Nobel Prize Award for Physics 1956 - 1960

About the winners of the Nobel Prize for physics from 1956 to 1960 including Shockley, Chamberlain, Cherenkov, what they won for, as well as behind the scenes information on the decision.

1956 John Bardeen (1908- ), American.

Walter H. Brattain (1902- ), American.

William B. Shockley (1910- ), American (b. England). Work: Developing the transistor.

Behind the Award--Bardeen heard the news about the award on the radio as he was making scrambled eggs. "He dropped the pan," his daughter said. Shockley, one of the other prizewinners, left Bell Laboratories shortly after he received the award and started his own company. This enterprise failed, partly because of friction between Shockley and his assistants. Shockley admitted he was not a good administrator. In 1963, he took an endowed chair as professor of engineering science at Stanford University and 2 years later began to talk about his views on heredity. These views, in which he has advocated voluntary sterilization of those with low IQs, have caused great controversy, partly because he based them on studies in which blacks were reported to score lower than whites on intelligence tests. Radicals and liberals have opposed his stand bitterly.

1957 Tsung-Dao Lee (1926- ), American (b. China).

Chen Ning Yang (1922- ), American (b. China). Work: Disproving the law of parity conservation in nuclear physics.

Behind the Award--Yang and Lee won their prize shortly after they had made their discovery. A Western acupuncturist, Dr. Nguy, gen Van Nghi of Marseilles, said in a book that the 2 scientists based their work on the theory and laws of yin and yang, guiding principles of Chinese philosophy.

1958 Pavel A. Cherenkov (1904- ), Russian.

Ilya M. Frank (1908- ), Russian.

Igor Y. Tamm (1895-1971), Russian.

Work: Discovery of the Cherenkov effect.

1959 Emilio G. Segre (1905- ), American (b. Italy).

Owen Chamberlain (1920- ), American. Work: Discovering the antiproton.

Behind the Award--In 1972, Oreste Piccioni, a physics professor at the University of California, San Diego, brought a $125,000 suit against Chamberlain and Segre, claiming that he had been responsible for originating the research that won them the prize. He said that he was not allowed to join the staff at the Berkeley laboratory where the 2 worked because of security regulations. (He was not a citizen and had been associated with Socialist causes in Italy.)

Therefore, he went to Segre and Chamberlain with his idea, asking them to perform the experiment. They did, he said, and they won the prize for it. When asked why he had waited so long to bring suit, he said that when he brought up the matter earlier, they had promised him favors in exchange for his silence. Though other scientists have complained that the prize has been given unfairly, this was the 1st civil court case over a Nobel Prize.

1960 Donald A. Glaser (1926- ), American. Work: Invention of a bubble chamber for the study of subatomic particles.

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