Three share Nobel physics prize

Two Japanese and an American have won the 2008 Nobel Prize for discoveries in the world of subatomic physics, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced today.

American Yoichiro Nambu, of the University of Chicago, won half of the prize for the discovery of a mechanism called spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics.

Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa of Japan shared the other half of the prize for discovering the origin of the broken symmetry that predicts the existence of at least three families of quarks in nature.

“Spontaneous broken symmetry conceals nature’s order under an apparently jumbled surface,” the academy said in its citation.

“Nambu’s theories permeate the standard model of elementary particle physics. The model unifies the smallest building blocks of all matter and three of nature’s four forces in one single theory.”

Kobayashi and Maskawa “explained broken symmetry within the framework of the standard model but required that the model be extended to three families of quarks”.

The trio will share the €1m purse, a diploma and an invitation to the prize ceremonies in Stockholm on December 10.


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