Yang-Mills theory

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Video conference

Interview with Mikhail Shifman, Ida Cohen Fine Professor of Theoretical Physics at the William I. Fine Theoretical Physics Institute at the University of Minnesota. The interview begins with Shifman’s thoughts on the differences between the physics community in Russia versus the US, as well as his thoughts on the future of supersymmetry. Then Shifman turns to his family history and memories of growing up Jewish in Russia under Communist rule. He describes his early interests in math and physics, and he recalls that reading Feynman’s lectures (translated into Russian) swayed him toward physics. Shifman recounts his undergraduate education at the Moscow Institute for Physics and Technology, where he had access to many great Russian physicists. He discusses his decision to focus on high energy physics and his graduate studies at the Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics (ITEP). Shifman recalls the November Revolution and its implications for his PhD research which led to the penguin mechanism. Then Shifman discusses being hired by ITEP after his PhD, and he overviews his research areas such as gluon condensate, axions, and his work connecting Yang-Mills with supersymmetry. Shifman recalls his decision to immigrate to the US and the offer that led him to the University of Minnesota, as well as the cultural shift and transition that came with that move. He recounts the honor of receiving the Sakurai Prize, as well as his many book projects. Toward the end of the interview, Shifman talks about his more recent work in supersymmetric solitons, shares his thoughts on the future of the Standard Model, and reflects on the impact of SVZ sum rules.