Eugene (Jenő) Wigner

Eugene Wigner

Nobel Prize winning physiscist

He was born into a Jewish family that lived at 76 Király Street. Nowadays a memorial tablet has been showing his birthplace. We was thought to be a happy child, apart from the fact that he had to spent some time in sanatorium, because of tubercolosis (suspicion). While his high-school studies, he was learning in Fasori Evagélikus Gimnázium. One of his and Neumann’s famous teachers in Mathematics was László Rátz. He choose evangelical religion instead of Judaism. From 1920, he was learning chemical engineering at Technical University of Budapest, and in Berlin from 1921 where he met Leó Szilárd who became his best friend. He also attended the colloquia of the German Physical Society.

These colloquia featured such luminaries as Max Planck, Rudolf Ladenburg, Wolfgang Pauli and Albert Einstein as well. Later he was working in the Kaiser Wilhelm Institut where he was taught by Mihály Polányi. He started to deal with quantum mechanics at the end of 1920’s and he published a lot. From the 1930, he was a teacher at Princeton University, together with Neumann and later he was dealing with nuclear research. He played an important role in Manhattan Project (1939, 1940) that resulted the structure of atomic nucleus. He published his famous work, ’The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences’ in 1960. In his work, he argued with coincidence that mathematics and physics were so well matched. In 1963, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, ’for his contributions to the theory of the atomic nucleus and the elementary particles, particularly through the discovery and application of fundamental symmetry principles’. In 1988, the Magyar Tudományos Akadémia laureated him as a honoryry member. In 1992, at the age of 90, he published his memories with the title ’The Recollections of Eugene P. Wigner’. He died in 1995, in Princeton. His name has given to a planetoid that was discovered by two Hungarian astronomers, Krisztián Sárnecky and László Kiss.