Sin-Itiro Tomonaga

About Sin-Itiro Tomonaga

Who is it?: Physicist
Birth Day: March 31, 1906
Birth Place: Tokyo, Japan, Japanese
Died On: July 8, 1979(1979-07-08) (aged 73)\nTokyo, Japan
Birth Sign: Aries
Alma mater: Kyoto Imperial University University of Tokyo
Known for: Quantum electrodynamics Schwinger–Tomonaga equation
Awards: Asahi Prize (1946) Lomonosov Gold Medal (1964) Nobel Prize in Physics (1965)
Fields: Theoretical physics
Institutions: Leipzig University Institute for Advanced Study Tokyo University of Education RIKEN University of Tokyo

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Sin-Itiro Tomonaga was born on March 31, 1906 in Tokyo, Japan, Japanese, is Physicist. Sin'ichirō Tomonaga was a Japanese physicist who received the ‘Nobel Prize in Physics’ in 1965 along with two American theoretical physicists, Julian Schwinger and Richard Feynman for the development of basic principles of quantum electrodynamics (QED), particularly for discovering the renormalization method. It is the theory of interactions between charged subatomic particles and electromagnetic field. Tomonaga began and completed his studies of the issues of quantum electrodynamics in the early 1940s thereby publishing his research. The covariant formulation in quantum field theory was suggested by him. His theoretical work on QED made it uniform with that of theory of special relativity – a well approved physical theory that deals with space and time relationship. However ‘Second World War’ kept him detached from scientists of the West and only after the war his theoretical work on QED was recognised by the West. Tomonaga served as professor of physics at ‘Bunrika University’, remained President of ‘Tokyo University of Education’ and was elected Chairman of ‘Japan Science Council’. He was a vigorous crusader in opposing deployment of nuclear weapons and insisted on spending resources for harmonious applications of nuclear energy. He received the highest award of Japan, ‘Order of Culture’ in 1952 and the ‘Mikhail Lomonosov Gold Medal’ from ‘Academy of Sciences’ of USSR in 1964 among numerous other awards and honours.
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Tomonaga was born in Tokyo in 1906. He was the second child and eldest son of a Japanese Philosopher, Tomonaga Sanjūrō. He entered the Kyoto Imperial University in 1926. Hideki Yukawa, also a Nobel Prize winner, was one of his classmates during undergraduate school. During graduate school at the same university, he worked as an assistant in the university for three years. In 1931, after graduate school, he joined Nishina's group in Riken. In 1937, while working at Leipzig University (Leipzig), he collaborated with the research group of Werner Heisenberg. Two years later, he returned to Japan due to the outbreak of the Second World War, but finished his doctoral degree (from University of Tokyo) on the study of nuclear materials with his thesis on work he had done while in Leipzig.


Tomonaga was married in 1940 to Ryōko Sekiguchi. They had two sons and one daughter. He was awarded the Order of Culture in 1952, and the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun in 1976.


In Japan, he was appointed to a professorship in the Tokyo University of Education (a forerunner of Tsukuba University). During the war he studied the magnetron, meson theory, and his super-many-time theory. In 1948, he and his students re-examined a 1939 paper by Sidney Dancoff that attempted, but failed, to show that the infinite quantities that arise in QED can be canceled with each other. Tomonaga applied his super-many-time theory and a relativistic method based on the non-relativistic method of Wolfgang Pauli and Fierz to greatly speed up and clarify the calculations. Then he and his students found that Dancoff had overlooked one term in the perturbation series. With this term, the theory gave finite results; thus Tomonaga discovered the renormalization method independently of Julian Schwinger and calculated physical quantities such as the Lamb shift at the same time.


In the next year, he was invited by Robert Oppenheimer to work at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He studied a many-body Problem on the collective oscillations of a quantum-mechanical system. In the following year, he returned to Japan and proposed the Tomonaga–Luttinger liquid. In 1955, he took the leadership in establishing the Institute for Nuclear Study, University of Tokyo. In 1965, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, with Julian Schwinger and Richard P. Feynman, for the study of QED, specifically for the discovery of the renormalization method. He died of throat cancer in Tokyo in 1979.


In recognition of three Nobel laureates' contributions, the bronze statues of Shin'ichirō Tomonaga, Leo Esaki, and Makoto Kobayashi was set up in the Central Park of Azuma 2 in Tsukuba City in 2015.