Julian Seymour Schwinger

Julian Seymour Schwinger
(1918 - 1994)

American physicist, and joint winner with Richard P. Feynman and Tomonaga Shin'ichiro, of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1965 for his work in formulating quantum electrodynamics and thus reconciling quantum mechanics with Albert Einstein's special theory of relativity.
A child prodigy, Schwinger received his Ph.D. from Columbia University at age 21. From 1939 to 1941 he worked under J. Robert Oppenheimer at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1945 Schwinger joined the faculty of Harvard University, where in 1947 he became one of the youngest full professors in that university's history. It was at Harvard that he began working to correct P.A.M. Dirac's mathematical account of the relations between charged particles and electromagnetic fields. Schwinger's equations not only saved Dirac's theory but served to unite electromagnetic theory with quantum mechanics to form the new field of quantum electrodynamics. Schwinger completed his work unaware that Feynman and Tomonaga were independently working on the same problem. From 1972 until his death he was professor of physics at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Selected Papers (1937-1976) of Julian Schwinger, ed. by M. Flato, C. Fronsdal, and K.A. Milton (1979), collects some of his writings. Silvan S. Schweber, QED and the Men Who Made It: Dyson, Feynman, Schwinger, and Tomonaga (1994), is an essential intellectual history of the major figures in the development of quantum electrodynamics.


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