Val L. Fitch

  • From:

    Princeton University │ Princeton, New Jersey

  • Year:

    1976

  • Subject:

    Physics

  • Award:

    Wetherill

  • Citation:

    For work in elucidating the symmetries of the physical laws and for fundamental discoveries implying the failure of time reversal invariance for elementary particles (with James W. Cronin).

Val Fitch was born on a cattle ranch in Cherry County, Nebraska, not far from the South Dakota border, in 1923. As a soldier in the U.S. Army in WWII, he was sent to Los Alamos, New Mexico, to work on the Manhattan Project. At this time, he came into contact with many of the renowned physicists working on the project. After spending three years at Los Alamos, Fitch finished his undergraduate degree at McGill University, and then completed a Ph.D. at Columbia University.

While at Columbia, he was introduced to studies surrounding u-mesic atoms, which became the focus of his primary work. Jointly with James Watson Cronin, Fitch was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1980 for the experimental discovery of "charge parity" violation in the decay of the elementary particles called K mesons. The discovery offered manifold consequences for our understanding of the physical world. The most dramatic of these concerns the origin of the universe: We now believe that a net positive amount of matter, the stuff of which the stars and ourselves are made, is created in the Big Bang only because of CP violation.

Dr. Fitch is James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Physics at Princeton University.

Information as of 1977