Samuel Chao Chung Ting
|Born||January 27, 1936|
Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Michigan (dual BSE, PhD)|
|Known for||Discovery of the J/ψ particle|
Founder of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer experiment
|Spouse(s)||Kay Kuhne (divorced)|
|Awards||Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award (1975)|
Nobel Prize for Physics (1976)
Eringen Medal (1977)
De Gasperi Award (1988)
Gold Medal for Science from Brescia (1988)
NASA Public Service Medal (2001)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Samuel Chao Chung Ting (Chinese: 丁肇中; pinyin: Dīng Zhàozhōng, born January 27, 1936) is a Chinese-American physicist who, with Burton Richter, received the Nobel Prize in 1976 for discovering the subatomic J/ψ particle. More recently he has been the principal investigator in research conducted with the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a device installed on the International Space Station in 2011.
Ting was born to Chinese parents both from Ju County, Shandong province on January 27, 1936, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His parents, Kuan-hai Ting and Tsun-ying Wong, met and married as graduate students at the University of Michigan.
Ting's parents returned to China two months after his birth where Ting was homeschooled by his parents throughout WWII. After the communist takeover of the mainland that forced the nationalist government to flee to Taiwan, Ting moved to the island in 1949. He would live in Taiwan from 1949 to 1956 and conducted most of his formal schooling there. His father started to teach engineering and his mother would teach psychology at National Taiwan University (NTU). Ting attended and finished Middle School in Taiwan.
In 1956, Ting, who barely spoke English, returned to the United States at the age of 20 and attended the University of Michigan. There, he studied engineering, mathematics, and physics. He received Bachelor of Science in Engineering degrees in mathematics and in physics in 1959 and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in physics in 1962.
In 1963, Ting worked at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). From 1965, he taught at Columbia University in the City of New York and worked at the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) in Germany. Since 1969, Ting has been a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Ting received the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award in 1976, Nobel Prize in Physics in 1976, Eringen Medal in 1977, DeGaspari Award in Science from the Government of Italy in 1988, Gold Medal for Science from Brescia, Italy in 1988, and the NASA Public Service Medal in 2001.
Main article: J/ψ meson
In 1976, Ting was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, which he shared with Burton Richter of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, for the discovery of the J/ψ meson nuclear particle. They were chosen for the award, in the words of the Nobel committee, "for their pioneering work in the discovery of a heavy elementary particle of a new kind." The discovery was made in 1974 when Ting was heading a research team at MIT exploring new regimes of high energy particle physics.
Ting gave his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in Mandarin. Although there had been Chinese Nobel Prize recipients before (Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen Ning Yang), none had previously delivered the acceptance speech in Chinese. In his Nobel banquet speech, Ting emphasized the importance of experimental work:
Main article: Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer
In 1995, not long after the cancellation of the Superconducting Super Collider project had severely reduced the possibilities for experimental high-energy physics on Earth, Ting proposed the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a space-borne cosmic-ray detector. The proposal was accepted and he became the principal investigator and has been directing the development since then. A prototype, AMS-01, was flown and tested on Space Shuttle mission STS-91 in 1998. The main mission, AMS-02, was then planned for launch by the Shuttle and mounting on the International Space Station.
This project is a massive $2 billion undertaking involving 500 scientists from 56 institutions and 16 countries. After the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, NASA announced that the Shuttle was to be retired by 2010 and that AMS-02 was not on the manifest of any of the remaining Shuttle flights. Dr. Ting was forced to (successfully) lobby the United States Congress and the public to secure an additional Shuttle flight dedicated to this project. Also during this time, Ting had to deal with numerous technical problems in fabricating and qualifying the large, extremely sensitive and delicate detector module for space. AMS-02 was successfully launched on Shuttle mission STS-134 on May 16, 2011, and was installed on the International Space Station on May 19, 2011.
Ting lived in a turbulent age during his childhood and his family was a big influence on him. In his biographical for the Nobel Prize, he recalled:
Ting is the eldest son of his family. He has one brother, Ting Chao-hua (丁肇華) and one sister, Ting Chao-min (丁肇民). In an interview with China Central Television, he explained that the combination of his siblings' and his name is the first three characters of "中華民國" (Republic of China). His parents named them after the country to commemorate their grandfather, who was a martyr in the Xinhai Revolution.
In 1960, Ting married Kay Louise Kuhne, an architect, and together they had two daughters, Jeanne Ting Chowning and Amy Ting. In 1985 he married Dr. Susan Carol Marks, and they had one son, Christopher, born in 1986.