More about Myself
What you did not know about myself.
- Christian Background
Do you know how Christianity came to Korea? American missionaries? They strengthened Christianity, but Koreans already had churches before they came to Korea.
Click here for the history of this church.
Without electricity and without running water, my birth place was a backward village. On the other hand, it was the home of the first Presbyterrian church in Korea. I grew up in the Chritian tradition. My Chritian background is much stronger than those of my American colleagues in physics. Indeed, this is one of my secret weapons in the competitive academic world.
- Click here for
the church I attended during my childhood years.
Based on my Christian bacground, I produced the following webpages for me and my colleagues in science.
- Story of Nicodemus.
I met Paul A. M. Dirac (Nobel 1933). I was like Nicodemus who met Jesus (Story in
the Gospel of John). Who was Nicodemus?
- Moses talked to God. I talked to
- Herod complex. Psychology among Academicians.
- Garden of Eden. God created one woman for Adam, but
he created two women for me. I have the same number of ribs on both sides. When I was
a child, my grandmother told me I have one less rib on my right side because God pulled out one
rib from a man to make one woman,
- Story of Nicodemus. I met Paul A. M. Dirac (Nobel 1933). I was like Nicodemus who met Jesus (Story in the Gospel of John). Who was Nicodemus? Click here.
- High School Background in Korea.
Everybody goes to high school in the United States. It was not true in Korea until recent years. There were a number of elite high schools only exceptional boys or girls could attend. They had to pass tough entrance examinations to enter those schools. I was fortunate enough to enter one of those schools.
General Taylor was interested in Korea's high school system, because he needed high school
graudates to produce officers in the Korean army. He wanted to vist the best high school
I claim that I attended the best high school in the world. On what basis?
- I got my PhD degree from Princeton University seven years after
my high school graduation (not after college graduation).
- My class of 1954 produced three Harvard PhDs, two Princeton PhDs, one
MIT PhD, one PhD from the UC Berkeley, plus many others in various fields.
- Click here for my high school years in Korea.
You would agree that I went to the best high chool in the world. Who agrees with me on this "best" issue. Click here.
- I got my PhD degree from Princeton University seven years after my high school graduation (not after college graduation).
- College Life in the United States
In 1954, after my high school graduation in Korea, I became a freshman at the
Carnegie Instutute of Technology (now called Carngegie Mellon University)
During my freshman year in 1955, I heard the news that Albert Einstein died
at a hospital in Princeton, and American newspapers and magazines talked
about him extensively. He was became a God-like figure.
I then decided to go to Princeton to meet Einstein. How can you meet the person in Heaven? Yet, Einstein's name was this strong, and I am not the only person who wanted to go to Princeton to meet Einstein. Many ambitious boys wanted to Princeton to meet Einstein.
On March 12, 1958, I received a letter from Princeton Universtiy telling me I ranked very high among the 15 students admitted to the graduate program. This was the happiest day in my life.
Going to Princeton meant working with Einstein, but the reality at Princeton was quite differerent.
During the Workd War II, the United States had to develop and produce nuclear bombs. The leading phycisist in this field was Enrico Fermi of the University of Chicago.
During the "Cold War" years (1950-64), the bomb issue was so strong that Princeton's physics department was dominated by the people from Chicago. They were Marvin Goldberger and Sam Treiman from Chicago.
They were excellent physicists, and my thesis advisor was Sam Treiman. He was an excellent teacher. He taught me how to write articles in logical and stylish ways. However, there was another important question. Did he have a brain sharp enough to add anything to Einstein's research line? We shall return to this question later in this article.
I was born and raised in a Korean village without electricity and running water. This village is now in North Korea. Korea (both south and north) had been one country for more than 4,000 years. The country was annexed to the Empire of Japan (indutrialized) in 1910. Japan surrendered to the allied forces in 1945, and Korean Punishes was occupied by two different armies. The army of the United States and the army of the Soviet Union. The dividing line was the 38th Parallel.
My birth place was north of this dividing line, and was occupied by the Soviet army. The Soviet authorities started building their puppet government in the North, which eventually became the Kingdom North Korea.
My grandfather was a well-to-do land owner, and my family moved to the South to in 1946 to avoid the communist rule being set up there.
Click here for more about my birth place.
