Chen Yang (1973) - The Structure of the Proton

Chen Yang (1973)

The Structure of the Proton

Chen Yang (1973)

The Structure of the Proton

Comment

When Chen Ning Yang and Tsung-Dao Lee received the 1957 Nobel Prize in Physics for their theoretical prediction of parity violation, they were still in their thirties and could look forward to long careers as theoretical physicists. They were both invited to Lindau for the physics meeting in 1959, but none of them accepted the invitation. When Yang gave the present lecture in 1973, it was his first visit to a Lindau Meeting and Lee didn’t lecture in Lindau until 1994. So for many generations of students and young researchers participating in the Lindau Meetings, Yang and Lee were only names on the long list of Nobel Laureates that did not accept the Lindau invitations, like Erwin Schrödinger, Richard Feynman and several others. So when Yang actually came in 1973, it was an event worth noting down. His lecture on the structure of the proton could also be given an alternative title, e.g., scattering theoretical description of proton-proton collisions. In the audience was Robert Hofstadter, who had received a Nobel Prize in Physics 1961 for his studies of electron scattering on atomic nuclei. Hofstadter had discovered that the proton has a charge distribution with Gaussian tails and this is the starting point for Yang in the first part of his lecture which describes results from experiments studying elastic scattering of high-energy protons on protons at Brookhaven and CERN. In particular the results from the Intersecting Storage Rings at CERN are referred to repeatedly. In 1973, the quark structure of the proton had not been accepted, but experiments that would eventually lead to the acceptance (and a Nobel Prize in Physics 1990 to Jerome Friedman, Henry Kendall and Richard Taylor) were ongoing. Yang shows himself as a master theoretician in managing to describe almost all aspects of proton-proton collisons in a general physical approximation which circumvents the need for massive detailed field-theoretical calculations.Anders Bárány

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