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Lee, Tsung Dao

nuclear weak emission yang

(1926– ) Chinese–US theoretical physicist: demonstrated that parity is not conserved in the weak nuclear interaction.

Lee studied for his degree in China. His work was interrupted by the Japanese invasion during the Second World War; he fled to another province. In 1946 he won a grant to Chicago, studying astrophysics under ; work at Princeton (1951–3) and Columbia followed. He held a post at Columbia from 1956.

While the electromagnetic and strong nuclear interactions conserve parity (ie are identical in a mirror-image of the physical system) Lee and showed in 1956 that this is not so for the weak nuclear interaction. They deduced this extraordinary result, with far-reaching implications, by considering nuclear beta-decay (electron emission). They suggested a number of experiments, and in the ensuing months their conclusion was verified by . Lee and Yang also argued (1960) that the very light neutral particle called the neutrino produced in electron emission was different from the neutrino associated with muon emission. This was verified by experiment in 1961. In the same paper they predicted the existence of the Wboson as the heavy particle conveying the weak nuclear force, and this has since been shown experimentally. They also indicated the existence of neutral weak currents, first observed in 1973. Lee and Yang became the first Chinese to win a Nobel Prize, in 1957.

Leeuwenhoek, Antony van [next] [back] Lee, Sheldon "Spike" (1957–)

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