Tsung-Dao Lee

Tsung-Dao Lee (T. D. Lee; Chinese: 李政道; pinyin: Lǐ Zhèngdào; born November 24, 1926) is a Chinese-American physicist, known for his work on parity violation, the Lee Model, particle physics, relativistic heavy ion (RHIC) physics, nontopological solitons and soliton stars. He holds the rank of University Professor Emeritus at Columbia University, where he has taught since 1953 and from which he retired in 2012.[1]

In 1957, Lee, at the age of 30, won the Nobel Prize in Physics with Franklin C N Yang[2] for their work on the violation of the parity law in weak interactions, which Chien-Shiung Wu experimentally verified in 1956, with her so-called Wu experiment.

Lee remains the youngest Nobel laureate in the science fields after World War II. He is the third youngest Nobel laureate in sciences in history after William L. Bragg (who won the prize at 25 with his father William H. Bragg in 1915) and Werner Heisenberg (who won in 1932 also at 30). Lee and Yang were the first Chinese laureates. Since he became a naturalized American citizen in 1962, Lee is also the youngest American ever to have won a Nobel Prize.

Tsung-Dao (T. D.) Lee
TD Lee
T. D. Lee, seen in 1956
Native name
李政道 (Lǐ Zhèngdào)
BornNovember 24, 1926 (age 92)
Alma materNational Che Kiang University in Guizhou Province (dropped out)
National Southwestern Associated University in Kunming (dropped out)
University of Chicago
Known forParity violation
Non-topological solitons
AwardsNobel Prize in Physics (1957)
Albert Einstein Award (1957)
Matteucci Medal (1995)
Scientific career
InstitutionsColumbia University
Institute for Advanced Study
University of California, Berkeley
ThesisHydrogen Content of White Dwarf Stars (1950)
Doctoral advisorEnrico Fermi
Doctoral studentsRichard M. Friedberg
Norman Christ
Tsung dao lee signature chinese
Tsung-Dao Lee



Lee was born in Shanghai, China, with his ancestral home in nearby Suzhou. His father Chun-kang Lee (李駿康; Lǐ Jùn-kāng), one of the first graduates of the University of Nanking, was a chemical industrialist and merchant who was involved in China's early development of modern synthesized fertilizer. Lee's grandfather Chong-tan Lee (李仲覃; Lǐ Zhòng-tán) was the first Chinese Methodist Episcopal senior pastor of St. John's Church in Suzhou (蘇州聖約翰堂).[3]

Lee has four brothers and one sister. Educator Robert C.T. Lee is one of T. D.'s brothers. Lee's mother Chang and brother Robert C. T. moved to Taiwan in the 1950s. They were jailed in Taiwan during the White Terror.

Early life

Lee received his secondary education in Shanghai (High School Affiliated to Soochow University, 東吳大學附屬中學) and Jiangxi (Jiangxi Joint High School, 江西聯合中學). Due to the Second Sino-Japanese war, Lee's high school education was interrupted, thus he did not obtain his secondary diploma. Nevertheless, in 1943, Lee directly applied to and was admitted by the National Che Kiang University (now Zhejiang University). Initially, Lee registered as a student in the Department of Chemical Engineering. Very quickly, Lee's talent was discovered and his interest in physics grew rapidly. Several physics professors, including Shu Xingbei and Wang Ganchang, largely guided Lee, and he soon transferred into the Department of Physics of National Che Kiang University, where he studied in 1943–1944.

However, again disrupted by a further Japanese invasion, Lee continued at the National Southwestern Associated University in Kunming the next year in 1945, where he studied with Professor Wu Ta-You.

Life and research in US

Professor Wu nominated Lee for a Chinese government fellowship for graduate study in US. In 1946, Lee went to the University of Chicago and was selected by Professor Enrico Fermi to become his PhD student. Lee received PhD under Fermi in 1950 for his research work Hydrogen Content of White Dwarf Stars. Lee served as research associate and lecturer in physics at the University of California at Berkeley from 1950 to 1951.[4]

Tsung-Dao Lee in 2006

In 1953, Lee joined Columbia University, where he remained until retirement. His first work at Columbia was on a solvable model of quantum field theory better known as the Lee Model. Soon, his focus turned to particle physics and the developing puzzle of K meson decays. Lee realized in early 1956 that the key to the puzzle was parity non-conservation. At Lee's suggestion, the first experimental test was on hyperion decay by the Steinberger group. At that time, the experimental result gave only an indication of a 2 standard deviation effect of possible parity violation. Encouraged by this feasibility study, Lee made a systematic study of possible P,T,C and CP violations in weak interactions with collaborators, including C. N. Yang. After the definitive experimental confirmation by C.S. Wu and her collaborators of parity non-conservation, Lee and Yang were awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize for Physics.

