The Sorae Church. I went to this church during my childhood years.
Click here for the history
of this church.
- I was born in 1935 at a Korean village called Sorae, where
Koreans set up their first Presbyterian church in 1884. Horace
Underwood was the first American Presbyterian missionary who came to
Korea in 1885. Upon hearing about this church, he went to Sorae
and noted that this village is near a beautiful scenic beach called
Kumipo. He built his house there. Then, many other Americans
came to Kumipo to build their summer houses.
My grandfather was one of Underwood's trusted Korean friends.
He was a well-to-do landlord, and took care of Underwood's properties
at Sorae and Kumipo while he was busy in the capital city of Seoul.
Underwood set up a Christian college in Seoul which became one of
the leading universities in Korea, called
I attended this Sorae church when I was a child, and grew up
in the thoroughly Christian environment.
Click here to expand this photo.
Elementary school in Sorae under Japanese occupation. Students and teachers
had to bow toward the Japanese emperor in the morning before the school hours.
- Korea was occupied by Japanese military imperialists from 1910 to
1945. I had to attend my elementary school run by Japanese. We had
to speak Japanese while in school, and bow toward East
(Japanese Emperor in Tokyo) every morning before school hours.
Here is a photo of my elementary
school in Sorae with students and teachers.
- Unfortunately, Korea became divided in 1945 after World War II, and
the village of Sorae is now under the control of the North Korean
regime which was installed in 1948 by Joseph Stalin of the Soviet
Union. My family moved to Seoul in 1946 before 1948.
- Do you know how Korea was divided in 1945?
I met Richard Underwood in Urbana, Illinois, USA (2003).
- In 2003, I was fortunate enough to meet Richard Underwood, Horace Underwood's
youngest grandson, in Urbana, Illinois, USA. We talked about Sorae and Kumipo.
He was a Korean-speaking member of the American team at the Panmunjon Cease-Fire
talks (1951-53) during the Korean war (1950-53).
He is the author of the
NLL, the dividing like between North and South in the West Sea of Korea. He was
was eager to see his house at Kumipo from the South.
- Click here for my Korean background.
- How was Korea divided in 1945? Click here.
Click here to expand this photo.
My high school had a beautiful campus. It was heavily damaged during
the Korean war (1950-53). The campus was rebuilt after the war.
- In Seoul, I finished my elementary school and went to six
years of high school education from 1948 to 1954.
- Alas, the Korean
War broke out in 1950 and lasted until 1953. The school campus was
damaged and the students had to study at temporary places until the
cease fire was signed in July of 1953.
for my stories of the Korean war (1950-53).
- These days, it is meaningless to talk about one's high school
background, but everybody thinks his/her school is best in the world.
I have a good reason to say that I attended the best high school in
the world. Click here for my reasoning.
Click here for
comparable high schools in the world.
Another excellent high school in Budapest, Hungary.
In this photo of 1954, I am shaking hands with General Maxwell
Taylor who was the commander of the U.S. Forces in Korea. Under him
were more than 300,000 combat-ready American troops.
General Taylor was a scholarly man and was keenly interested in Korea's
educational system. He wanted to visit the best high school in Korea.
He asked his Korean secretary which school to visit. The Korean
secretary told Taylor about the high school he attended. He is also
in this photo (far left).
- Click here for my high-school diary.
Undergraduate Years (1954-1958)
Princeton Years (1958-1962)
Period of Adjustments (1962-1966)
- In July of 1962, I became an assistant professor of physics at
the University of Maryland, near Washington, DC. This is a photo of
the physics faculty taken in the spring of 1963, and I am the youngest
person in this photo. The life was not easy for me in the highly
competitive academic world, where everybody is afraid of his/her
colleague becoming more famous than himself/herself.
- This is a human nature which can be described as
Among my colleagues, there were several people who got turned down from
Princeton and went to other good graduate schools. Those people were
extremely nasty to me. However, I always got help from appropriate
persons whenever I was in difficult positions. The point is that I
pursued my own research line strange to others.
What is the job of the youngest faculty member? In September of 1962,
Paul A. M Dirac (Nobel 1933) visited the University of Maryland at the
invitation of John S. Toll, the chairman of the Department of Physics. Toll
assigned me to serve as the personal assistant to Dirac. This gave me
the valuable opportunity to learn physics directly from him.
Click here to see what learned from him.
- The most rewarding aspect of my life at the University of Maryland
is that the campus is near the city of Washington, DC.
There are many politicians in the Greater Washington area, but there
are far more scientists in this area. They are providing necessary
wisdom to the government. Here are the photos
from this interesting city.
- Even though I am away from Princeton, I used to think the ultimate
wisdom in physics comes from Princeton. However, in 1965, I realized that
Princeton is not necessarily the holy place in physics.
Click here for my explanation.
This does not mean that I lack respect for Princeton's historical figures
such as Albert Einstein and Eugene Wigner. I do not have to mention
those Princeton people I dislike, because their names do not exist in
the history of physics.
Years of Struggle (1966-1979): Most Valuable Years!
