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Biography Collections of Tsung-Dao Lee

Tsung-Dao Lee's Home Page:http://tdlee.ccast.ac.cn/ 

"Tsung-Dao Lee." World of Physics. Online. Thomson Gale, 2006.

"Tsung-Dao Lee." World of Scientific Discovery. Online. Thomson Gale, 2006.

"Tsung-Dao Lee." Scientists: Their Lives and Works, Vols. 1-7. Online Edition. U*X*L, 2006.

"Tsung-Dao Lee." Notable Scientists: From 1900 to the Present. Online. Gale Group, 2008.

"Tsung-Dao Lee." Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed. 17 Vols. Gale Research, 1998.

"Tsung-Dao Lee." Notable Asian Americans. Gale Research, 1995.


"Tsung-Dao Lee." World of Physics. Online. Thomson Gale, 2006.Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC

Tsung-Dao Lee
Birth: 1926
Nationality: American
Occupation: physicist
Source: World of Physics. Online. Thomson Gale, 2006.
Updated: 02/01/2007

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Biographical Essay
Source Citation

BIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY
Tsung-Dao Lee and his colleague, physicist Chen Ning Yang, developed the revolutionary theory that the unusual behavior of the K meson (a subatomic particle) is a result of its violating a supposedly inviolable law of nature, conservation of parity, which defines the basic symmetry of nature. A few months after their theory had been announced, fellow physicist Chien-Shiung Wu obtained experimental confirmation of their remarkable discovery. For their work, Lee and Yang were awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize in physics.
Lee was born in Shanghai, China, on November 24, 1926. He was the third of six children born to Tsing-Kong Lee, a businessman, and Ming-Chang Chang. Lee attended the Kiangsi Middle School in Kanchow and, after graduation, entered the National Chekian University in Kweichow. After the invasion of China by Japanese troops in 1945, Lee fled to the south, where he continued his studies at the National Southwest Associated University in Kunming.

Immigrates to the United States
In 1946, Lee was presented with an unusual opportunity. One of his teachers at Kunming was the theoretical physicist Ta-You Wu. When Wu decided to return to the United States (where he had worked toward his Ph.D. degree), he invited Lee to accompany him. Lee accepted the offer, but found himself in a somewhat peculiar position. He had not yet received his bachelor's degree and found that only one American university would accept him for graduate study without a degree. He therefore decided to enroll in that institution, the University of Chicago.
At Chicago, Lee selected a topic in astrophysics for his doctoral research. Working under physicist Enrico Fermi, he completed that research and was awarded his Ph .D. in 1950 for his dissertation, on the hydrogen content of white dwarf stars. While at Chicago, Lee also renewed his friendship with physicist Chen Ning Yang. Lee and Yang had been acquaintances at Kunming, but they became very close friends after both reached the United States. They were separated in 1950 when Lee went to the Yerkes Astronomical Observatory at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and Yang went to the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University. Lee then spent the next year (1950-51) as a research associate at the University of California at Berkeley. The two friends were reunited in 1951, however, when Lee accepted an appointment at the Institute for Advanced Studies.

