Tsung-Dao Lee is a well-known Chinese-American physicist who shared the 1957 Nobel Prize in Physics with another physicist, Chen-Ning Franklin Yang, for their groundbreaking work on violations of the parity conservation principle. The duo proved theoretically that conservation of parity, one of quantum mechanics’ fundamental laws, is violated in nuclear reactions that result in the emission of alpha or beta particles, i.e. in weak nuclear reagents. The field of particle physics has been significantly altered and refined as a result of this finding. They came at the conclusion that tau-meson and theta-meson, formerly thought to be different particles due to their fading via modes of different parity, are actually the same particle (presently called K-meson). Chien-Shiung Wu, a fellow physicist, tested their theory in 1957 and found it to be correct. Lee is also notable for his work on non-topological solitons and soliton stars, relativistic heavy ion (RHIC) physics, and the Lee Model, in addition to parity violation. He is currently a University Professor Emeritus at ‘Columbia University,’ where he has taught for nearly six decades. He and Yang became the first Chinese Nobel Laureates, and he remained the youngest Nobel laureate since the Second World War until Malala Yousafzai was awarded the ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ in 2014. He is the youngest American to ever earn a Nobel Prize, having become a naturalized American citizen in 1962.
Childhood and Adolescence
Tsing-Kong Lee and Ming-Chang Chang had five sons and one daughter when he was born on November 24, 1926, in Shanghai, China. His father, a merchant and chemical entrepreneur, was one of the first graduates of the ‘University of Nanking.’
In Shanghai, Suzhou, and Jiangxi, he attended secondary schools. Because of the Second Sino-Japanese War, his high school career was disrupted, and he was unable to complete his secondary education.
He did, however, apply directly to ‘National Che Kiang University’ (now ‘Zhejiang University’) in 1943 and was accepted. He initially enrolled in the Chemical Engineering department, but his interest in physics grew over time. He transferred to the Physics department with the help of physics professors like Kan-Chang Wang and Shu Xingbei.
His studies were once again disrupted as a result of the Japanese invasion. In 1945, Lee began his studies at Kunming’s ‘National Southwestern Associated University,’ where he was advised by Professor Ta-You Wu.
Professor Ta-You Wu nominated him for a Chinese government fellowship to pursue doctoral studies in the United States. After completing his sophomore year at ‘National Southwestern Associated University,’ he travelled to the United States in 1946 and enrolled at the ‘University of Chicago,’ where he studied under Professor Enrico Fermi.
In 1950, he received his PhD from Professor Fermi, with a thesis titled “Hydrogen Content in White Dwarf Stars.”
He began his career in 1950 as a research associate and instructor in physics at the ‘University of California’ at Berkeley, where he remained until 1951. He also worked for a short time at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin’s ‘Yerkes Astronomical Observatory.’
He worked at Princeton’s ‘Institute for Advanced Study’ from 1951 to 1953. He ran into Chen-Ning Franklin Yang, whom he remembered from his Kunming days.
His scholarly efforts in astrophysics, statistical mechanics, elementary particles, condensed matter physics, field theory, and turbulence quickly earned him acclaim.
He was hired as an Assistant Professor at ‘Columbia University’ in 1953, when he began working on the renormalizable field theory model, also known as the ‘Lee Model.’ In 1955, he was promoted to Associate Professor and then Professor at the institution, making him the university’s youngest full professor ever. He left the company in 2012.
Even after leaving Princeton, he maintained a tight relationship with Yang and established a weekly meeting schedule, whether at Princeton or in New York City.
In 1956, Lee and Yang focused their efforts on the K-meson, a recently discovered subatomic particle. The particle, which looked to be separate, perplexed physicists because it decayed in two different schemes, leading to the discovery of two distinct forms of K-mesons: theta and tau.
Lee and Yang focused on the abundant experimental evidence suggesting theta and tau mesons were the same particle. The only issue that prevented confirmation of the two particles being similar was that they had opposite parity, with one having even parity and the other having odd parity.
In 1956, they decided after three weeks of extensive research that parity is breached in some sort of reagent. They discovered that conservation of parity is violated in weak nuclear events that result in the emission of alpha or beta particles, and they proposed that tau-meson and theta-meson are the same particles.
Because the law of parity conservation prevents a single particle from having decay modes with opposite parity, the only logical conclusion is that parity is violated, at least for weak interactions. They proposed a set of experiments to evaluate their idea.
A manuscript titled ‘Question of Parity Conservation in Weak Interactions’ was sent to the American peer-reviewed scientific publication ‘Physical Review’ on June 22, 1956, mentioning the key ingredients of the Lee-Yang theory.
Chien-Shiung Wu, one of their colleagues, validated their theory in 1957 by conducting experiments established by them after about six months, first at Columbia University and then at the National Bureau of Standards.
Lee’s other scientific contributions include founding the field of high energy neutrino physics with collaborators in the early 1960s; elucidating the KLN theorem with M. Nauenberg in 1964 that deals with divergences associated with particles of zero rest mass; establishing the field of non-topological solitons with collaborators in 1975, which led to his work on soliton stars and black holes in the 1980s and 1990s; and developing a new procedure with collaborators in the
Many of Lee’s publications on ‘A New Form of Matter in High Density’ were published in 1974-75, paving the way for the modern field of RHIC physics, which now dominates the subject of high energy nuclear physics.
From 1997 to 2003, he was the director of the ‘RIKEN-BNL Research Center,’ and since 2004, he has been the Director Emeritus.
Following the re-establishment of China-America relations with the PRC, he traveled to China with his wife, attending a number of seminars, giving lectures, and organizing the ‘China-US Physics Examination and Application’ (CUSPEA).
In 1998, he established the ‘Chun-Tsung Endowment’ in memory of his wife, which is overseen by the ‘United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia’ (New York), which awards Chun-Tsung scholarships to undergraduate students at six different universities.
He has nearly 300 scientific papers to his credit. He’s also the author of several books, including ‘Particle Physics and Introduction to Field Theory’ (1981) and ‘The Challenge from Physics’ (1986). (2002).
His memberships in the ‘National Academy of Sciences,’ the ‘American Academy of Arts and Sciences,’ the ‘Chinese Academy of Sciences,’ the ‘American Philosophical Society,’ and the ‘Third World Academy of Sciences,’ among others, remained unchanged.
Personal History and Legacy
He married Hui-Chung Chin on June 3, 1950, while they were both students at the ‘University of Chicago.’ In 1996, Hui-Chung Chin passed away. James and Stephen, their two sons, were born in 1952 and 1955, respectively.
Tsung Dao Lee Net worth
Tsung Dao Lee’s estimated net worth is $ USD 5 million, according to online sources (Wikipedia, Google Search, Yahoo Search). His primary sources of income include theoretical physicists, university teachers, and physicists.