Biography of Hideki Yukawa – The Nuclear Expert

Tuesday, May 7th, 2019 - Biography

He is also known as the Nuclear Expert from Japan. Hideki Yukawa was born in 1907 in Tokyo, as the third child of Takuji Ogawa a professor of geology at Kyoto Imperial University (now Kyoto University). He obtained his MS degree from Kyoto University in 1929 and DSc (equivalent to S3) from Osaka University in 1938. Between 1932 and 1938, he followed in his father’s footsteps as a lecturer at Kyoto University and in 1939 he became a professor of theoretical physics at the university.

He also served as an assistant professor at Osaka University. Yukawa’s passion in the field of physics research, especially in relation to elementary particle physics, has been seen since his youth. Yukawa once said, that his interest in deepening theoretical physics was very much influenced by his professor K Tamaki in Kyoto and Nishina Y in Tokyo.

In 1949, Hideki Yukawa who won the Nobel prize in the field of physics seemed to convey to the world that the Asian nation also holds great potential in the field of science. He placed his country, Japan as the second country in Asia after India which succeeded in gaining international recognition in its remarkable achievements in the field of physics research. Jokingly, he also said that his interest was partly due to his inability to master the art of making simple glass laboratory equipment.

In 1935, when he was 27 years old, Yukawa published a paper entitled On the Interaction of Elementary Particles I. In his publication, he proposed a new theory of nuclear forces and predicted the existence of particles which were then called mesons. According to him, just like the electromagnetic force carried by photons, the nuclear force is carried by mesons. After the discovery of one type of meson by American physicists in 1937, Yukawa was even more enthusiastic to concentrate his research on the development of this meson theory.
Biography of Hideki Yukawa
Hideki Yukawa
The particles predicted by the Yukawa would originally be called “Yukon” in his honor, but eventually, people chose the name meson, arguing that the mass of this particle is between the electron mass and the mass of the proton, which is around 200-300 times the mass of the electron. The discovery of pi-meson particles in 1947 made the name of Yukawa skyrocketed. This discovery further convinced people that Yukawa’s theory of nuclear force was on the right track.

For his predictions about the existence of mesons which later proved empirically, Hideki Yukawa was later confirmed as a great physicist with the awarding of the Nobel Prize in physics from the Swedish Academy of Science in Stockholm, Switzerland. The money from the Nobel prize was then donated to establish a new theoretical physics institute in Kyoto.

While continuing to develop meson theory, Yukawa also intensified himself in researching theories related to elementary particles. The theory called non-local field theory has helped many developments in the theory of nuclear physics. The theories derived from his ideas are widely published in scientific journals and also in his book Introduction to Quantum Mechanics and Introduction to the Theory of Elementary Particles.

Among his busy life, he still took the time to become the editor of the journal Progress of Theoretical Physics. In 1948, Robert Oppenheimer invited Yukawa to join the nuclear physics group and work for the Princeton Institute of Further Education.

Biography of Hideki Yukawa
Yukawa with Einstein and Other Physicists
Then he became a professor at Columbia University, United States in 1949. Besides the Nobel, the awards he received were from the University of Paris, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Indian Academy of Sciences, the International Academy of Philosophy and Sciences, and the Pontificia Academia Scientiarum. From his own country, he was also awarded a service star. Yukawa is known as a fun person.
His colleagues love to hang out with humility. When he was appointed professor at Columbia University, Oppenheimer said “Dr. Yukawa’s prediction of a meson is one of the most brilliant ideas in the last decade. In his daily life, he is loved by all his colleagues both as a physicist and as a person. ”

Although busy as a researcher, Yukawa also took the time to be active in social activities. In July 1981, four months before he died, Yukawa together with a group of scientists made a statement banning the use of nuclear weapons

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