Frank Wilczek (born May 15, 1951) is an American physicist of Polish origin. Along with Hugh David Politzer and David Gross, he was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics "for the discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction," to quote the citation by the Nobel Committee.
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--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, and other aspects of quantum field theory in general, and has researched condensed matter physics, astrophysics, and particle physics.
His current research includes:
- "pure" particle physics: connections between theoretical ideas and observable phenomena
- behavior of matter: ultra-high temperature, density, and phase structure
- application of particle physics to cosmology
- application of field theory techniques to condensed matter physics
- quantum theory of black holes
Born in New York City, New York, educated in public schools of New York, 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. Frank Wilczek is holds the Herman Feshbach Professorship of Physics at MIT. He worked at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara.
He married Betsy Devine on July 3, 1973; they have two children, Amity and Mira.
In early 2005, he appeared on an episode of Penn & Teller's Showtime skepticism program, Bullsh*t. The episode was about ghost hunters, and Dr. Wilczek was an expert used to refute paranornal pseudoscience.
See also: asymptotic freedom, coupling unification, Quantum chromodynamics, cosmology, neutron stars, stellar explosions, black holes, axions, dark matter, WIMPs, quantum numbers, solitons, statistical transmutation, fractional statistics, Hall effect