Hugh David Politzer
|Alma mater||University of Michigan|
|Known for||Quantum chromodynamics, asymptotic freedom|
|Awards||Nobel Prize in Physics (2004)|
|Institutions||California Institute of Technology|
|Doctoral advisor||Sidney Coleman|
|Doctoral students||Stephen Wolfram|
Hugh David Politzer (//; born August 31, 1949) is an American theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. He shared the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics with David Gross and Frank Wilczek for their discovery of asymptotic freedom in quantum chromodynamics.
Politzer was born in New York City. His parents, Alan and Valerie Politzer, both from Czechoslovakia, immigrated to the U.S. after World War II and were both doctors. He graduated from the Bronx High School of Science in 1966, received his bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan in 1969, and his PhD in 1974 from Harvard University, where his graduate advisor was Sidney Coleman.
In his first published article, which appeared in 1973, Politzer described the phenomenon of asymptotic freedom: the closer quarks are to each other, the weaker the strong interaction will be between them. When quarks are in extreme proximity, the nuclear force between them is so weak that they behave almost like free particles. This result—independently discovered at around the same time by Gross and Wilczek at Princeton University—was extremely important in the development of quantum chromodynamics. With Thomas Appelquist, Politzer also played a central role in predicting the existence of "charmonium", a subatomic particle formed of a charm quark and a charm antiquark.
Politzer was a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows from 1974 to 1977 before moving to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where he is currently professor of theoretical physics. In 1989, he appeared in a minor role in the movie Fat Man and Little Boy, as Manhattan Project physicist Robert Serber. The Nobel Prize in Physics 2004 was awarded jointly to David J. Gross, H. David Politzer and Frank Wilczek "for the discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction."
Politzer played a role in the 1989 movie "Fat Man and Little Boy", about the Manhattan project.