He was born in Shanghai on November 25, 1926. He studied under Professor Ta-You Wu at the Southwest Associate University in Kunming, China. After his sophomore year, Lee was awarded a Chinese government fellowship for graduate study in the U.S. Lee entered the University of Chicago in 1946, and became a student of Professor Enrico Fermi. Under Fermi, Lee wrote two papers: one was on particle physics (with M. Rosenbluth and C.N. Yang), extending Fermi’s -decay theory to -decay and -capture, thereby establishing the universality of Fermi Interaction; and the other was on astrophysics establishing the upper bound (Chandrasekhar limit) of white dwarf stars to be the present accepted value of 1.4 solar mass instead of the previous value of 5.6 solar mass.

In 1953, Lee joined Columbia University, where he remains today. His first work at Columbia was on a solvable model of quantum field theory better known as the Lee Model. Soon, his focus turned to particle physics and the developing puzzle of K meson decays. Lee realized in early 1956 that the key to the puzzle was parity non-conservation. At Lee’s suggestion, the first experimental test was on hyperion decay by the Steinberger group. At that time, the experimental result gave only an indication of a 2 standard deviation effect of possible parity violation. Encouraged by this feasibility study, Lee made a systematic study of possible P, T, C, and CP violations in weak interactions with other collaborators, including C.N. Yang. After the definitive experimental confirmation by C.S. Wu and her collaborators of parity non-conservation, Lee and Yang were awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize for Physics.

In the early 1960’s, Lee and collaborators initiated the important field of high energy neutrino physics. In 1964, Lee, with M. Nauenberg, analyzed the divergences connected with particles of zero rest mass, and described a general method known as the KLN theorem for dealing with these divergences, which still plays an important role in contemporary work in QCD, with its massless, self-interacting gluons. In 1974-75, Lee published several papers on “A New Form of Matter in High Density”, which led to the modern field of RHIC physics, now dominating the entire high energy nuclear physics field.

Besides particle physics, Lee has been active in statistical mechanics, astrophysics, hydrodynamics, many body system, solid state, and lattice QCD. In 1983, Lee wrote a paper entitled, “Can Time Be a Discrete Dynamical Variable?”; which led to a series of publications by Lee and collaborators on the formulation of fundamental physics in terms of difference equations, but with exact invariance under continuous groups of translational and rotational transformations. Beginning in 1975, Lee and collaborators established the field of non-topological solitons, which led to his work on soliton stars and black holes throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Since 1997, Lee directed the RIKEN-BNL Research Center, which together with his Columbia group, completed in 1998 a 1 teraflops supercomputer QCDSP for lattice QCD. At present, a 10 teraflops QCDOC machine is under construction to be completed in 2004. Most recently, Lee and R. Friedberg have developed a new method to solve the Schroedinger Equation, leading to convergent iterative solutions for the long-standing quantum degenerate double-wall potential and other instanton problems.

Prof. Dr. Tsung-Dao Lee

- Nationality
- China
- Institution
- Columbia University New York
- Award
- 1957
- Discipline
- Physics
- Co-recipients
- Prof. Dr. Chen Ning Yang

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