Frank Wilczek, Asymptotic Freedom, and Strong Interaction

Resources with Additional Information

H. David Politzer
Photo Credit:
Donna Coveney, MIT

Frank Wilczek, a winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics "for the discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction", has had multiple connections with Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL). These include his being the Leland J. Haworth Distinguished Scientist from 1994 - 1997. Wilczek shares the Nobel prize with David J. Gross and H. David Politzer.

"Asymptotic freedom is a phenomenon whereby quarks behave as free particles when they are close together, but become more strongly attracted to each other as the distance between them increases. This theory forms the key to the interpretation of almost all experimental studies involving modern particle accelerators."

"Wilczek's earliest work, done with Gross at Princeton in the 1970s, concerned the change of fundamental couplings with energy. This work led to the discovery of asymptotic freedom, which makes it possible to understand the behavior of matter under extreme conditions, such as occurred in the earliest moments of the Big Bang. Also, it permits the construction of unified models of particle interactions, which have concrete predictive power.

Wilczek has been a leading participant in all these developments. One notable result of the cosmological work is a compelling explanation of the asymmetry between matter and antimatter in the present universe."

Wilczek received his B.S. in1970 from the University of Chicago. He received his M.A. in 1971 and his Ph.D. in 1973 from Princeton University.


Resources with Additional Information

Additional information about Frank Wilczek, asymptotic freedom, and strong interaction is available in full-text articles and on the Web.


Ultraviolet Behavior of Non-Abelian Gauge Theories; Physical Review Letters, Vol. 30, Issue 26; 1973

Asymptotically Free Gauge Theories I; DOE Technical Report; 1973

Scaling Deviations for Neutrino Reactions in Asymptotically Free Field Theories; DOE Technical Report; 1974

Weak-interaction Models with New Quarks and Right-handed Currents; DOE Technical Report; 1975

Inflationary Axion Cosmology; DOE Technical Report 1991

Quantum Field Theory; Review of Modern Physics, Vol. 71, Issue 2; 1999


Additional Web Pages:



Nobel Lecture by Frank Wilczek, (video)

Interview with David J. Gross and Frank Wilczek, (video)

The Origin of Mass and the Feebleness of Gravity (video)

Nobel Laureates 2004 - Physics  --  a short documentary, (video)


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