In her introduction, Heather Templeton Dill praises Dr. Wilczek as “one of those rare and wonderful individuals who bring together a keen intellect and an appreciation of the transcendent beauty of our world.”
Dr. Frank Wilczek received the Nobel Prize in 2004 with two others for their 1973 groundbreaking description of the strong force or “color force”, one of the four fundamental forces of nature. Acting in the nucleus, this force holds quarks together creating protons and neutrons. Their work revealed a seemingly contradictory phenomenon, known as asymptotic freedom–that the closer the quarks were, the weaker the force between them; the farther away the stronger the force.
Later in his career, Wilczek proposed the existence of “axions,” particles that are now thought to explain dark matter. These have yet to be confirmed, but Wilczek and collaborators from Stockholm University have developed a “metamaterial” to detect these elusive particles.
Ten years ago he also predicted a quantum state of matter nicknamed “time crystals.” He describes them as “self-organized clocks” that simply spontaneously arise. These have now been created in a lab and may play a role in quantum computers which will need a compatible, accurate clock.
Dr. Wilczek describes his work as a physicist this way:
“The central miracle of physics to me is the fact that by playing with equations, drawing diagrams, doing calculations, and working within the world of mental concepts and manipulations, you are actually describing the real world.”
As an author, he has ventured into the realm of philosophy bringing physics with him in considerations of order, beauty, and the nature of space and matter. His books include titles such as Longing for the Harmonies: Themes and Variations from Modern Physics (1989), The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces (2010), A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature’s Deep Design (2015), and the most recent Fundamentals: 10 Keys to Reality (2021).
In Longing for the Harmonies, Wilczek and science writer Betsy Devine (his wife) describe the order found throughout all of nature, from the tiniest particles to the cosmos itself.
In The Lightness of Being, Wilczek examines the nature of space and concludes that it is a dynamic material in which matter can be described as a subtle pattern of disturbance. In his 2015 book, A Beautiful Question, he explores the beauty of the world both as we experience it as humans but also as it is described by mathematical laws and equations.
Through his work as a physicist and pondering of what it all might mean, he muses:
“In studying how the world works, we are studying how God works, and thereby learning what God is.” — Frank Wilczek, Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality
Congratulations, Dr. Wilczek!