In the early 1960s, Lee and collaborators initiated the important field of high energy neutrino physics. In 1964, Lee, with M. Nauenberg, analyzed the divergences connected with particles of zero rest mass, and described a general method known as the KLN theorem for dealing with these divergences, which still plays an important role in contemporary work in QCD, with its massless, self-interacting gluons. In 1974–75, Lee published several papers on "A New Form of Matter in High Density", which led to the modern field of RHIC physics, now dominating the entire high energy nuclear physics field.

Besides particle physics, Lee has been active in statistical mechanics, astrophysics, hydrodynamics, many body system, solid state, lattice QCD. In 1983, Lee wrote a paper entitled, "Can Time Be a Discrete Dynamical Variable?"; which led to a series of publications by Lee and collaborators on the formulation of fundamental physics in terms of difference equations, but with exact invariance under continuous groups of translational and rotational transformations. Beginning in 1975, Lee and collaborators established the field of non-topological solitons, which led to his work on soliton stars and black holes throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

From 1997 to 2003 Lee was director of the RIKEN-BNL Research Center (now director emeritus), which together with other researchers from Columbia, completed a 1 teraflops supercomputer QCDSP for lattice QCD in 1998 and a 10 teraflops QCDOC machine in 2001. Most recently, Lee and Richard M. Friedberg have developed a new method to solve the Schrödinger Equation, leading to convergent iterative solutions for the long-standing quantum degenerate double-wall potential and other instanton problems. They have also done work on the neutrino mapping matrix.

Educational activities

Soon after the re-establishment of China-American relations with the PRC, Lee and his wife, Jeannette Hui-Chun Chin (秦惠䇹; Qín Huìjūn), were able to go to China, where Lee gave a series of lectures and seminars, and organized the CUSPEA (China-U.S. Physics Examination and Application).

In 1998, Lee established the Chun-Tsung Endowment (秦惠䇹—李政道中国大学生见习基金) in memory of his wife, who had died 3 years earlier. The Chun-Tsung scholarships, supervised by the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia (New York), are awarded to undergraduates, usually in their 2nd or 3rd year, at six universities, which are Shanghai Jiaotong University, Fudan University, Lanzhou University, Soochow University, Peking University and Taiwan National Tsing Hua University. Students selected for such scholarships are named "Chun-Tsung Scholars" (䇹政学者).

Personal life

Chin and Lee were married in 1950 and have two sons: James and Stephen.

Honours and awards



Technical Reports
  • Lee, T.D. (1981). Particle Physics and Introduction to Field Theory. Newark: Harwood Academic Publishers. ISBN 3-7186-0032-3.
  • Lee, T.D.; Feinberg, G. (1986). Selected Papers, Vols 13. Boston; Basel; Stuttgart: Birkhäuser. ISBN 0-8176-3344-8.
  • Lee, T.D. (1988). Ed. R. Novick: Thirty Year's Since Parity Nonconservation. Boston; Basel; Stuttgart: Birkhäuser. ISBN 0-8176-3375-8.
  • Lee, T.D. (1988). Symmetries, Asymmetries, and the World of Particles. Seattle: University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-295-96519-3.
  • Lee, T.D.; Ren, H. C.; Pang, Y. (1998). Selected Papers, 1985-1996. Amsterdam: Gordon and Breach. ISBN 90-5699-609-6.
  • Lee, T.D. (2000). Science and Art. Shanghai: Shanghai Scientific and Technical Publisher. ISBN 7-5323-5609-4.
  • Lee, T.D. (2002). The Challenge from Physics. Beijing: China Economics Publisher. ISBN 7-5017-5622-8.
  • Lee, T.D.; Cheng, Ji; Huaizu, Liu; Li, Teng (2004). Response to the Dispute of Discovery of Parity Violation (in Chinese). Lanzhou, Gansu: Gansu Science and Technology Publishing House. ISBN 7-5424-0929-8.

