Physics Professor Emeritus Susumu Okubo will receive the American Physical Society’s J.J. Sakurai Prize for his outstanding work in theoretical particle physics.

“We are very lucky to have someone like Professor Okubo working at this university,” Head of the Physics and Astronomy Department Professor Arie Bodek said. “He can demonstrate to students the rewards of hard work and determination. And he has brought so much to his field.”

This award honors Okubo’s work in mathematical and theoretical expressions of the quark.

Okubo, who was unable to be reached for comment, is most known in his field for his Gell-Mann-Okubo mass formula that he published in his now famous paper “Note on Unitary Symmetry in strong interactions.”

“Quarks can be explained as fundamental particles of nature,” Bodek said.

Currently, the existence of the quark as well as its many different components and forms are well known and have been found experimentally.

However, 50 years ago the quark was unknown until Okubo’s experiments predicted their existence.

The discovery of these miniscule pieces of matter offer physicists a peek back into time when all forms of matter coexisted milliseconds after the big bang.

Bodek explained Okubo’s work.

“Many years prior to the discovery of quarks, he formulated mathematical relations between the masses and other properties of hadrons [protons and neutrons] and other particles composed of quarks, which set the groundwork for the quark model,” Bodek said.

As a result of this groundbreaking achievement Okubo has been honored with a myriad of awards, including the Nishina Prize in 1976 as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim in 1966 and the Ford Foundation in 1969.

UR is now one of two universities to be the recipient of two APS Panofsky Prizes in Experimental Particle Physics.

Physics Professor Ed Thorndike was a recipient of the Panofsky prize in 1999 while Bodek was awarded the prize in 2004.

Also outstanding are the two Nobel Prize winners and Rochester graduates, director of the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory Steve Chu and Professor at the University of Tokyo, Masatoshi Koshiba. Koshiba, was also Okubo’s roommate at UR.

While Okubo’s recognition is now coming too late to be considered for a Nobel Prize, his accomplishments and impact on the theoretical particle world have been vast.

“He has always been known as a great physicist,” Bodek said. “This award should have been given [to Okubo] 30 years ago.”

Edwards can be reached at cedwards@campustimes.org.



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