Discussions with Yang Lead to Revolutionary Theory
Lee's departure from Princeton in 1953 for a post as assistant professor of physics at Columbia University seems to have had little effect on his collaboration with Yang. The two worked out a schedule that allowed them to continue meeting once a week, either in New York City or in Princeton. By the spring of 1956, these regular meetings had begun to focus on a particularly interesting subject, a subatomic particle known as the K meson. Discovered only a few years earlier, the K meson puzzled physicists because it appeared to be a single particle that decayed in two different ways. The decay schemes were so different that physicists had become convinced that two distinct forms of the K meson existed, forms they called the tau meson and theta meson.
The single difference between these two mesons was that one form had even parity and the other form had odd parity. The term "parity" refers to the theory that the laws of nature are not biased in any particular direction. That is, if one has two sets of interactions that are mirror images of each other, the physical laws describing those interactions are identical. This concept is known as the conservation of parity, a concept long held by physicists.
The problem that Lee and Yang attacked was that vast amounts of experimental evidence suggested that the theta and tau mesons were one and the same particle. The only contrary evidence was that the two mesons had opposite parity and, therefore, supposedly could not be identical. During an intense three-week period of work in the spring of 1956, Lee and Yang solved this puzzle. Their solution was to suggest, simply enough, that in some types of reactions, parity is not conserved. The beta decay of the (one and only) K meson was such a reaction. They then devised a series of experiments by which their theory could be tested. The fundamental elements in the Lee-Yang theory were announced in a paper sent to the journal Physical Review on June 22, 1956, and later given the title, "Question of Parity Conservation in Weak Interactions."
About six months later, the experiments suggested by Lee and Yang were carried out by one of their colleagues, Chien-Shiung Wu, first at Columbia and then at the National Bureau of Standards. The experiments confirmed the Lee-Yang prediction in every respect. Less than a year later, the two theorists were awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize in physics for their work.
After promotions to associate professor (1955) and professor (1956) at Columbia, Lee returned to the Institute for Advanced Studies in 1960 for three years. He then was appointed Enrico Fermi Professor of Physics at Columbia in 1963. In 1984, he was made University Professor at Columbia. Beginning in 1981, Lee held appointments as honorary professor at a number of Chinese universities, including the University of Science and Technology (1981), Jinan University (1982), Fudan University (1982), Quinghua University (1984), Peking University (1985), Nanjing University (1985), and Zhejiang University (1988). He currently holds appointments as University Professor at Columbia University; Director of the China Center of Advanced Science & Technology in Beijing, China; Director of the Beijing Institute of Modern Physics; Director of the Zhejiang Institute of Modern Physics; and Director Emeritus of the RIKEN-BNL Research Center. He married Hui-Chung Chin (also known as Jeanette) on June 3, 1950, while they were both students at Chicago. The Lees have two sons, James and Stephen.



"Tsung-Dao Lee." World of Scientific Discovery. Online. Thomson Gale, 2006. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC

Tsung-Dao Lee
Birth: 1926
Nationality: American
Occupation: physicist
Source: World of Scientific Discovery. Online. Thomson Gale, 2006.
Updated: 12/31/2006

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Biographical Essay
Source Citation

BIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY
Tsung-Dao Lee was born in Shanghai, China, on November 24, 1926. He was the third of six children born to Tsing-Kong Lee, a businessman, and Ming-Chang Chang. Lee attended the Kiangsi Middle School in Kanchow and, after graduation, entered the National Chekian University in Kweichow. After the invasion of Japanese troops in 1945, Lee fled to the south, where he continued his studies at the National Southwest Associated University in Kunming.
In 1946, Lee was presented with an unusual opportunity. One of his teachers at Kunming was the theoretical physicist Ta-You Wu. When Wu decided to return to the United States (where he had worked toward his Ph.D. degree), he invited Lee to accompany him. Lee accepted the offer and subsequently enrolled at the University of Chicago, the only American university that would accept him for graduate study without an undergraduate degree.
At Chicago, Lee selected a topic in astrophysics for his doctoral research. Working under physicist Enrico Fermi, he completed that research and was awarded his Ph.D. in 1950 for his dissertation, on the hydrogen content of white dwarf stars. While at Chicago, Lee also renewed his friendship with physicist Chen Ning Yang. Lee and Yang had been acquaintances at Kunming. They were separated in 1950 when Lee went to the Yerkes Astronomical Observatory at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and Yang went to the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University. Lee then spent the next year (1950-51) as a research associate at the University of California at Berkeley. The two friends were reunited in 1951, however, when Lee accepted an appointment at the Institute for Advanced Studies.
Lee's departure from Princeton in 1953 for a post as assistant professor of physics at Columbia University seems to have had little effect on his collaboration with Yang. By the spring of 1956, they had begun to focus on a particularly interesting subject, a subatomic particle known as the K-meson. Discovered only a few years earlier, the K-meson puzzled physicists because it appeared to be a single particle that decayed in two different ways. The decay schemes were so different that physicists had become convinced that two distinct forms of the K-meson existed, forms they called the tau meson and theta meson.
The single difference between these two mesons was that one form had even parity and the other form had odd parity. The term parity refers to the theory that the laws of nature are not biased in any particular direction. That is, if one has two sets of interactions that are mirror images of each other, the physical laws describing those interactions are identical. This concept is known as the conservation of parity.
The problem that Lee and Yang attacked was that vast amounts of experimental evidence suggested that the theta and tau mesons were one and the same particle. The only contrary evidence was that the two mesons had opposite parity and, therefore, supposedly could not be identical. During an intense three-week period of work in the spring of 1956, Lee and Yang solved this puzzle. Their solution was to suggest, simply enough, that in some types of reactions, parity is not conserved. The beta decay of the (one and only) K-meson was such a reaction. They then devised a series of experiments by which their theory could be tested.
About six months later, the experiments suggested by Lee and Yang were carried out by one of their colleagues, Chien-Shiung Wu, first at Columbia and then at the National Bureau of Standards. The experiments confirmed the Lee-Yang prediction in every respect. Less than a year later, the two theorists were awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize in physics for their work.
After promotions to associate professor (1955) and professor (1956) at Columbia, Lee returned to the Institute for Advanced Studies in 1960 for three years. He then was appointed Enrico Fermi Professor of Physics at Columbia in 1963. In 1984, he was made University Professor at Columbia. Beginning in 1981, Lee held appointments as honorary professor at a number of Chinese universities, including the University of Science and Technology (1981), Jinan University (1982), Fudan University (1982), Quinghua University (1984), Peking University (1985), Nanjing University (1985), and Zhejiang University (1988). He married Hui-Chung Chin (also known as Jeanette) on June 3, 1950, while they were both students at Chicago. The Lees have two sons.



