Sheldon Lee Glashow

Sheldon Lee Glashow

Glashow, Sheldon Lee, 1932-, American physicist, b. New York City, Ph.D. Harvard, 1959. He became a professor at the Univ. of California at Berkeley in 1961 before moving to Harvard in 1967. He helped develop important theories of electromagnetic and nuclear particle interaction that affected subsequent research on quarks and leptons. In 1979, Glashow shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Abdus Salam and Steven Weinberg.

Sheldon Lee Glashow (born December 5, 1932) is an American physicist. He is the Metcalf Professor of Mathematics and Physics at Boston University.

Birth and education

Sheldon Lee Glashow was born in NYC to Jewish immigrants from Russia. He attended the Bronx High School of Science in New York City. He was a friend of Steven Weinberg. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell University in 1954 and a Ph.D. degree in physics from Harvard University in 1959 under Nobel-laureate physicist Julian Schwinger. He was a visiting professor at MIT in 1974


In 1961, Glashow extended electroweak unification models due to Schwinger by including a short range neutral current , the Z0. The resulting symmetry structure that Glashow proposed, SU(2) X U(1), forms the basis of the accepted theory of the electroweak interactions. For this discovery, Glashow along with Steven Weinberg and Abdus Salam, was awarded the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics.

In collaboration with John Iliopoulos and Luciano Maiani, Glashow was the first to predict the charm quark, which he originally named the "charmed quark". This work showed that the quark pairs would largely cancel out flavor changing neutral currents, as well as removing a technical disaster for any quantum field theory with unequal numbers of quarks and leptons- an anomaly.

In 1973, Glashow and Howard Georgi proposed the first grand unified theory. They discovered how to fit the gauge forces in the standard model into an SU(5) group, and the leptons into two simple representations. Their theory qualitatively predicted the general pattern of coupling constant running, with plausible assumptions, it gave rough mass ratio values between third generation leptons and quarks, and it was the first indication that the law of Baryon number is inexact, that the proton is unstable. This work was the foundation for all future unifying work.

Superstring theory

Glashow is a notable skeptic of Superstring theory due to its lack of experimentally testable predictions. His departure from the Harvard physics department has been linked to the department's recent embrace of string theory.

He is also a member of the Board of Sponsors of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists


  • The charm of physics (1991) ISBN 0-88318-708-6
  • From alchemy to quarks : the study of physics as a liberal art (1994) ISBN 0-534-16656-3
  • Interactions : a journey through the mind of a particle physicist and the matter of this world (1988) ISBN 0-446-51315-6
  • First workshop on grand unification : New England Center, University of New Hampshire, April 10-12, 1980 edited with Paul H. Frampton and Asim Yildiz (1980) ISBN 0-915692-31-7
  • Third Workshop on Grand Unification, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, April 15-17, 1982 edited with Paul H. Frampton and Hendrik van Dam (1982) ISBN 3-7643-3105-4
  • "Desperately Seeking Superstrings?" with Paul Ginsparg in Riffing on Strings: Creative Writing Inspired by String Theory (2008) ISBN 9780980211405

External links

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