Frank Wilczek is a theoretical physicist, author, and intellectual adventurer. He has received many prizes for his work, including a Nobel Prize in Physics.
Wilczek has made seminal contributions to fundamental particle physics, cosmology and the physics of materials. His current research focus includes Axions, Anyons, and Time Crystals. These are concepts in physics which he named and pioneered. Each has become a major focus of world-wide research.
In recent years Frank has become fascinated with prospects for expanding perception through technology. He is developing hardware and software tools for this.
He has authored several well-known books, and writes a monthly "Wilczek's Universe" feature for the Wall Street Journal. His latest book, “Fundamentals”, will be released in January 2021.
Wilczek received a B.S. at the University of Chicago in 1970, and a PhD in physics at Princeton University in 1974. Currently he is the Herman Feshbach professor of physics at the MIT; Founding Director of the T. D. Lee Institute and Chief Scientist at Wilczek Quantum Center, Shanghai Jiao Tong University; Distinguished Professor at Arizona State University; and Professor at Stockholm University.
He has been married to Betsy Devine since 1973. They have two daughters, Amity and Mira.
Professor Wilczek's professional work has touched on a large variety of questions in theoretical physics. Abiding interests include:
- "Pure" particle physics, especially connections between ambitious theoretical ideas and concrete observable phenomena (e.g. applications of asymptotic freedom, unification of couplings);
- The behavior of matter at ultra-high temperature and/or density (e.g. phase structure of QCD, application to cosmology, neutron stars and stellar explosions);
- The application of insights from particle physics to cosmology (e.g. axions as dark matter candidates, search techniques for these and for WIMPs);
- The application of field theory techniques to condensed matter physics (e.g.exotic quantum numbers on solitons of various sorts, statistical transmutation and fractional statistics in the quantum Hall effect);
- The quantum theory of black holes (e.g. existence of quantum hair, entanglement entropy)
In 2004, Frank Wilczek won the Nobel Prize for the discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction.
The atomic nucleus is held together by a powerful, strong interaction that binds together the protons and neutrons that comprise the nucleus. The strong interaction also holds together the quarks that make up protons and neutrons. This interaction is so strong that no free quarks have ever been observed. However, in 1973 Frank Wilczek, David Gross, and David Politzer came up with a theory postulating that when quarks come really close to one another, the attraction abates and they behave like free particles. This is called asymptotic freedom.