October 5, 2004

DOE-Supported Physicists are Co-Winners of 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics

WASHINGTON, DC -- “On behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy, I congratulate Frank Wilczek, H. David Politzer and David J. Gross for winning the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics,” said Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham. “For decades, the Department of Energy, and its predecessor agencies, have been the leading Federal supporter of research in physics, enabling vital advances and discoveries by scientists exploring the fundamental nature of matter, energy, space and time.

“We are especially pleased to note Dr. Wilczek’s and Dr. Politzer’s longtime affiliations with the DOE Office of Science’s High Energy Physics program,” Abraham said. “They join a remarkably long and distinguished list of Nobel Prize winners supported by DOE.”

Dr. Raymond L. Orbach, Director of DOE’s Office of Science said, “The award of this year's Nobel Prize to Gross, Wilczek and Politzer for their fundamental, groundbreaking theoretical investigation of the forces between quarks brings to mind the original discovery of quarks themselves at several DOE national laboratories. The Office of Science is proud of its long association with research into the fundamental constituents of matter and of the scientists whose work it has supported.”

By far, the lion's share of the experimental evidence for quarks was accumulated in three DOE national laboratories supported by the DOE Office of Science’s High Energy Physics program – Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center – and it resulted in the award of the 1976 Nobel Prize to Burton Richter and Samuel C. C. Ting and the 1990 Nobel Prize to Henry Kendall, Jerome Friedman and Richard Taylor. The original idea for quarks and the theory of the strong force binding them together inside the proton and neutron were proposed by Murray Gell-Mann, whose theoretical research was supported by the Office of Science for many years and who won the 1969 Nobel Prize in physics for his work in elementary particles.

Going back to the earliest days of the Manhattan Project, the Department of Energy and its predecessor agencies have blended cutting-edge research and innovative problem-solving to keep the United States in the forefront of scientific discovery for decades. As testimony to the high quality and impact of the research DOE underwrites, the Energy Department has sponsored 41 Nobel Laureates since its inception in 1977 – and a total of 82 Nobel Laureates since 1934. The complete roster of DOE Nobel Prize winners, their biographies and photos is available at

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, providing more than 40 percent of total funding for this vital area of national importance. It oversees – and is the principal federal funding agency of – the Nation’s research programs in high-energy physics. The DOE Office of Science’s web site address is

Media Contact:
Jeff Sherwood, 202/586-5806

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Number: R-04-317

Last Modified: 10/05/2004