See also


  1. ^ Home | Columbia News Archived 2012-04-30 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1957". The Nobel Foundation. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
  3. ^ "Suzhou St. John Church". Archived from the original on 2015-07-13.
  4. ^ HowStuffWorks "Lee, Tsung Dao"

External links

Alberto Sirlin

Alberto Sirlin (born 25 November 1930, Buenos Aires) is an Argentine theoretical physicist, specializing in particle physics.Sirlin studied from 1948 to 1952 at the University of Buenos Aires, where he received his doctorate in 1953 under the supervision of Richard Gans. In 1953–1954 Sirlin was a fellow at the Centro Brasileiro de Pesquisas Físicas in Rio de Janeiro, where he took several graduate course, including one taught by Richard Feynman. Sirlin was in 1954–1955 at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and in 1955–1957 at the Cornell University, where in 1958 he received a doctorate under the supervision of Tōichirō Kinoshita. (Sirlin's Argentine doctorate was not accepted in the academic system of the USA.) From 1957 to 1959 he was a research assistant at Columbia University. At New York University he was from 1959 to 1961 an assistant professor, from 1961 to 1968 an associate professor, and from 1968 a full professor, retiring in 2008.Sirlin did research in the 1950s on radiative corrections in the theory of muon decay, i.e. higher-order corrections in the allowed weak interactions of quantum electrodynamics (QED). In 1960 Sirlin and Ralph E. Behrends discovered the nonrenormalization theorem for partially conserved vector currents in the SU(2) theory of weak interactions and suggested the theorem's generalization to higher symmetry. Their theorem plays an important role in experimentally verifying predictions from the Cabibbo-Kobayashi-Maskawa matrix. Beginning in the 1970s Sirlin did research with his student William J. Marciano on higher-order corrections in leptonic decays. With Tsung-Dao Lee und Richard M. Friedberg, Sirlin did research on non-topological soliton solutions in quantum field theory.Sirlin was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 1971. He was in the academic year 1983–1984 a Guggenheim Fellow and in 1997 received the Alexander von Humboldt Award. In 2002 Sirlin and William J. Marciano received the Sakurai Prize for their collaborative research on the theory of electroweak interactions.

Ancestral home (Chinese)

In Chinese culture, hometown or ancestral home (Chinese: 籍貫, 祖籍 or 老家; pinyin: jíguàn, zǔjí or lǎojiā) is the place of origin of one's extended family. It may or may not be the place where one is born.

For instance, physicists Tsung-Dao Lee (Nobelist, 1957) and Charles Kao (nobelist, 2009) were both born in Shanghai, but their hometowns are considered to be Suzhou and Jinshan, respectively.


CUSPEA (China-U.S. Physics Examination and Application) was an examination and admission system used by the physics departments of some American and Canadian universities for graduate school admission from People's Republic of China between 1979 and 1989.

It was created by the Chinese-American physicist Tsung-Dao Lee and Chinese physics community as an alternative graduate school admission procedure. At that time in China, higher education was still recovering from the Cultural Revolution; school transcripts and recommendation letters were difficult to evaluate. Furthermore, standardized tests such as the Graduate Record Examination were unavailable in China.

Columbia University Physics Department

The Columbia University Physics Department includes approximately 40 faculty members teaching and conducting research in the areas of astrophysics, high energy nuclear physics, high energy particle physics, atomic-molecular-optical physics, condensed matter physics, and theoretical physics.

This research is conducted in Pupin Hall and the Shapiro Center for Engineering and Physical Sciences Research (CEPSR), both on the university's Morningside Heights campus, Nevis Labs upstate, and at a number of other affiliated institutions. The department is connected with research conducted at Brookhaven National Laboratories and at CERN.

Columbia has approximately 20 undergraduate physics majors and is home to about 100 graduate students.

Dmitri Kharzeev

Dmitri E. Kharzeev (Russian: Дмитрий Эдуардович Харзéев; 6 September 1963) is a theoretical physicist working on quantum field theory, nuclear physics, and condensed matter physics. He is a Distinguished Professor and Director of Center for Quantum Materials at Stony Brook University, and the Head of RIKEN-BNL Theory group at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, New York.

Kharzeev was educated at Moscow State University. In 1986, he won the USSR Physics competition for students. After completing his PhD at Moscow State University in 1990, Kharzeev worked as a postdoc at Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics, Theory Division of CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, and Bielefeld University. In 1997, he became the first Fellow of the RIKEN-BNL Center at Brookhaven National Laboratory directed by Tsung-Dao Lee, a Nobel laureate. He then stayed at BNL, and in 2004 became the Head of Nuclear Theory group. In 2010 Kharzeev became a Professor of Physics at Stony Brook University, and in 2015 founded the Center for Quantum Materials.

His main contribution to quantum field theory is the chiral magnetic effect which finds its applications both in nuclear and condensed matter physics. In 2014, Kharzeev collaborated with a team of experimental physicists from BNL, Stony Brook, Princeton and Berkeley to discover the chiral magnetic effect in a Dirac semimetal ZrTe5; this result was published in Nature Physics.