"Tsung-Dao Lee." Scientists: Their Lives and Works, Vols. 1-7. Online Edition. U*X*L, 2006.Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC

Tsung-Dao Lee
Birth: November 24, 1926 in Shanghai, China
Nationality: American
Ethnicity: Asian American
Occupation: Physicist, Scientist, Educator
Source: Scientists: Their Lives and Works, Vols. 1-7. Online Edition. U*X*L, 2006.
Updated: 01/01/2006

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Biographical Essay
Further Readings
Source Citation

Chinese–born American physicists Chen Ning Yang and Tsung–Dao Lee won the 1957 Nobel Prize for physics for their discovery of the violation of parity conservation.

BIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY
Chen Ning Yang and Tsung-Dao Lee developed the revolutionary theory that the unusual behavior of the subatomic particle K-meson was a result of its violating the conservation of parity, a supposedly fixed law of nature. A few months after their theory had been announced, fellow physicist Chien-Shiung Wu obtained experimental confirmation of their remarkable discovery. For their work, Lee and Yang were awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize for physics.

Yang grows up in academic family
Chen Ning Yang was born in the city of Hofei, China, on September 22, 1922, to Ke Chuan Yang, a professor of mathematics, and the former Meng Hwa Loh. In 1929, the family moved from Hofei to Peking, where Yang's father took a job with Tsinghua University. In Peking, Yang attended the Chung Te middle school. By 1937, the Yangs were forced to flee the invading Japanese army and went to Kunming. When Yang finished high school he entered the National Southwest Associated University, with which Tsinghua University had merged. Majoring in physics, he earned a bachelor of science degree in 1942. He continued his studies at Tsinghua, where his father was still a professor of mathematics, and received a master's degree two years later. He then taught high school for a year before deciding to pursue a doctorate in physics.
Because doctoral programs in physics were not then available in China, Yang moved to the United States. Anxious to study with Italian nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi, he traveled to New York City under the impression that Fermi was working at Columbia University. When Yang heard that the noted physicist had recently taken a new post at the University of Chicago, he followed--and enrolled in the doctoral program at Chicago. One of the benefits of Yang's tenure at Chicago was the association he developed with fellow student Tsung-Dao Lee.
Lee follows professor to the U.S.
Lee was born in Shanghai, China, on November 24, 1926. He was the third of six children born to Tsing-Kong Lee, a businessman, and Ming-Chang Chang. Lee attended the Kiangsi Middle School in Kanchow and, after graduation, entered the National Chekian University in Kweichow. After the invasion of Japanese troops in China in 1945, Lee fled to the south, where he continued his studies at the National Southwest Associated University in Kunming. The following year he was presented with an unusual opportunity: one of his teachers at Kunming was the theoretical physicist Ta-You Wu; when Wu decided to return to the United States (where he had worked toward his doctorate), he invited Lee to accompany him. Lee accepted the offer but found himself in a somewhat peculiar position. He had not yet received his bachelor's degree and learned that only one American institution, the University of Chicago, would accept him for graduate study without a degree. He therefore decided to enroll at Chicago.
Yang and Lee become friends
For his doctoral study Lee selected a topic in astrophysics and worked under Fermi. In 1950, he earned a Ph.D. after completing a dissertation on the hydrogen content of white dwarfs, stars in the final stages of their evolution. While at Chicago Lee also renewed his acquaintance with Yang. (Although they had both attended Southwest University in China, Yang was a year ahead of Lee.) The pair became close friends at Chicago. They were separated in the early 1950s when Lee went to the Yerkes Astronomical Observatory at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and Yang joined the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University. The two friends were reunited when Lee accepted an appointment at the Institute for Advanced Studies.
Scientists begin research collaboration
