Memoir

Julian Schwinger

University of California, Los Angeles

February 12, 1918 - July 16, 1994


Election Year: 1949
Scientific Discipline: Physics
Membership Type: Member

Julian Schwinger was an influential theoretical physicist who was responsible for modern quantum field theory. He was able to reconcile quantum mechanics and special relativity for the first time in his relativistic quantum field theory of electrodynamics. Quantum electrodynamics gives a complete mechanism of how electrically charged particles interact through the exchange of photons. Through his studies he introduced the “Schwinger effect” by using nonperturbative methods for the calculation of the rate at which electron-positron pairs are created by tunneling in an electric field. In 1965 the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Sin-Itiro Tomonaga, Julian Schwinger, and Richard P. Feynman "for their fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics, with deep-ploughing consequences for the physics of elementary particles."

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