Wigner, Eugene Paul

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Wigner, Eugene Paul

(wĭg`nər), 1902–95, American physicist, b. Hungary, grad. Technische Hochschule, Berlin, 1925. He was a professor at Princeton from 1930 to 1936 and again from 1938 to 1971. In 1937 he became a U.S. citizen. During World War II he worked on the Manhattan ProjectManhattan Project,
the wartime effort to design and build the first nuclear weapons (atomic bombs). With the discovery of fission in 1939, it became clear to scientists that certain radioactive materials could be used to make a bomb of unprecented power. U.S.
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, which resulted in the first atomic bomb. After beginning his association with the Atomic Energy Commission in 1947, he served as a member of its general advisory committee from 1952 to 1957 and from 1959 to 1964. He shared the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physics with U.S. physicist Maria Goeppert-MayerGoeppert-Mayer, Maria,
1906–72, German-American nuclear physicist, Ph.D. Univ. of Göttingen, 1930. She was a researcher at Johns Hopkins (1931–39), Columbia (1939–46), Argonne National Laboratory (1946–60), and the Univ.
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 and German physicist J. H. D. JensenJensen, Johannes Hans Daniel,
1907–73, German physicist, Ph.D. Univ. of Hamburg, 1932. Jensen was a professor at the Technical Univ. of Hanover from 1941 to 1949, when he joined the faculty at Heidelberg. He was named professor emeritus in 1969.
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 for work on the structure of the atomic nucleus. Wigner also received other major awards, including the National Science Medal and Atoms for Peace Award.

Wigner, Eugene Paul


Born Nov. 17, 1902, in Budapest. American theoretical physicist.

Wigner graduated from the Higher Technical School in Berlin in 1925. He taught there from 1928 to 1930 and then at Princeton University in the USA (professor from 1938). Wigner was one of the first to use the methods of group theory in atomic and nuclear problems. In 1936, together with G. Breit, he proposed a dispersion formula for nuclear reactions. Wigner also wrote fundamental works on the theory of particle dispersion and the theory of solid bodies.

From 1942 to 1945, Wigner took part in the development of the first nuclear reactor in Chicago (Manhattan Project). He wrote several works on the theory of nuclear reactors and the theory of the atomic nucleus. A member of the Atomic Energy Commission of the USA (1952-57 and 1959-64), he received the Atoms for Peace prize in 1960. He was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1963 for his work on the symmetry of the quantum theory.


Gruppentheorie … . Braunschweig, 1931.
The Physical Theory of Neutron Chain Reactors. Chicago, 1958.(With A. M. Weinberg.)
Nuclear Structure. London, 1958. (With L. Eisenbud.)
Symmetries and Reflections. [London] 1967.