MOSCOW: American physicist of Japanese origin Yoichiro Nambu received the 2008 Nobel Prize for a discovery made by a Russian scientist, rector of Russia’s top university claimed.
The Nobel Foundation credited Mr. Nambu with “the discovery of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics.” The discovery “gives us a deeper understanding of what happens far inside the tiniest building blocks of matter”.
However, Viktor Sadovnichy, rector of Moscow State University (MGU), says the discovery belongs to eminent Soviet theoretical physicist and mathematician Nikolai Bogolyubov, who died in 1992 (his name is often spelt in the West as Nicolai Bogoliubov).
Mr. Sadovnichy said Mr. Nambu borrowed Bogolyubov’s ideas when he attended his lectures at MGU and in the U.S. in 1960.
Later the same year, Mr. Nambu read his own paper on the subject, with Bogolyubov making corrections and suggestions. Shortly afterwards, he published his paper but made no acknowledgement to Bogolyubov, said Mr. Sadovnichy.
After winning the Nobel Prize, Mr. Nambu again failed to mention Bogolyubov’s contribution, saying he had found the concept of spontaneous symmetry breaking while studying superconductivity in the early 1960s.
Dr. N.N. Achasov, a leading Russian expert in light hadron physics, called Bogolyubov “the pioneer of spontaneous breaking of symmetry in quantum physics.” Bogolyubov, who created and headed a theoretical physics laboratory at the famed Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, missed a chance to win a Nobel Prize during his lifetime. He was struck off the 1974 nomination list after the Soviet Communist Party mouthpiece, Pravda, carried a letter denouncing academician Andrei Sakharov as a “traitor.” Bogolyubov’s name was among signatories, though his son says he never signed it.
In 2004, the Nobel Prize in Physics went to three U.S. scientists “for the discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction.”
The theory was first developed by Bogolyobov and two other Soviet physicists, but their work was under a secret military programme and could not be nominated for the Prize, said Bogolyubov’s son.
6 months ago