1 October 1922
Chih-Li Tu (杜致禮)
(m. 1950; died 2003)
Weng Fan (翁帆)
|Doctoral advisor||Edward Teller|
|Other academic advisors||Enrico Fermi|
|Doctoral students||Alexander Wu Chao|
Yang Chen-Ning or Chen-Ning Yang (Chinese: 杨振宁; pinyin: Yáng Zhènníng; born 1 October 1922), also known as C. N. Yang or by the English name Frank Yang, is a Chinese theoretical physicist who made significant contributions to statistical mechanics, integrable systems, gauge theory, and both particle physics and condensed matter physics. He and Tsung-Dao Lee received the 1957 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on parity non-conservation of weak interaction. The two proposed that one of the basic quantum-mechanics laws, the conservation of parity, is violated in the so-called weak nuclear reactions, those nuclear processes that result in the emission of beta or alpha particles. Yang is also well known for his collaboration with Robert Mills in developing non-abelian gauge theory, widely known as the Yang–Mills theory.
Yang was born in Hefei, Anhui, China; his father, Ko-Chuen Yang楊克純; 1896–1973), was a mathematician, and his mother, Meng Hwa Loh Yang (羅孟華), was a housewife. Yang attended elementary school and high school in Beijing, and in the autumn of 1937 his family moved to Hefei after the Japanese invaded China. In 1938 they moved to Kunming, Yunnan, where National Southwestern Associated University (Lianda), was located. In the same year, as a second year student, Yang passed the entrance examination and studied at Lianda. He received his bachelor's degree in 1942, with his thesis on the application of group theory to molecular spectra, under the supervision of Ta-You Wu. He continued to study graduate courses there for two years under the supervision of Wang Zhuxi, working on statistical mechanics. In 1944 he received his master's degree from Tsinghua University, which had moved to Kunming during the Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945). Yang was then awarded a scholarship from the Boxer Indemnity Scholarship Program, set up by the United States government using part of the money China had been forced to pay following the Boxer Rebellion. His departure for the United States was delayed for one year, during which time he taught in a middle school as a teacher and studied field theory.(
From 1946, Yang studied with Edward Teller (1908–2003) at the University of Chicago, where he received his doctorate in 1948. He remained at the University of Chicago for a year as an assistant to Enrico Fermi. In 1949 he was invited to do his research at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, where he began a period of fruitful collaboration with Tsung-Dao Lee. He was made a permanent member of the Institute in 1952, and full professor in 1955. In 1963, Princeton University Press published his textbook, Elementary Particles. In 1965 he moved to Stony Brook University, where he was named the Albert Einstein Professor of Physics and the first director of the newly founded Institute for Theoretical Physics. Today this institute is known as the C. N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics.
He retired from Stony Brook University in 1999, assuming the title Emeritus Professor. In 2010, Stony Brook University honored Yang's contributions to the university by naming its newest dormitory building C. N. Yang Hall.
He has been elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Academia Sinica, the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Royal Society. He was awarded honorary doctorate degrees by Princeton University (1958), Moscow State University (1992), and the Chinese University of Hong Kong (1997).
Yang visited the Chinese mainland in 1971 for the first time after the thaw in China–US relations, and has subsequently made great efforts to help the Chinese physics community rebuild the research atmosphere which was destroyed by the radical political movements during the Cultural Revolution. After retiring from Stony Brook he returned as an honorary director of Tsinghua University, Beijing, where he is the Huang Jibei-Lu Kaiqun Professor at the Center for Advanced Study (CASTU). He is also one of the two Shaw Prize Founding Members and is a Distinguished Professor-at-Large at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Yang married Chih-li Tu (pinyin: Dù Zhìlǐ), a teacher, in 1950 and has two sons and a daughter with her: Franklin Jr., Gilbert and Eulee. His father-in-law was the Kuomintang general Du Yuming. Some scholars suspect that Du was promoted to a high-ranking position in the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in order to convince Yang to return to China after seeking refuge in the US. Tu died in October 2003, but in December 2004 the then 82-year-old Yang caused controversy by marrying the then 28-year-old Weng Fan (pinyin: Wēng Fān).
|Quantum field theory|
|Standard Model of particle physics|
|Condensed matter physics|
|Phases · Phase transition · QCP|
Yang has worked on statistical mechanics, condensed matter theory, particle physics and gauge theory/quantum field theory.
At the University of Chicago, Yang first spent twenty months working in an accelerator lab, but he later found he was not as good as an experimentalist and switched back to theory. His doctoral thesis was about angular distribution in nuclear reactions. Later he worked on particle phenomenology; a well-known work was the Fermi–Yang model treating pion meson as a bound nucleon–anti-nucleon pair. In 1956, he and Tsung Dao (T.D.) Lee proposed that in the weak interaction the parity symmetry was not conserved, Chien-shiung Wu's team at the National Bureau of Standards in Washington experimentally verified the theory. Yang and Lee received the 1957 Nobel Prize in Physics for their parity violation theory, which brought revolutionary change to the field of particle physics. Yang has also worked on neutrino theory with Tsung Dao (T.D.) Lee, 1957, 1959, CT nonconservation (with Tsung Dao (T.D.) Lee and R. Oheme, 1957), electromagnetic interaction of vector mesons (with Tsung Dao (T.D.) Lee, 1962), CP nonconservation (with Wu Tai-Tsun, 1964).
Yang is also well known for his collaboration with Robert Mills in developing non-abelian gauge theory, widely known as the Yang–Mills theory. Subsequently, in the last three decades, many other prominent scientists have developed key breakthroughs to what is now known as gauge theory. In the 1970s Yang worked on the topological properties of gauge theory, collaborating with Wu Tai-Tsun to elucidate the Wu–Yang monopole. Unlike the Dirac monopole, it has no singular Dirac string. The theory set the template for the Standard Model and modern physics in general, as well as the work towards a Grand Unified Theory; it was called by The Scientist, "the foundation for current understanding of how subatomic particles interact, a contribution which has restructured modern physics and mathematics." The idea was generally conceived by Yang, and the novice scientist Mills assisted him in this endeavor as Mills said,
"During the academic year 1953-1954, Yang was a visitor to Brookhaven National Laboratory...I was at Brookhaven also...and was assigned to the same office as Yang. Yang, who has demonstrated on a number of occasions his generosity to physicists beginning their careers, told me about his idea of generalizing gauge invariance and we discussed it at some length...I was able to contribute something to the discussions, especially with regard to the quantization procedures, and to a small degree in working out the formalism; however, the key ideas were Yang's."
Yang has had a great interest in statistical mechanics since his undergraduate time. In the 1950s and 1960s, he collaborated with Tsung Dao (T.D.) Lee and Kerson Huang, etc. and studied statistical mechanics and condensed matter theory. He studied the theory of phase transition and elucidated the Lee–Yang circle theorem, properties of quantum boson liquid, two dimensional Ising model, flux quantization in superconductors (with N. Byers, 1961), and proposed the concept of Off-Diagonal Long-Range Order (ODLRO, 1962). In 1967, he found a consistent condition for a one dimensional factorized scattering many body system, the equation was later named the Yang–Baxter equation, it plays an important role in integrable models and has influenced several branches of physics and mathematics.
His birth date was erroneously recorded as September 22, 1922 in his 1945 passport. He has since used this incorrect date on all subsequent official documents.