Yang, Chen Ning

Yang, Chen Ning

(1922–  ) physicist; born in Hofei, China. The son of a mathematics professor, he came to the U.S.A. to study at the University of Chicago (1945). There he renewed his friendship with Tsung Dao Lee, whom he knew in China when the Japanese forced both men to change schools. Yang became a professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, N.J. (1949–66), regularly meeting with Lee, then a professor at Columbia University. Their conversations regarding particle spin variations on the "mirror symmetry," or parity law, brought the two to collaborate on research disproving the validity of a physical law formerly held inviolate. This breakthrough won Yang and Lee the 1957 Nobel Prize. Yang continued investigations into symmetry principles and statistical mechanics at the State University of New York: Stony Brook (1966). Calling himself "Frank" to Americans (in honor of Benjamin Franklin), he visited China annually to promote mutual understanding between Americans and Chinese.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Yang, Chen Ning


Born. Sept. 22, 1922, in Hofei, Anhwei Province. Chinese-American physicist.

An instructor at the University of Chicago in 1948 and 1949, Yang became a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., in 1949 and was named a professor at the institute in 1955. In 1966 he was appointed a professor and the director of the Institute for Nuclear Research at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Yang’s principal works deal with quantum field theory, particle theory, and the theory of phase transitions. In 1956, together with Tsung Dao Lee, he showed theoretically that conservation of parity might be violated in weak interactions (Nobel Prize, 1957). The two scientists suggested that nonconservation of parity could be seen in asymmetry of beta radiation relative to the direction of the spin of the emitting nucleus. Such asymmetry was experimentally observed in 1957 by the American physicist C.-S. Wu and her co-workers.

Yang has also made contributions to two-component neutrino theory, in collaboration with Lee and with R. Oehme, and to condensation theory, in collaboration with Lee. Yang has proved several theorems on the existence of a thermodynamic limit for partition functions.


In Russian translation:
“Vopros o sokhranenii chetnosti v slabykh vzaimodeistviiakh.” With T. D. Lee. In Novye svoistva simmetrii elementarnykh chastits. Moscow, 1957. (Translated from English.)
“Zamechaniia o vozmozhnoi neinvariantnosti otnositel’no izmeneniia znaka vremeni i zariadovogo sopriazheniia.” With T. D. Lee and R. Oehme. Ibid.
“Nesokhranenie chetnosti i teoriia dvukhkomponentnogo neitrino.” With T. D. Lee. Ibid.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.