- After losing my confidence in Princeton's leadership [which did not include
Eugene Wigner (Nobel 1963)], I decided to construct my own research line. It was
- I continued studying
Wigner's 1939 paper on the inhomogeneous Lorentz group. I started
studying this paper when I was a student at Princeton. It was a
frustrating experience because people did not know how to use this
mathematical formalism for understanding physics.
- I noticed also a blank point in history. During the early years of
the 20th Century, Niels Bohr was worrying about the hydrogen atom, while
Einstein was interested in how things look to moving observers. They met
occasionally to discuss physics. If they talked about moving hydrogen atoms,
there are no written record on this issue.
- The question then is whether the Bohr-Einstein issue of the hydrogen
can be interpreted in terms of the scientific language Wigner
constructed in 1939.
- We can summarize what I said above with the following figure.
Photos of Bohr and Einstein are from the public domain.
In 1978, with my younger colleagues, I wrote a paper saying that Wigner's
1939 paper plays an essential role in studying moving quantum bound states,
like the hydrogen atom or the proton in the quark model. I submitted
this paper to the Journal of Mathematical Physic in late 1978, and
it appeared in the Journal in early 1979.
Here is the paper.
- If Bohr and Einstein did not discuss the moving hydrogen atom, it is
understandable. There were and still are no hydrogen atoms fast enough
to show the effect of Einstein's relativity.
- During the latter half of the 20th Century, high-energy accelerators
started producing protons moving with speeds close to that of light.
However, the proton is not a hydrogen atom. In 1964, Murray Gell-Mann
formulated the quark model of hadron where the proton is a quantum bound
state of more fundamental particles called "quarks." In this way,
Gell-Mann was able to explain the mass spectra of other particles
appearing in high-energy physics.
While the proton is a quantum bound state, just like the hydrogen atom,
it can move with speed close to that of light. For this ultra-fast
proton, Feynman observed a number of peculiarities. This observation is
called "Feynman's parton picture." Thus the Bohr-Einstein issue of the
hydrogen atom is translated into the question of Gell-Mann's quark model
and Feynman's parton picture can be explained in terms of Einstein's
- Click here for more about
the quark-parton puzzle.
- Click here for the wide-open physics world.
Dirac Years (1979-1986)
My photo with Driac's bust at the Fine Hall Library
of Princeton University.
- After publishing
my paper on the Poincaré group
in 1979, I found out I was not the first person to worry about moving
hydrogen atom. I then studied the papers written by early pioneers.
Paul A. M. Dirac (Nobel 1933) devoted much of his professional life to
constructing quantum mechanics in Einstein's relativistic world.
He wrote beautiful sentences, and his papers are like poems, but there
are no figures in his papers. I then translated Dirac's poems into
cartoons and illustrations. With those figures, it is easy to integrate
Dirac's papers into one. The net effect is then the Bohr-Einstein
issue of how the hydrogen atom appears to moving observers, or how the
hydrogen atom appears when it moves fast.
- In this figure, the hyperbola is
for Einstein's relativity and the
circle is quantum mechanics of the proton or the hydrogen atom
(localized probability distribution according to quantum mechanics).
It has a probability distribution along the
spacial axis (according to Bohr, Schroedinger, and Heisenberg). It
also has a distribution along the time axis according to Dirac.
When the system moves, the hyperbola remains the same according to
Einstein. On the other hand, the circle becomes squeezed to ellipse,
while maintaining the contact point with the hyperbola.
- Then where does this result stand in history? Historically
our unified understanding of scattering and bound states has
been very brief. Comets (scattering) and planets (bound states)
were quite different until Isaac Newton produced his equation of
motion. In atomic and nuclear physics, they were separate issues
until Schroedinger and Heisenberg produced their formulas.
In Einstein's world, they are again separate issues. For scattering
problems, quantum field theory is a satisfactory scheme for dealing
with scattering problems. For the bound-state, we have to deal with
the problem using the mathematical procedure given here.
The question then is whether the scattering and bound states in
Einstein's relativistic world can be derived from the same set of
equations. The answer is YES. This set is called the inhomogeneous
Lorentz group or the Poincaré group. With my younger colleagues,
I published many articles and books on this subject. My
latest book is entitled "Physics of the Lorentz group: Beyond
High-energy Physics and Optics," published in 2021 by the British
Institute of Physics.
Click here to expand this figure.
Dirac and Feynman in Poland (1962). Dirac was a poet and Feynman was a
cartoonist. It is fun to translate Dirac's poems into cartoons.
- The mathematics of the circle becoming squeezed into an ellipse
is simple enough.
The question is whether this effect can be
observed in the real world. Indeed, Gell-Mann's quark model
and Feynman's parton picture are routinely observed in high-energy
laboratories. They can be described in terms of this simple
mathematics. Click here for my the
- I met Dirac in 1962. I was like
Nicodemus meeting Jesus. Who was Nicodemus? Go to the Gospel of John
in the New Testament.
- After going through Dirac's papers, I was able to see my own
talent. I am effective in integrating the works of earlier creative
scientists, as illustrated in this figure.
It was late, but not too late.
- Click here to see how
I conneted these lakes.