Profile: Yoichiro Nambu; February 1995; Scientific American Magazine; by Mukerjee; 3 Page(s)
Ifirst saw Yoichiro Nambu almost 10 years ago, from the back row of a graduate seminar in physics at the University of Chicago. A small man in a neat suit, he was sketching long, snaking tubes on the blackboard. Sometimes he said they were vortex lines, found in superconductors; other times he called them strings, connecting quarks. Mystified, and yet fascinated by a bridge between such disparate realms, I later asked him to be my thesis adviser.
Face to face, Nambu was still hard to understand. I was clearly not the first to try. Bruno Zumino of the University of California at Berkeley once recounted his own attempts: "I had the idea that if I can find out what Nambu is thinking about now, I'll be 10 years ahead in the game. So I talked to him for a long time. But by the time I fi- gured out what he said, 10 years had passed." Edward Witten of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N. J., explains: "People don't understand him, because he is so farsighted."