Sidney Coleman

十一月 23, 2007 @ 1:33 上午 | 发表在 Memory deposit | 留下评论

Sidney Coleman, one of my favorite great theoretical physicists of all times, died on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2007. I never had the privilege to know him personally, but this is still a very sad news for me.

Thousands of physicists around the world learned from him either in person or (more) through his classic book on quantum field theory, aspects of symmetry

erice lecturer

from whose back cover he forever smiles at you. You can see that charming and witty smile every time you turn the book.

This is the book I would keep in the case I sold all other physics books, and I have sold many of those I once own lately. Those books become more and more boring as you learn, this one is the exact opposite.

Sidney Coleman made tremendous contributions to theoretical physics, some of the best known examples of his master pieces being, the Coleman-Mandula theorem, the Coleman-De Luccia bubble, the Coleman-Weinberg potential. These are, to this day, standard tools or guidelines in their respective fields of study.

Few had understood quantum field theory as deeply as he did, as testified by various physicists who knew him, including accounts by Jacques Distler, Lubos Motl and others in the blog sphere (or ball). Contrary to quite a many brilliant theorists, Sidney Coleman was also Ph.D. advisor to many brilliant field/string theorists, including a nobel laureate.

I always think of Sidney as the Zen master of theoretical physicist, a very powerful one, much more than many people who aspire to be so or who even write physics books with such titles :D. Yoda of physics, maybe not so appropriate an analogy.

On Sunday, I was actually turning through the pages about the bounce in Sidney’s book. Another celebrated theoretical physicist who also died on a Sunday recently (in my calendar/memory) was the nobel prize laureate Hans Bethe ( a student of Arnold Sommerfeld, I later learned from a more knowledgeable person on planet earth ).

The reason I remember that incident is that I was driving home with a friend that same Sunday evening, and he was telling me Cornell was preparing a conference to celebrate Hans’ 100 years birthday. Sadly he passed away before that could happen. The Sidney fest happened in 2005, and can be visited here.

<Incidentally, the Coleman-Mandula theorem heralded the discovery of supersymmetry, and supersymmetric quantum field theories, with the first example constructed by Julius Wess and Bruno Zumino ( and dubbed the Wess-Zumino model after them). Julius Wess, also a collaborator of Sidney Coleman, had passed away earlier this year.>


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