Sidney Coleman

Sidney Coleman

name = Sidney Coleman

birth_date = birth date|1937|3|7
birth_place = Chicago
death_date = death date|2007|11|18
residence = United States
nationality = American
field = Physicist
work_institution = Harvard University
alma_mater = Illinois Institute of Technology
doctoral_advisor = Murray Gell-Mann
doctoral_students = Ian Affleck
Mark Alford
Carl Bender
Katherine Benson
Jacques Distler
David Griffiths
John LoSecco
Jeffrey Mandula
John March-Russell
Robert Mawhinney
Gergory Moore
Philip Nelson
Stephen Parke
Leonard Parker
David Politzer
Alex Safian
Lee Smolin
Paul Steinhardt
Erick Weinberg
Richard Woodard
Anthony Zee
known_for = Quantum field theory
societies = fellow of National Academy of Sciences
fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
prizes = Dirac Medal
Dannie Heineman Prize
website =
footnotes =

Sidney Richard Coleman (7 March 1937 – 18 November 2007) was an eminent theoretical physicist who studied under Murray Gell-Mann.

Life and work

Sidney Coleman grew up on the Far North Side of Chicago. In 1957, he got his undergraduate degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

He received his PhD from Caltech in 1962, and moved to Harvard University that year, where he spent his entire career, meeting his wife Diana there in the late 1970s. They were married in 1982.

"He was a giant in a peculiar sense, because he's not known to the general populace," Nobel laureate Sheldon Glashow told the Boston Globe. "He's not a Stephen Hawking; he has virtually no visibility outside. But within the community of theoretical physicists, he's kind of a major god. He is the physicist's physicist." []

In 1966, Antonino Zichichi recruited Coleman as a lecturer at the then-new summer school at International School for Subnuclear Physics in Erice, Sicily. A legendary figure at the school throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Coleman was awarded the title "Best Lecturer" on the occasion of the school's fifteenth anniversary (1979). His explanation of spontaneous symmetry breaking in terms of a little man living inside a ferromagnet has often been cited by later popularizers. [] [] The classic particle physics text "Aspects of Symmetry" (1985) is a collection of Coleman's lectures at Erice.

His lectures at Harvard were also legendary. Students in one quantum field theory course created Tshirts bearing his image and a collection of his more noted quotations, among them: "Not only God knows, I know, and by the end of the semester, you will know."

In 1989, he won the US National Academy of Sciences Award for Excellence in Scientific Reviewing. That award praised his "lucid, insightful, and influential reviews on partially conserved currents, gauge theories, instantons, and magnetic monopoles--subjects fundamental to theoretical physics." []

In 2005, Harvard University's physics department held the "SidneyFest", a conference on quantum field theory and quantum chromodynamics, organized in his honor. []

Contributions to physics

Some of his best known works are

* Coleman-Mandula theorem [cite journal | author=Sidney Coleman and Jeffrey Mandula | title=All Possible Symmetries of the S Matrix | journal=Phys. Rev. | year=1967 | volume=159 | pages=1251–1256 | url= | doi=10.1103/PhysRev.159.1251 ]
* Tadpoles
* Coleman theorem [Sidney Coleman: "There are no Goldstone bosons in two dimensions", [ Commun. Math. Phys. 31, 259 (1973)] ]
* Equivalence of the Thirring model and the quantum Sine-Gordon equation [ [ Phys. Rev. D 11 (1975): Sidney Coleman - Quantum sine-Gordon equation as ] ]
* Semiclassical analysis of the fate of a false vacuum
* Coleman-Weinberg potential
* Q-balls in the thin-wall limit


*"Aspects of Symmetry", Sidney Coleman, Cambridge University Press, 1985, ISBN 0-521-31827-0

External links

* [ Sidneyfest 2005] - physicists' celebration of Sidney Coleman's life
* [,0,7943823.story Chicago Tribune obituary] , November 20, 2007.
* [ Harvard Gazette obituary] , November 29, 2007.
* [ Boston Globe obituary] , January 20, 2008.
* [ Physics Today obituary] , May 2008, written by Sheldon Glashow.
* [ "Quantum Mechanics In Your Face"] , A lecture by Prof. Coleman at the New England sectional meeting of the American Physical Society April 9, 1994.
* [ Physics 253: Quantum Field Theory] . Video of lectures by Sidney Coleman at Harvard in 1975-1976.

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