Yoichiro Nambu

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Yoichiro Nambu
南部 陽一郎
Born (1921-01-18)18 January 1921
Tokyo, Japan
Died 5 July 2015(2015-07-05) (aged 94)
Toyonaka, Osaka, Japan
Citizenship United States (1970-2015)
Fields Physics
Institutions University of Tokyo (1942–49)
Osaka City University (1949–52)
Institute for Advanced Study (1952–54)
University of Chicago (1954– 2015)
Alma mater Tokyo Imperial University
Known for Spontaneous symmetry breaking
Notable awards Heineman Prize (1970)
Order of Culture of Japan (1978)
US National Medal of Science (1982)
Dirac Medal (1986)
J.J. Sakurai Prize (1994)
Wolf Prize in Physics (1994/1995)
Pomeranchuk Prize (2007)
Nobel Prize in Physics (2008)

Yoichiro Nambu (南部 陽一郎 Nanbu Yōichirō?, 18 January 1921 – 5 July 2015) was a Japanese-born American physicist, a professor at the University of Chicago.[1] Known for his contributions to the field of theoretical physics, he was awarded half of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2008 for the discovery in 1960 of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics, related at first to the strong interaction's chiral symmetry and later to the electroweak interaction and Higgs mechanism.[2] The other half was split equally between Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa "for the discovery of the origin of the broken symmetry which predicts the existence of at least three families of quarks in nature."[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Nambu was born in Tokyo, Japan, in 1921. After graduating from the then Fukui Secondary High School in Fukui City, he enrolled in the Imperial University of Tokyo and studied physics. He received his Bachelor of Science in 1942 and Doctorate of Science in 1952.[2] In 1949 he was appointed to associate professor at the Osaka City University[3] and promoted to professorship the next year at the age of 29.[2]

In 1952, he was invited by the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, United States, to study. He moved to the University of Chicago in 1954 and was promoted to professor in 1958.[4] From 1974 to 1977 he was also Chairman of the Department of Physics.[5] He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1970.[6]

Career in physics[edit]

Nambu and associates in 1996

Nambu proposed the "color charge" of quantum chromodynamics,[7] having done early work on spontaneous symmetry breaking in particle physics,[8] and having discovered that the dual resonance model could be explained as a quantum mechanical theory of strings.[9] He was accounted as one of the founders of string theory.[10]

After more than fifty years as a professor, he was Henry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor emeritus at the University of Chicago's Department of Physics and Enrico Fermi Institute.[11][12]

The Nambu-Goto action in string theory is named after Nambu and Tetsuo Goto. Also, massless bosons arising in field theories with spontaneous symmetry breaking are sometimes referred to as Nambu–Goldstone bosons.[13][14]

Honors and awards[edit]

Nambu had won numerous honors and awards including the Dannie Heineman Prize (1970), the J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize (1977),[15][16] Japan's Order of Culture (1978), the U.S.'s National Medal of Science (1982), the Max Planck Medal (1985), the Dirac Prize (1986), the Sakurai Prize (1994), the Wolf Prize in Physics (1994/1995), and the Franklin Institute's Benjamin Franklin Medal (2005).[3][17] He was awarded one-half of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics "for the discovery of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics".[2][18][19]


Nambu died on 5 July 2015 at the age of 94 in Osaka due to an acute myocardial infarction.[20][21] His funeral and memorial services were held among close relatives.[20]


  1. ^ "2008年ノーベル物理学賞受賞の南部陽一郎 大阪大学特別栄誉教授がご逝去されました". Osaka University. 17 July 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Nambu, Yoichiro (2008). Karl Grandin, ed. "Les Prix Nobel – The Nobel Prizes 2008". Stockholm: The Nobel Foundation. Archived from the original on 11 October 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Hatsuda, Tetsuo. "Notable Alumni: Yoichiro Nambu". University of Tokyo. Archived from the original on 19 July 2015. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  4. ^ Chicago Tribune (October 8, 2008) "University of Chicago physicist Yoichiro Nambu wins Nobel Prize"
  5. ^ Grimes, William (17 July 2015), "Yoichiro Nambu, Nobel-Winning Physicist, Dies at 94", The New York Times 
  6. ^ Matt Moore; Karl Ritter; Mari Yamaguchi & Herbert G. McCann (7 October 2008). "Chicago Professor Shares Nobel Prize In Physics". NPR. Associated Press. 
  7. ^ Serway, Raymond; Moses, Clement; Moyer, Curt (2004). "Elementary Particles". Modern Physics (3rd ed.). Thomson Learning. p. 577. Retrieved 19 July 2015 – via Google Books. 
  8. ^ Xing, Zhizhong; Shun Zhou (2011). "Neutrinos within the Standard Model". Neutrinos in Particle Physics, Astronomy and Cosmology. Zhejiang University Press. p. 23. Retrieved 19 July 2015 – via Google Books. 
  9. ^ Pesic, Peter (2014). "Unheard Harmonies". Music and the Making of Modern Science. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press. Retrieved 19 July 2015 – via Google Books. 
  10. ^ Jones, Andrew Zimmerman; Robbins, Daniel (2010). "Ten Notable String Theorists". String Theory for Dummies. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley Publishing. p. 347. Retrieved 19 July 2015 – via Google Books. 
  11. ^ "Yoichiro Nambu". The University of Chicago. Archived from the original on 6 September 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  12. ^ Narins, Brigham (2001). Notable Scientists from 1900 to the Present: N-S. Gale Group. p. 1613. 
  13. ^ Y. Nambu and G. Jona-Lasinio, Phys. Rev. 122, 345–358 (1961) doi:10.1103/PhysRev.122.345
  14. ^ Y. Nambu and G. Jona-Lasinio, Phys. Rev. 124, 246–254 (1961) doi: 10.1103/PhysRev.124.246
  15. ^ Walter, Claire (1982). Winners, the blue ribbon encyclopedia of awards. Facts on File Inc. p. 438. ISBN 9780871963864. 
  16. ^ "J. Robert Oppenheimer Prize awarded to Yoichiro Nambu". Physics Today (American Institute of Physics). March 1976. doi:10.1063/1.3023388. Retrieved 1 March 2015. 
  17. ^ "Yoichiro Nambu". Franklin Institute. April 2005. Archived from the original on May 14, 2015. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  18. ^ Jonathan Amos (7 October 2008). "Cosmic imperfections celebrated". BBC. 
  19. ^ Pollard, Niklas (7 October 2008). "Two Japanese, American win 2008 physics Nobel". Reuters. 
  20. ^ a b "南部陽一郎 大阪大学特別栄誉教授のご逝去について". 大阪大学. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  21. ^ "Nobel laureate in physics, Yoichiro Nambu dies at 94". La Prensa de San Antonio. EFE. 17 July 2015. Retrieved 18 July 2015. 

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