Oral History Interviews

Interviews that offer unique insights into the lives, works, and personalities of modern scientists

Yoichiro Nambu discusses the decline in the quality of physics students in the 1960s.

Oral history audio excerpt

Yoichiro Nambu discusses the decline in the quality of physics students in the 1960s.

Ashrafi:

Did it change much in the time you were here?

Nambu:

Yes, that is an interesting question. All the people were getting older, though not quite died away yet. I was getting to be one of the senior members. And I must say that the quality of the people, starting from Fermi’s days, was getting lower. The quality of students was also low, during the 60s in particular. That was a problem with me, how to train and use these students. In the ‘60s people did mostly phenomenology. The students were given just phenomenological problems, basically data analyses. That was all they did. These people have completely disappeared since then because they could not catch up with the revolution in particle theory that occurred in the ‘70s, like asymptotic freedom, supersymmetry, topological excitations, new flavors, Kobayashi-Maskawa theory, emergence of the Standard Model ... Unfortunately I myself started to lag behind because of my chairmanship. But I also started to get recognition. So in the ‘70s I was more or less involved in all sorts of administration and other things. Then the ‘80s were a really bad time for me because of my family problems; my parents died and my son died. It was a horrible time for me actually.