Samuel C.C. Ting, the J/psi Particle (Charm), and
the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS)

Resources with Additional Information

Samuel C.C. Ting
Credit: Courtesy of the
Massachusetts Institute of

'Samuel C.C. Ting was born ... in Ann Arbor, Michigan, ... [and] received his elementary and secondary education in China ... . He excelled in mathematics, science and history. In 1956, Ting returned to the United States to attend the University of Michigan as an engineering student, but he soon transferred his major to physics.'1

In 1959, he was awarded a BSE (in physics) and BSE (in mathematics), both from the University of Michigan and in 1962, he was awarded a Ph.D. (in physics), also from the University of Michigan.

'After receiving his Ph.D., Ting went to CERN as a Ford Foundation postdoctoral scholar, then joined the faculty at Columbia University where he became interested in the physics of electron-positron pair production. ...

In the spring of 1972, Ting, then on the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, began experiments at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, again involving electron-positron pairs. In August 1974, his experiments produced a surprising reading, which Ting immediately recognized as something very different from theoretical expectations.

After several months of meticulous study of his data, Ting concluded he had evidence of a new elementary particle three times heavier than a proton and much longer-lived than anything physics currently knew of (where “long life” is often measured in minute fractions of a second). By November 1974, Ting announced his discovery of what he named the “J particle.”

At about the same time, Burton Richter at Stanford University demonstrated the existence of a new particle, which Richter named the “psi particle.” At a meeting between Ting and Richter that fall, they both realized the particles they had each discovered were the same. Their dual discoveries provided the first experimental evidence for a fourth quark, “charm,” that theoretical physicists had predicted.

In 1976, Ting, only 40 years old, and Richter shared the Nobel Prize in Physics. Less than two years had passed since their dual discoveries, the shortest time span from a discovery to such recognition in Nobel history. 2


Resources with Additional Information

Additional information about Samuel Ting, the J/psi Particle (Charm), and the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) is available in electronic documents and on the Web.


Timelike Momenta In Quantum Electrodynamics, DOE Technical Report, Download Adobe PDF Reader, December 1965

Experimental Observation of a Heavy Particle J; Physical Review Letters, Vol. 33 Issue 23: 1404-1406, December 2, 1974

Nonobservation of Heavier J Particles from p-N Reactions; Physical Review Letters, Vol. 33 Issue 27: 1404-1406, December 30, 1974

Hadron and Photon Production of J Particles and the Origin of J Particles, DOE Technical Report, Download Adobe PDF Reader, 1975

The Discovery of the J particle: A Personal Recollection (Nobel Lecture); Review of Modern Physics, Vol. 49 Issue 2: 235-249, April 1, 1977


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