Kharzeev's contributions to nuclear physics include the KLN (Kharzeev-Levin-Nardi) model of multi-particle production in high energy nuclear collisions, the theory of long-range forces in Quantum Chromodynamics, theory of baryon stopping, and a series of papers on anomaly-induced transport in systems with chiral fermions. He published over 200 papers, and his h-index is h=70 according to Google Scholar.

List of Chinese Nobel laureates

Since 1957, there have been eight Chinese (including Chinese-born) winners of the Nobel Prize. The Nobel Prize is a Sweden-based international monetary prize. The award was established by the 1895 will and estate of Swedish chemist and inventor Alfred Nobel. It was first awarded in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace in 1901. An associated prize, The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, was instituted by Sweden's central bank in 1968 and first awarded in 1969.

Following is a list of Nobel laureates who have been citizens of the Republic of China or the People's Republic of China and of overseas birth.

Matteucci Medal

The Matteucci Medal is an Italian award for physicists, named after Carlo Matteucci. It was established to award physicists for their fundamental contributions. Under an Italian Royal Decree dated July 10, 1870, the Italian Society of Sciences was authorized to receive a donation from Carlo Matteucci for the establishment of the Prize.

Matteucci MedalistsSource: Italian Society of Sciences

Nankai University

Nankai University (NKU or Nankai; simplified Chinese: 南开大学; traditional Chinese: 南開大學; pinyin: Nánkāi Dàxué) is a public research university located in Tianjin, China. It is a Chinese Ministry of Education Class A Double First Class University. It was founded in 1919, by educators Yan Xiu and Zhang Boling.

During the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), Nankai University, Peking University and Tsinghua University merged and formed the National Changsha Provisional University, which later moved to Kunming and was renamed the National Southwestern Associated University (西南联大). It was described as The North Star of Higher Learning. On December 25th, 2000, the State Ministry of Education signed an agreement with Tianjin Municipal Government to jointly establish and develop Nankai University. Since then, Nankai has been listed among the universities to receive priority development investments from the Chinese government in the twenty-first century.

Nankai has long been recognized as one of the most prestigious universities in China, constantly ranked among various top 10 lists of Chinese Universities. As a comprehensive university with a wide range of disciplines, Nankai features a balance between the humanities and the sciences, a solid foundation and a combination of application and creativity. The university has 26 academic colleges, together with the Graduate School, the School for Continuing Education, the Advanced Vocational School, the Modern Distance Education School, and categories covering literature, history, philosophy, economics, management, law, science, engineering, agriculture, medicine, teaching and art. The university is especially well-known for its economics, history, chemistry and mathematician researches and studies.

Nankai's alumni include the first Premier of the People's Republic of China Zhou Enlai, mathematician Shiing-Shen Chern and Nobel laureates Chen Ning Yang and Tsung-Dao Lee.

Norman Christ

Norman Howard Christ (; born 22 December 1943 in Pittsburgh) is a physicist and a professor at Columbia University, where he holds the Ephraim Gildor Professorship of Computational Theoretical Physics. He is notable for his research in Lattice QCD.

Shu Xingbei

Shu Xingbei (Chinese: 束星北; pinyin: Shù Xīngběi; October 1, 1905 - October 30, 1983), also known as Hsin Pei Soh, was a Chinese physicist and educator.

Special Class for the Gifted Young

The Special Class for the Gifted Young is a program aimed to select gifted young students to enter the universities in China. First established in 1978 at the University of Science and Technology of China, it was a major innovation in China's higher education. The idea was suggested by renowned scientists such as Tsung-Dao Lee, C. N. Yang, and Samuel C. C. Ting, and supported by the then Vice-premier of the State Council Fang Yi. The objective of the class is to explore the most efficient ways to nurture promising youth. Peking University, Tsinghua University, Nanjing University, Wuhan University, Jilin University and Huazhong University of Science and Technology also launched similar programs. But they were all shut down for all kinds of reasons. For now, only the University of Science and Technology of China and Xi'an Jiaotong University still have this program.

Stephen Lee (chemist)

Stephen Lee (Chinese: 李中漢; born 25 October 1955) is a Chinese-American chemist. He is the son of Tsung-Dao Lee, the winner of the 1957 Nobel Prize in Physics. He is currently a professor at Cornell University.

University of Washington Press

The University of Washington Press is an American academic publishing house. The organization is a division of the University of Washington, based in Seattle. Although the division functions autonomously, they have worked to assist the University's efforts in support of the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, and the Center for Innovation and Research in Graduate Education. Since 1915, they have published the works of first-time writers, including students, poets, and artists, along with authors known throughout the world for their work in the humanities, arts, and sciences.