Lee's later departure from Princeton for a post as assistant professor of physics at Columbia University seemed to have little effect on his collaboration with Yang. The two worked out a schedule that allowed them to continue meeting once a week, either in New York City or in Princeton. By the spring of 1956, they had begun to focus on a particularly interesting subject, a subatomic particle known as the K-meson. Discovered only a few years earlier, the K-meson puzzled physicists because it appeared to be a single particle that, when bombarded in a particle accelerator, decayed (split) in two different ways. The decay schemes were so different that physicists had become convinced that K-meson had two distinct forms, tau meson and theta meson.
The single difference between these two mesons was that one form had even parity and the other form had odd parity. The law of parity conservation defines the basic symmetry of nature, the theory that the laws of nature are not biased in any particular direction. That is, if one form has two sets of interactions that are mirror images of each other, the physical laws describing those interactions are identical. This concept is known as the conservation of parity, a concept held by physicists since 1925. By the 1950s, however, K-meson had raised questions about the validity of that law.
Yang and Lee confront K-meson problem
Lee and Yang were faced with vast amounts of experimental evidence suggesting that the theta and tau mesons were one and the same particle. The only contrary evidence was that the two mesons had opposite parity and, therefore, supposedly could not be identical. During an intense three-week period of work in the spring of 1956, Yang and Lee attempted to solve this puzzle. Their solution was to suggest, simply enough, that in some types of reactions parity is not conserved. The beta decay (radioactive decomposition of an atomic nucleus in which a neutron breaks apart into a proton and an electron) of the one and only K-meson was such a reaction. The duo then devised a series of experiments by which their theory could be tested. Lee and Yang announced the basis of their explanation in a paper they sent to the journal Physical Review in June 1956. They later titled the report "Question of Parity Conservation in Weak Interactions."
Partners win Nobel and other honors
Within several months of the publication of their paper, the experiments suggested by Lee and Yang were carried out by one of their colleagues, Chien-Shiung Wu, first at Columbia University and then at the National Bureau of Standards. The experiments confirmed the Yang-Lee prediction in every respect. Less than a year later, the two physicists were awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize for physics for their work.
In 1965, Yang ended his long affiliation with the Institute for Advanced Study to accept an appointment as Albert Einstein Professor of Physics and director of the Institute of Theoretical Physics at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. In 1950, he had married Chih Li Tu, who had been one of his high school students in China. They have two sons, Franklin and Gilbert, and a daughter, Eulee. In addition to the Nobel Prize, Yang received the 1957 Albert Einstein Award and the 1980 Rumford Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Lee was promoted to the rank of professor at Columbia in 1956. He returned to the Institute for Advanced Studies in 1960 for three years, then was appointed Enrico Fermi Professor of Physics at Columbia in 1963 and later became University Professor at Columbia. Lee, in addition to receiving the Nobel Prize and various honorary degrees, also has been awarded with the Albert Einstein Commemorative Award in Science and the Science for Peace Prize of the Ettore Majorana Centre for Scientific Culture in Erice, Italy. Beginning in 1981, Lee held appointments as honorary professor at a number of Chinese universities, including the University of Science and Technology and Jinan, Fudan, Quinghua, Peking, Nanjing, and Zhejiang Universities. He had married Hui-Chung Chin (also called Jeanette) in 1950, while they were both students at Chicago. The Lees have two sons, James and Stephen.

FURTHER READINGS
Columbia University, "Three Columbia Physicists Awarded Italy's Science for Peace Prize," http://www.columbia.edu/cu/record/record2011.30.html (April 30, 1999).
Crease, Robert P., and Charles C. Mann, The Second Creation, Macmillan, 1986, pp. 205-07.
Magill, Frank N., ed., The Nobel Prize Winners: Physics, Volume 2, Salem Press, 1989, pp. 707-13.
McGraw-Hill Modern Scientists and Engineers, Volume 2, McGraw-Hill, 1980, pp. 215-16.
The Nobel Foundation, "Tsung-Dao Lee," (April 30, 1999).
Wasson, Tyler, ed., Nobel Prize Winners, H. W. Wilson, 1987, pp. 1150-52.



