Wigner, Eugene P.

Wigner, Eugene P. (Paul)

(1902–  ) physicist; born in Budapest, Hungary. He taught and performed research in Germany (1926–30), then emigrated to the U.S.A. (1930). He taught at Princeton (1930–36), spent a year at the University of Wisconsin, then returned to Princeton (1938–71). While his earlier research concentrated on rates of chemical reactions, the theory of metallic cohesion, and group theory in quantum mechanics, he later focused on nuclear structure, including studies of nuclear resonance, electron spin, and the mirror nuclides now known as Wigner nuclides (one of several atomic phenomena given his name). Taking leave from Princeton (1942–45), he joined Enrico Fermi in Chicago, where his calculations were essential to the design of the first atomic bomb. After World War II, Wigner became an advocate of nuclear arms control. He won the 1963 Nobel Prize for his many contributions to nuclear physics and elementary particles. After retiring, he continued his interest in the effect of nuclear technology on society.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.