical predictions of the chemical properties of the yet undiscovered transuranic elements of the actinide series, which includes such well known elements as plutonium and americium. Later in his career, he worked on solid-state physics, molecular physics, statistical physics and other areas of theoretical physics. He was known as a teacher as much as a theoretician. His many illustrious students include Chen Ning Yang and Tsung-Dao Lee, co-winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1957.

Wu wrote several books, best known of which are the monograph Vibrational Spectra and Structure of Polyatomic Molecules (1939) and the graduate level textbooks Quantum Mechanics (1986) and (as co-author) Relativistic Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Fields (1991).

Awards and honors[edit]


  1. ^ a b "256892 Wutayou (2008 DW40)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  2. ^ Ta-You Wu Lecture Archived 2015-06-02 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "MPC/MPO/MPS Archive". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 4 September 2019.

External links[edit]