"Tsung-Dao Lee." Notable Scientists: From 1900 to the Present. Online. Gale Group, 2008. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC

Tsung-Dao Lee
Birth: 1926
Nationality: American
Occupation: physicist
Source: Notable Scientists: From 1900 to the Present. Online. Gale Group, 2008.
Updated: 01/01/2001

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Biographical Essay
Further Readings
Source Citation
Works

BIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY
Tsung-Dao Lee and his colleague physicist Chen Ning Yang developed the revolutionary theory that the unusual behavior of the K-meson (a subatomic particle) is a result of its violating a supposedly inviolable law of nature, conservation of parity, which defines the basic symmetry of nature. A few months after their theory had been announced, fellow physicist Chien-Shiung Wu obtained experimental confirmation of their remarkable discovery. For their work, Lee and Yang were awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize in physics.
Lee was born in Shanghai, China, on November 24, 1926. He was the third of six children born to Tsing-Kong Lee, a businessman, and Ming-Chang Chang. Lee attended the Kiangsi Middle School in Kanchow and, after graduation, entered the National Chekian University in Kweichow. After the invasion of Japanese troops in 1945, Lee fled to the south, where he continued his studies at the National Southwest Associated University in Kunming.
Immigrates to the United States
In 1946, Lee was presented with an unusual opportunity. One of his teachers at Kunming was the theoretical physicist Ta-You Wu. When Wu decided to return to the United States (where he had worked toward his Ph.D. degree), he invited Lee to accompany him. Lee accepted the offer, but found himself in a somewhat peculiar position. He had not yet received his bachelor's degree and found that only one American university would accept him for graduate study without a degree. He therefore decided to enroll in that institution, the University of Chicago.
At Chicago, Lee selected a topic in astrophysics for his doctoral research. Working under physicist Enrico Fermi, he completed that research and was awarded his Ph.D. in 1950 for his dissertation, on the hydrogen content of white dwarf stars. While at Chicago, Lee also renewed his friendship with physicist Chen Ning Yang. Lee and Yang had been acquaintances at Kunming, but they became very close friends after both reached the United States. They were separated in 1950 when Lee went to the Yerkes Astronomical Observatory at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and Yang went to the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University. Lee then spent the next year (1950-51) as a research associate at the University of California at Berkeley. The two friends were reunited in 1951, however, when Lee accepted an appointment at the Institute for Advanced Studies.
Discussions with Yang Lead to Revolutionary Theory
Lee's departure from Princeton in 1953 for a post as assistant professor of physics at Columbia University seems to have had little effect on his collaboration with Yang. The two worked out a schedule that allowed them to continue meeting once a week, either in New York City or in Princeton. By the spring of 1956, these regular meetings had begun to focus on a particularly interesting subject, a subatomic particle known as the K-meson. Discovered only a few years earlier, the K-meson puzzled physicists because it appeared to be a single particle that decayed in two different ways. The decay schemes were so different that physicists had become convinced that two distinct forms of the K-meson existed, forms they called the tau meson and theta meson.
The single difference between these two mesons was that one form had even parity and the other form had odd parity. The term parity refers to the theory that the laws of nature are not biased in any particular direction. That is, if one has two sets of interactions that are mirror images of each other, the physical laws describing those interactions are identical. This concept is known as the conservation of parity, a concept long held by physicists.
The problem that Lee and Yang attacked was that vast amounts of experimental evidence suggested that the theta and tau mesons were one and the same particle. The only contrary evidence was that the two mesons had opposite parity and, therefore, supposedly could not be identical. During an intense three-week period of work in the spring of 1956, Lee and Yang solved this puzzle. Their solution was to suggest, simply enough, that in some types of reactions, parity is not conserved. The beta decay of the (one and only) K-meson was such a reaction. They then devised a series of experiments by which their theory could be tested. The fundamental elements in the Lee-Yang theory were announced in a paper sent to the Physical Review on June 22, 1956 and later given the title, "Question of Parity Conservation in Weak Interactions."
About six months later, the experiments suggested by Lee and Yang were carried out by one of their colleagues, Chien-Shiung Wu, first at Columbia and then at the National Bureau of Standards. The experiments confirmed the Lee-Yang prediction in every respect. Less than a year later, the two theorists were awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize in physics for their work.
After promotions to associate professor (1955) and professor (1956) at Columbia, Lee returned to the Institute for Advanced Studies in 1960 for three years. He then was appointed Enrico Fermi Professor of Physics at Columbia in 1963. In 1984, he was made University Professor at Columbia. Beginning in 1981, Lee held appointments as honorary professor at a number of Chinese universities, including the University of Science and Technology (1981), Jinan University (1982), Fudan University (1982), Quinghua University (1984), Peking University (1985), Nanjing University (1985), and Zhejiang University (1988). He married Hui-Chung Chin (also known as Jeanette) on June 3, 1950, while they were both students at Chicago. The Lees have two sons, James and Stephen.

