Hideki Yukawa

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Hideki Yukawa
Native name 湯川 秀樹
Born (1907-01-23)23 January 1907
Tokyo, Japan
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Kyoto, Japan
Nationality Japan
Fields Theoretical physics
Institutions Osaka Imperial University
Kyoto Imperial University
Imperial University of Tokyo
Institute for Advanced Study
Columbia University
Alma mater Kyoto Imperial University
Academic advisors Kajuro Tamaki
Influences Enrico Fermi
Notable awards <templatestyles src="Plainlist/styles.css"/>

Hideki Yukawa ForMemRS[1] FRSE (湯川 秀樹 Yukawa Hideki?, 23 January 1907 – 8 September 1981), was a Japanese theoretical physicist and the first Japanese Nobel laureate.


He was born as Hideki Ogawa in Tokyo and grew up in Kyoto. In 1929, after receiving his degree from Kyoto Imperial University, he stayed on as a lecturer for four years. After graduation, he was interested in theoretical physics, particularly in the theory of elementary particles. In 1932, he married Sumi Yukawa (スミ?), and his family name was changed to Yukawa; they had two sons, Harumi and Takaaki. In 1933 he became an assistant professor at Osaka University, at age 26.

In 1935 he published his theory of mesons, which explained the interaction between protons and neutrons, and was a major influence on research into elementary particles. In 1940 he became a professor in Kyoto University. In 1940 he won the Imperial Prize of the Japan Academy, in 1943 the Decoration of Cultural Merit from the Japanese government. In 1949 he became a professor at Columbia University, the same year he received the Nobel Prize in Physics, after the discovery by Cecil Frank Powell, Giuseppe Occhialini and César Lattes of Yukawa's predicted pion in 1947. Yukawa also worked on the theory of K-capture, in which a low energy electron is absorbed by the nucleus, after its initial prediction by G. C. Wick.[2]

Yukawa became the first chairman of Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics in 1953. He received a Doctorate, honoris causa, from the University of Paris and honorary memberships in the Royal Society,[1] Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Indian Academy of Sciences, the International Academy of Philosophy and Sciences[citation needed], and the Pontificia Academia Scientiarum.

He was an editor of Progress of Theoretical Physics,[3] and published the books Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (1946) and Introduction to the Theory of Elementary Particles (1948).

In 1955, he joined ten other leading scientists and intellectuals in signing the Russell–Einstein Manifesto, calling for nuclear disarmament.

Yukawa retired from Kyoto University in 1970 as a Professor Emeritus. Owing to increasing infirmity, in his final years he appeared in public in a wheelchair. He died at his home in Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, on 8 September 1981 from pneumonia and heart failure, aged 74. His tomb is in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto.

Solo violinist Diana Yukawa (ダイアナ湯川) is a relative of Hideki Yukawa.

Awards and honours

  • Imperial Prize (1940)
  • Academic Noma Award (1941)
  • Order of Culture (1943)
  • Nobel Prize in Physics (1949)
  • Elected a Foreign Member Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 1963[1]
  • Lomonosov Gold Medal (1964)
  • Order of the Federal Republic of Germany, Medal of Merit (1967)
  • Medal of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (1967)
  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun (1977)


  • Profiles of Japanese science and scientists, 1970 / Supervisory editor: Hideki Yukawa (1970)
  • Creativity and intuition : a physicist looks at East and West / by Hideki Yukawa ; translated by John Bester (1973)
  • Scientific works (1979)
  • Tabibito = The traveler / Hideki Yukawa ; translated by L. Brown & R. Yoshida (1982)

See also

See also


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  2. pp. 11–12, "K-Electron Capture by Nuclei", Emilio Segré, chapter 3 in Discovering Alvarez: selected works of Luis W. Alvarez, with commentary by his students and colleagues, Luis W. Alvarez and W. Peter Trower, University of Chicago Press, 1987, ISBN 0-226-81304-5.
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External links