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Nobel Prize (2004)

Frank Wilczek

Born: 15 May 1951, New York, NY, USA

Prize motivation: "for the discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction"

Field: particle physics

Prize share: 1/3

Work: 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.

Frank Wilczek - Nobel Lecture

Asymptotic Freedom: From Paradox to Paradigm

Frank Wilczek held his Nobel Lecture December 8, 2004, at Aula Magna, Stockholm University. He was presented by Professor Sune Svanberg, Chairman of the Nobel Committee for Physics.

Summary: The idea that Quarks that are born free are confined and can't be pulled apart was once considered a paradox. The emerging theory for strong interactions, Quantum Chromo Dynamics (QCD) predicts the existence of gluons, which together with quarks can be seen indirectly as jets from hard scattering reactions between particles. Quantum Chromo Dynamics predicts that the forces between quarks are feeble for small separations but are powerful far away, which explains confinement. Many experiments have confirmed this property of the strong interaction.

Read the Nobel Lecture


Frank Wilczek - Prize Presentation

Watch a video clip of the 2004 Nobel Laureate in Physics, Frank Wilczek, receiving his Nobel Prize medal and diploma during the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony at the Concert Hall in Stockholm, Sweden, on 10 December 2004.

See a Video of the Event


Frank Wilczek - Interview

Interview, December 2004

Interview with two of the 2004 Nobel Laureates in Physics, David J. Gross and Frank Wilczek, 9 December 2004. The interviewer is Joanna Rose, science writer.

The Laureates talk about their discovery and the experiments behind it, the importance of formulating the right questions (9.46), problems still to be solved (11:27), their thoughts about string theory (13:49), and about being awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics (23:03).

See a Video of the Interview


20 min.

Frank Wilczek - Documentary

Nobel Laureates 2004 - Physics

A short documentary about the lives and work of the 2004 Nobel Laureates in Physics David J. Gross, H. David Politzer and Frank Wilczek, and their discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interactions. See the Video 'Nobel Laureates 2004' - about the Physics Laureates


8 min.

Frank Wilczek - Photo Gallery

Frank Wilczek receiving his Nobel Prize from His Majesty the King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden at the Stockholm Concert Hall, 10 December 2004.

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 2004 Photo: Hans Mehlin


Portrait of Frank Wilczek. Photo taken at the Rome Festival of Mathematics, 2008. Copyright © Patrizia Genovesi Kindly provided by Patrizia Genovesi

Frank Wilczek - Nobel Diploma

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 2004 Artist: Nils G. Stenqvist Calligrapher: Annika Rücker


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