WORKS
Particle Physics and Introduction to Field Theory, Harwood Academic Press, 1981.
T.D. Lee: Selected Papers, Birkhausen, 1987.
Physical Review, Question of Parity Conservation in Weak Interactions, Volume 104, 1956, pp. 254-58.

FURTHER READINGS
Crease, Robert P., and Charles C. Mann, The Second Creation, Macmillan, 1986, pp. 205-7.
Crease, Robert P., and Charles C. Mann, McGraw-Hill Modern Scientists and Engineers, Volume 2, McGraw-Hill, 1980, pp. 215-16.
Crease, Robert P., and Charles C. Mann, Nobel Prize Winners, H. W. Wilson, 1987, pp. 615-17.
Weber, Robert L., Pioneers of Science: Nobel Prize Winners in Physics, American Institute of Physics, 1980, pp. 167-68.
Bernstein, Jeremy, New Yorker, A Question of Parity, May 12, 1962, pp. 49ff.



"Tsung-Dao Lee." Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed. 17 Vols. Gale Research, 1998. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC

Tsung-Dao Lee
Birth: November 24, 1926 in Shanghai, China
Nationality: American
Occupation: physicist
Source: Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed. 17 Vols. Gale Research, 1998.
Updated: 12/12/1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Awards
Biographical Essay
Chronology
Further Readings
Source Citation
Works

BIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY
Tsung-Dao Lee (born 1926) disproved the principle of parity.
Tsung-Dao Lee and his colleague physicist Chen Ning Yang developed the revolutionary theory that the unusual behavior of the K-meson (a subatomic particle) is a result of its violating a supposedly inviolable law of nature, conservation of parity, which defines the basic symmetry of nature. A few months after their theory had been announced, fellow physicist Chien-Shiung Wu obtained experimental confirmation of their remarkable discovery. For their work, Lee and Yang were awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize in physics.
Lee was born in Shanghai, China, on November 24, 1926. He was the third of six children born to Tsing-Kong Lee, a businessman, and Ming-Chang Chang. Lee attended the Kiangsi Middle School in Kanchow and, after graduation, entered the National Chekian University in Kweichow. After the invasion of Japanese troops in 1945, Lee fled to the south, where he continued his studies at the National Southwest Associated University in Kunming.
Immigrates to the United States
In 1946, Lee was presented with an unusual opportunity. One of his teachers at Kunming was the theoretical physicist Ta-You Wu. When Wu decided to return to the United States (where he had worked toward his Ph.D. degree), he invited Lee to accompany him. Lee accepted the offer, but found himself in a somewhat peculiar position. He had not yet received his bachelor's degree and found that only one American university would accept him for graduate study without a degree. He therefore decided to enroll in that institution, the University of Chicago.
At Chicago, Lee selected a topic in astrophysics for his doctoral research. Working under physicist Enrico Fermi, he completed that research and was awarded his Ph.D. in 1950 for his dissertation, on the hydrogen content of white dwarf stars. While at Chicago, Lee also renewed his friendship with physicist Chen Ning Yang. Lee and Yang had been acquaintances at Kunming, but they became very close friends after both reached the United States. They were separated in 1950 when Lee went to the Yerkes Astronomical Observatory at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and Yang went to the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University. Lee then spent the next year (1950-51) as a research associate at the University of California at Berkeley. The two friends were reunited in 1951, however, when Lee accepted an appointment at the Institute for Advanced Studies.
Discussions with Yang Lead to Revolutionary Theory
Lee's departure from Princeton in 1953 for a post as assistant professor of physics at Columbia University seems to have had little effect on his collaboration with Yang. The two worked out a schedule that allowed them to continue meeting once a week, either in New York City or in Princeton. By the spring of 1956, these regular meetings had begun to focus on a particularly interesting subject, a subatomic particle known as the K-meson. Discovered only a few years earlier, the K-meson puzzled physicists because it appeared to be a single particle that decayed in two different ways. The decay schemes were so different that physicists had become convinced that two distinct forms of the K-meson existed, forms they called the tau meson and theta meson.
The single difference between these two mesons was that one form had even parity and the other form had odd parity. The term parity refers to the theory that the laws of nature are not biased in any particular direction. That is, if one has two sets of interactions that are mirror images of each other, the physical laws describing those interactions are identical. This concept is known as the conservation of parity, a concept long held by physicists.
The problem that Lee and Yang attacked was that vast amounts of experimental evidence suggested that the theta and tau mesons were one and the same particle. The only contrary evidence was that the two mesons had opposite parity and, therefore, supposedly could not be identical. During an intense three-week period of work in the spring of 1956, Lee and Yang solved this puzzle. Their solution was to suggest, simply enough, that in some types of reactions, parity is not conserved. The beta decay of the (one and only) K-meson was such a reaction. They then devised a series of experiments by which their theory could be tested. The fundamental elements in the Lee-Yang theory were announced in a paper sent to the Physical Review on June 22, 1956 and later given the title, "Question of Parity Conservation in Weak Interactions."
About six months later, the experiments suggested by Lee and Yang were carried out by one of their colleagues, Chien-Shiung Wu, first at Columbia and then at the National Bureau of Standards. The experiments confirmed the Lee-Yang prediction in every respect. Less than a year later, the two theorists were awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize in physics for their work.
After promotions to associate professor (1955) and professor (1956) at Columbia, Lee returned to the Institute for Advanced Studies in 1960 for three years. He then was appointed Enrico Fermi Professor of Physics at Columbia in 1963. In 1984, he was made University Professor at Columbia. Beginning in 1981, Lee held appointments as honorary professor at a number of Chinese universities, including the University of Science and Technology (1981), Jinan University (1982), Fudan University (1982), Quinghua University (1984), Peking University (1985), Nanjing University (1985), and Zhejiang University (1988). He married Hui-Chung Chin (also known as Jeanette) on June 3, 1950, while they were both students at Chicago. The Lees have two sons, James and Stephen.

