Nobels were not the only prizes announced last week – some recipients of the 2007 American Physical Society (APS) prizes were notified as well. And our very own Stan Brodsky of the SLAC theory group has been awarded the 2007 J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics! Congratulations Stan! We couldn’t be prouder.
The Sakurai Prize was established in 1984 in memorium to J.J. Sakurai with the purpose of recognizing and encouraging outstanding achievement in particle theory . It is normally awarded for theoretical contributions made at an early stage of the recipient’s research career.
The citation that will appear on Stan’s certificate is:
For applications of perturbative quantum field theory to critical questions of elementary particle physics, in particular, to the analysis of hard exclusive strong interaction processes.
Stan’s career has been devoted to the understanding of QCD (Quantum Chromodynamics) which is the theory behind the force that describes the strong interactions of quarks and gluons. Stan has been prolific, with 441 listings on the HEP SPRIES database. As of 2004, these papers gathered a total of roughly 20,000 citations, putting Stan 12th on the list of all-time top-cited HEP theory authors.
Stan wrote two seminal papers during his early career which formed the basis for this award. The first was co-authored by Glennys R. Farrar in 1973 with the title Scaling Laws At Large Transverse Momentum (sorry, you have to be registered or at a registered institution to get the full article from Physical Review). This was back in the day when quarks and gluons were just discovered and the theory of their interactions and their binding into hadronic states was being developed. Stan and Glennys showed that the probability of scattering between two mesons and/or baryons, A+B to C+D, is proportional to (or scales with) the total number of constituent particles bound inside the inital and final hadronic states A, B, C, and D. They went on to demonstrate that this scaling could be understood in the context of renormalizable theories, thus providing further evidence that QCD is renormalizable. The process of renormalization is a technique for handling divergences or infinities in a theory so that the theory can make testable, finite predictions. Stan and Glennys submitted this work just two months after the famous papers on asymptotic freedom by the 2004 Nobel prize winners Gross, Wilczek, and Politzer appeared in print.
Stan’s second early seminal work, entitled Exclusive Processes In Perturbative Quantum Chromodynamics, was co-authored with Peter Lepage in 1980. Here, they performed a systematic investigation of the scattering behavior of hadrons. They proved that at short distances these scatterings were dominated by interactions between the constituent quarks and gluons and that the resulting scattering rate was a rigorous prediction of QCD. In other words, at high enough energies (corresponding to short distances), the observed scattering between hadrons is actually a result of scattering between the constituent particles within the hadrons with a probability predicted by QCD. This is something that every particle theorist learns in kindergarten, takes for granted today, and provides the basis for all Tevatron and LHC calculations.
The prize will be presented to Stan at a special ceremonial session at the APS 2007 April meeting in Jacksonville, FL.