Politzer, H. David

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POLITZER, H. DAVID (1949– ), U.S. physicist and Nobel laureate. He was born in New York City and educated at the Bronx High School of Science. He gained his B.S. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (1969), and his Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University (1974) under the direction of Sidney Coleman. He joined the physics department of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, in 1975 where he became professor (1979) and head of department (1986–88). His research in theoretical particle physics was essential to the discovery of asymptotic freedom, the phenomenon in which the strong force binding quarks together increases when quarks move apart and decreases when they move closer together. This finding was influential in establishing the field of quantum chromodynamics that explains the interactions between quarks and gluons on the basis on their color charge, consisting of a color and an anti-color. These theories, largely validated experimentally, have the eventual aim of producing a standard model for the structure of matter throughout the universe. Politzer shared the 2004 Nobel Prize in physics with his collaborators David J. *Gross and Frank Wilczek. Politzer played the role of the physicist Robert Serber in the 1989 movie Fat Man and Little Boy about the Manhattan Project. His Nobel lecture admirably describes the uncertainties in particle physics and the difficulties in attributing discoveries to individual scientists.

[Michael Denman (2nd ed.)]

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Politzer, H. David

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Politzer, H. David