AWARDS
Nobel Prize for physics, 1957.

CHRONOLOGY
The Life and Times of Tsung Lee (1926-)
At the time of Lee's birth:
Calvin Coolidge was president of the United States
Josef Stalin became dictator of the Soviet Union
Ernest Hemingway published The Sun Also Rises
Robert Goddard launched the first liquid-fuel rocket
The times:
1939-1945: World War II
1950-1953: Korean War
1957-1975: Vietnam War
1991: Persian Gulf War
1992-1996: Civil war in Bosnia
Lee's contemporaries:
Richard Feynman (1918-1988) American physicist
Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989) Russian physicist
Chuck Berry (1926-) American rock musician
Fidel Castro (1926-) Cuban leader
Maya Angelou (1928-) American poet
Carl Sagan (1934-) American astronomer
Selected world events:
1935: Richter scale for measure earthquakes developed
1942: Robert J. Oppenheimer became director of the Manhattan Project
1947: First piloted aircraft broke the speed of sound
1950: "Peanuts" cartoon strip made its debut in newspapers
1963: John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas
1979: American space station Skylab disintegrated
1995: Poison gas attack in Tokyo's subway system killed 12

WORKS
Particle Physics and Introduction to Field Theory, Harwood Academic Press, 1981.
T.D. Lee: Selected Papers, Birkhausen, 1987.
Physical Review, Volume 104, 1956, pp. 254-58.

FURTHER READINGS
books
Crease, Robert P., and Charles C. Mann, The Second Creation, Macmillan, 1986, pp. 205-7.
McGraw-Hill Modern Scientists and Engineers, Volume 2, McGraw-Hill, 1980, pp. 215-16.
Nobel Prize Winners, H. W. Wilson, 1987, pp. 615-17.
Weber, Robert L., Pioneers of Science: Nobel Prize Winners in Physics, American Institute of Physics, 1980, pp. 167-68.
periodicals
Bernstein, Jeremy, "A Question of Parity," in New Yorker, May 12, 1962, pp. 49ff.



