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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Frank Wilczek

Born May 15, 1951 (1951-05-15) (age 58)
Mineola, New York, U.S.
Nationality United States
Ethnicity Polish-Italian
Fields Physics
Institutions MIT
Alma mater University of Chicago
Princeton University
Doctoral advisor David Gross
Doctoral students Mark Alford (*)
Michael Forbes
Martin Greiter
Christoph Holzhey
David Kessler
Finn Larsen
Richard MacKenzie
John March-Russell (*)
Chetan Nayak
Maulik Parikh
Krishna Rajagopal
David Robertson
Sean Robinson
Alfred Shapere
Stephen Wandzura
(*): Jointly a Sidney Coleman student
Known for Quantum chromodynamics
Notable awards Lorentz Medal (2002)
Nobel Prize in Physics (2004)

Frank Anthony Wilczek (born May 15, 1951) is a theoretical physicist from the United States and a Nobel laureate. He is currently the Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Wilczek, along with David Gross and H. David Politzer, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2004 for their discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction.



Born in Mineola, New York, of Polish and Italian origin, Wilczek was educated in the public schools of Queens, attending Martin Van Buren High School.

He received his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics at the University of Chicago in 1970, a Master of Arts in Mathematics at Princeton University, 1972, and a Ph.D. in physics at Princeton University in 1974. Wilczek holds the Herman Feshbach Professorship of Physics at MIT Center for Theoretical Physics. He worked at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara.

He was awarded the Lorentz Medal in 2002. Wilczek won the Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society in 2003. In the same year he was awarded the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics Commemorative Medal from Charles University in Prague. He was the co-recipient of the 2003 High Energy and Particle Physics Prize of the European Physical Society. Wilczek was also the co-recipient of the 2005 King Faisal International Prize for Science.

He currently serves on the board for Society for Science & the Public.

Wilczek was married to Betsy Devine on July 3, 1973, and together have two daughters, Amity and Mira.

Wilczek has also appeared on an episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, where Penn referred to him as "the smartest person [they have] ever had on the show."


In 1973 Wilczek, a graduate student working with David Gross at Princeton University, discovered asymptotic freedom, which holds that the closer quarks are to each other, the less the strong interaction (or color charge) between them; when quarks are in extreme proximity, the nuclear force between them is so weak that they behave almost as free particles. The theory, which was independently discovered by H. David Politzer, was important for the development of quantum chromodynamics.

Wilczek has helped to reveal and develop axions, anyons, asymptotic freedom, the color superconducting phases of quark matter, and other aspects of quantum field theory. He has worked on an unusually wide range of topics, ranging across condensed matter physics, astrophysics, and particle physics.

Current research



For lay readers

  • 2008. The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0465003211.
  • 2007. La musica del vuoto. Roma: Di Renzo Editore.
  • 2006. Fantastic Realities: 49 Mind Journeys And a Trip to Stockholm. World Scientific. ISBN 978-9812566553.
  • 2002, "On the world's numerical recipe(an ode to physics)," Daedalus 131(1): 142-47.
  • 1989 (with Betsy Devine). Longing for the Harmonies: Themes and Variations from Modern Physics. W W Norton. ISBN 978-0393305968.


  • 1988. Geometric Phases in Physics.
  • 1990. Fractional Statistics and Anyon Superconductivity.

See also


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Frank Anthony Wilczek (born May 15, 1951) is an American physicist and Nobel laureate (2004).


  • An ordinary mistake is one that leads to a dead end, while a profound mistake is one that leads to progress. Anyone can make an ordinary mistake, but it takes a genius to make a profound mistake.
    • The Lightness of Being - Mass, Ether and the Unification of Forces, Basic Books 2008, chapter 1, p. 12
  • Knowing how to calculate something is not the same as understanding it. Having a computer to calculate the origin of mass for us may be convincing, but is not satisfying. Fortunately we can understand it too.
    • The Lightness of Being - Mass, Ether and the Unification of Forces, Basic Books 2008, Caption of chapter 10, p. 128
  • Quite undeservedly, the ether has acquired a bad name.

External links

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