Victor J. Weisskopf
Wolf Prize Laureate in Physics 1981
The Prize Committee for Physics has unanimously decided that the Wolf Prize for 1981 should be equally divided among Freeman J. Dyson ,Gerard T. Hooft and Victor J. Weisskopf.
Victor J. Weisskopf
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
“for their outstanding contributions to theoretical physics, especially in the development and application of the quantum theory of, fields.”
The activity of Professor Victor F. Weisskopf extends over a period of more than 50 years and covers two subfields of theoretical physics: quantum field theory and theoretical nuclear physics. Furthermore, he has gained a reputation as an international statesman In quantum field theory his main contributions are (1) An early recognition that the incorporation of the positron in quantum electrodynamics eased to a large extent the self-energy difficulties and that infinities might be removed by renormalization of the electron´s mass and charge. (2) In collaboration with Pauli he formulated the correct quantization method for boson fields and gave the proper method for extending to bosons the concept of antiparticles. These chievements make him one of the pioneers of quantum field theory.
In nuclear physics he successfully applied thermodynamical methods to Bohrs compound nucleus model obtaining many semiquantitative results that guided the art for years. Furthermore, he analyzed with H. Feshbach and C. Porter neutron nucleus scattering. Introducing statistical methods, founded on quantum mechanics, that have been successfully applied in several different contexts even outside of the nuclear field.
As Director of CERN and on many other occasions he has shown considerable diplomatic ability addressed to improve international relations in science, fostering, to quote the statute of the Wolf Foundation, humanity and brotherly relationships amongst the peoples.