"Tsung-Dao Lee." Notable Asian Americans. Gale Research, 1995. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC

Tsung-Dao Lee
Birth: November 25, 1926 in Shanghai, China
Nationality: American, Chinese
Ethnicity: Asian American
Occupation: Scientist, Physicist
Source: Notable Asian Americans. Gale Research, 1995.
Updated: 12/30/1995

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Awards
Biographical Essay
Further Readings
Personal Information
Source Citation

BIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY
Tsung-Dao Lee is a theoretical physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1957 in recognition of his theoretical and experimental work in contradicting the long-held scientific belief in the conservation of parity, a tenet of nuclear physics having to do with the interactions of colliding subatomic particles that had gone unchallenged since the 1920s. He shared the prize with Chen Ning Yang, and together their discovery owes much to the experimental work of Chien Shiung Wu of Columbia University, all Chinese American immigrants.
Tsung-Dao Lee was born in Shanghai, China, on November 25, 1926. His father, Tsing-Kong Lee, was a businessman and his mother, the former Ming-Chang Chang. Lee graduated from high school in 1943 and enrolled in college at the National Chekiang University in Kweichow, from which he earned a bachelor's degree in physics in 1946. China at that time was fighting a long war against an invading Japanese army, and Lee's education was at one point disrupted when Chekiang University was forced to flee south, consolidating itself with other colleges and universities which also had relocated because of the war.
After earning his bachelor's degree Lee came to America on a government scholarship to study physics at the University of Chicago. While at Chicago, Lee studied under Enrico Fermi, one of the world's most prominent nuclear physicists. He earned his Ph.D. in 1950, writing his dissertation on white dwarf stars. Later in 1950, Lee worked as a research associate in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, at the Yerkes Astronomical Observatory. In 1951 he left Yerkes to work as a research associate at the University of California at Berkeley. Later that year he transferred once again, this time to the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, where he was reunited with a fellow student from his undergraduate days in China, Chen Ning Yang. In 1953, Lee moved to Columbia University in New York City where he served as an assistant professor, and then in 1956, at the age of twenty-nine, he became a full professor at Columbia, the youngest person ever to attain such a title in Columbia's history. Lee worked at Princeton again from 1960 until 1963, when he returned to Columbia as the Enrico Fermi Professor of Physics.

The Nobel Work
In the mid-fifties Lee and Yang, who was then at Princeton, began to study a curious phenomena in particle physics. Physicists had for years been bombarding subatomic particles in high speed accelerators to observe the nature of their structures. In the course of these experiments, two new particles, called K-mesons, were discovered. Upon further experimentation, it was observed that these K-mesons behaved in a way contrary to the laws of conservation of parity in that one K-meson would decay into two pi-mesons, while the other would decay into three. Established physical law does not allow for such differences in behavior; the natural world is expected to behave in symmetrical ways.
Lee and Yang began further experimentation. The question they sought to resolve was whether the two types of K-mesons were in fact the same particle (which would mean the fall of the concept of parity conservation), or whether they were different in a way science had not yet been able to observe. The decisive experiment Lee and Yang conducted was in 1956 and 1957, and involved observing the subatomic decay of radioactive cobalt in a controlled environment. The pattern of the decay they observed proved that the law of conservation of parity was invalid, a conclusion that surprised the young scientists.
In 1957 the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded Lee and Yang the Nobel Prize in physics. H.W. Wilson's Biographical Dictionary quotes O.B. Klein of the academy as presenting Lee and Yang the award with these words: "Through your consistent and unprejudiced thinking, you have been able to break a most puzzling deadlock in the field of elementary particle physics where now experimental and theoretical work is pouring forth as a result of your brilliant achievement."
Lee has received other honors for his work as well. In 1957 he was awarded the Albert Einstein Commemorative Award of Yeshive University, and in 1958 Princeton University awarded him an honorary degree. Lee is also a longtime member of the National Academy of Sciences and is a fellow of the American Physical Society. He has been a citizen of the United States since 1963, and has been married since 1950. Lee has done substantial theoretical work in areas other than particle physics, including statistical mechanics, astrophysics, hydrodynamics, and turbulence.

PERSONAL INFORMATION
Family: His father, Tsing-Kong Lee, was a businessman and his mother, the former Ming-Chang Chang; Lee has been married since 1950. Education: Lee graduated from high school in 1943 and enrolled in college at the National Chekiang University in Kweichow, from which he earned a bachelor's degree in physics in 1946; studied physics at the University of Chicago.

AWARDS
In 1957 the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded Lee and Yang the Nobel Prize in physics.

FURTHER READINGS
Wasson, Tyler, ed. Nobel Prize Winners. Princeton, New Jersey: Visual Education Corporation, 1987.
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