While the day-to-day functions of the organization are carried out independent of the university, the imprint itself is managed by a committee of faculty members, who have been appointed by the university president. Each manuscript must go through a collaborative approval process overseen by the editors and the University Press Committee before being chosen for publication under the University of Washington Press imprint. Once a selection has been approved for publication, the organization begins the production process, which includes typesetting and copy editing, along with cover design and promotions. Rather than printing in-house, all composition, printing, and binding services are contracted through external facilities.

Approximately a third of the manuscripts published originate from within the university. The publishing house receives over 1,000 manuscripts and book proposals each year from throughout the world, with about seven percent approved for publication. Published titles include nonfiction works of history and culture, focusing on a variety of academic fields including Asian studies, Asian American studies, Middle Eastern studies, Western history, natural history, environmental studies, anthropology, biography, and fine art. As of 2013, over 4,400 books have been published, with over 1,400 remaining in print. Approximately 70 books are released on an annual basis. Among the books published by the Press are works by Nobel Prize laureates, including Tsung-Dao Lee.

Wu experiment

The Wu experiment was a nuclear physics experiment conducted in 1956 by the Chinese American physicist Chien-Shiung Wu in collaboration with the Low Temperature Group of the US National Bureau of Standards. The experiment's purpose was to establish whether or not conservation of parity (P-conservation), which was previously established in the electromagnetic and strong interactions, also applied to weak interactions. If P-conservation were true, a mirrored version of the world (where left is right and right is left) would behave as the mirror image of the current world. If P-conservation were violated, then it would be possible to distinguish between a mirrored version of the world and the mirror image of the current world.

The experiment established that conservation of parity was violated (P-violation) by the weak interaction. This result was not expected by the physics community, which had previously regarded parity as a conserved quantity. Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen-Ning Yang, the theoretical physicists who originated the idea of parity nonconservation and proposed the experiment, received the 1957 Nobel Prize in physics for this result. Chien-Shiung Wu’s role in the discovery was mentioned in the Nobel prize acceptance speech, but was not honored until 1978, when she was awarded the first Wolf Prize.

Yang Chen-Ning

Yang Chen-Ning or Yang Zhenning (Chinese: 杨振宁; born October 1, 1922) is a Chinese physicist who works on statistical mechanics and particle physics. He and Tsung-dao Lee received the 1957 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on parity nonconservation of weak interaction. The two proposed that one of the basic quantum-mechanics laws, the conservation of parity, is violated in the so-called weak nuclear reactions, those nuclear processes that result in the emission of beta or alpha particles. The most important work of Yang is Yang-Mills theory.

Ye Qisun

Ye Qisun (simplified Chinese: 叶企孙; traditional Chinese: 葉企孫; July 16, 1898 – January 3, 1977), also named Ye Hongjuan (叶鸿眷), was a renowned Chinese physicist and one of the founders of modern physics in China.

Yong Tan

Yong Tan is the Neal and Jan Dempsey Professor of Information Systems at the University of Washington Foster School of Business. He is the director of Center for Data Analytics at USTC-UW Institute for Global Business and Finance Innovation and proved instrumental in establishing the Institute with the University of Science and Technology in China (USTC), Tan’s alma mater. He was named a Chang Jiang Scholar by the Chinese Ministry of Education and Hong Kong Li Ka Shing Foundation, serving as a chair visiting professor at the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University. He is the 28th recipient of the INFORMS ISS Distinguished Fellow Award, the most prestigious award in information systems area that recognizes individual's' academic contribution. He has received the 2017 Best Paper Award in Information Systems from Management Science. Tan received the Best Publication Award from the Association of Information Systems..

Yong Tan received Bachelor of Science in Physics from University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) in 1987, and was selected as one of the 915 students in the elite CUSPEA program created by Nobel laureate Tsung-Dao Lee. Yong Tan received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Washington in 1993, advised by Nobel laureate David J. Thouless. He joined the Foster School faculty full-time after earning his Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of Washington in 2000, and Vijay Mookerjee was his doctoral advisor.

Zhejiang Institute of Modern Physics

Zhejiang Institute of Modern Physics (Traditional Chinese: 浙江大學近代物理中心, Simplified Chinese: 浙江近代物理中心) is a research center for theoretical physics. It is part of the Zhejiang University, People's Republic of China.

Standard Mandarin
Hanyu PinyinLǐ Zhèngdào
IPA[lì ʈʂə̂ŋ.tâu]
SuzhouneseLî Tsěn-dâu
Physiology or Medicine

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