However, there was a more important responsibility: to become famous, famous enough to bring research money to the University. The University then takes 50% of the money for providing the facility for my research, including the cost of administration and facilities. The cost of facilities includes the maintenance of the presidential mansion of the University.
In my field of physics, the funding mostly comes from the government agencies called the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy. Their budgets come from American taxpayers.
Thus, the promotion in academic ranks depend largely on how much money one can bring to the University. In this game, I totally failed, and my promotions became delayed by 20 years. I came to the University in 1962 and became a full professor in 1992. I takes normally ten years to become a full prof after the initial appointment. It took me 30 years.
1966-86. I had to retrain myself in order to become Einstein's Princeton man.
In 1965, while I was struggling as an assistant professor, Princeton found a geneous of the
century. His name was Roger Dashen. He was a fresh PhD from Caltech. He was appointed as
a full professor at the Institute fo Advanced Study (institute created for Einstein).
His appointment was based on his paper claiming that he calculated the mass proton-neutron
mass difference, using the bootstrap theory which was a popular number-producing mechanism
popular at that time.
With my own Herod complex, I became very unhappy and examined his published paper where Dashen calculated the mass neutron-proton mass difference, using the "boostrap theory," which was a popular mechanism at that time. This mechanism allows us to produce one measrable number from another measurabel number.
However, the reaction from the physics community became strongly against me. The reaction was
Under this enviroment, I was almost fired from the Univsersity of Maryland. The only person who could save was Sam Treiman who was my thesis advisor at Princeton. I contacted him and he asked me to come to Princeton and explain the situation. I went there I explained what Dashen did, and what I did in detail.
- However, he did not have enough brain power to understand my explanation. He became
very angry and told me not to come to Princeton again.
- When I was a student there, he used call me "Oriental Fellow," openly and loudly.
He had a racial prejudice against me. This prejudice was beyond my control.
Korea appeared like a backward country to Americans at that time.
- In the meantime, the University of Maryland did a careful examination of my case, and I was found to be correct. This delayed my promotion by one year, but this is a minor delay. The United States was very nice to me.
This was the end of my connection with Sam Treiman. Does this mean that this was the end of Princeton connection? Princeton was and still carrying Einstein's name and Wigner's name. I had to build a new route to Princeton. How?
After my complete break down with Sam Treiman in 1966, I became convinced that Wigner was isolated from Princeton because the physicists there did not have the brain power to undertand Wigner's papers. They could not resolve Dashen's case, known widely as Princeton's Dashen-Frautchi Fiasco.
The issue was the paper Wigner published in 1939 which became the mathematical framework for internal space-time symmetries particles in Einstein's relativistic world. While he was workong on this paper, Princeton thought he was so crazy and useless. He was fired, and was exiled to to the University of Wisconsin at Madison (remote midwestern place at that time). He completed his paper there. Click here for Wigner's 1939 paper which he completed while at the University of Wisconsin.
I thus studied this paper with my younger colleagues for 20 years and published a number of papers. One of my papers published in 1986 contained this table:
In 1986, I went to Princeton and showed this table to Wigner. Wigner became very happy because the table clearly defines Wigner's position in Einstein's genealogy.
Wigner then asked me to publish with him new papers on this subject. Why new papers? When he wrote this paper in 1937 (published in 1939), there were no particle moving fast enough to show the effect he wanted to discuss in the paper. This is the reason why the physicist in his generation thought he was crazy.
Things became quite different after 1965. The accelerators routinely produced tons of protons moving with speed very close to that of light. Murray Gell-Mann invented the quark model where the proton is a quantum bound state of more fundamental particles called the quarks. Thus, quantum mechanics of moving bound sates became the fundamental issue. To make a long story short, you are invited to one of my review papers on this subject. For this paper, Click here
It took me 20 from 1966. During these years, I had to live in isolation.
Why is my case so unusual to Americans? The short answer to this question is that I have my Korean root, different from those of my American colleagues.
To Americans, the ultimate value is money. College professors have to bring money from the outside world to get their promotions. This is very strange to Koreans.
To Koreans, the ultimate value is Jokbo (Genealogy). A decedent of a famous person in history. I has to choose my Korean way to live. I have chosen Albert Einstein as the famous person with the following table.
Click here for a published article on the quatum mechanics of
moving bound states (including the hydrogen atom).