Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics

Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics

Japan

Interviewed by
Beth Ann Williams
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Sir Anthony Leggett, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Leggett begins with recollections from his childhood as the son of two schoolteachers. He discusses studying classics at Oxford and having minimal science or math education. Leggett explains that he contemplated pursuing graduate studies in philosophy, but he met a priest who taught him complex mathematics concepts, leading to his interest in physics. He describes obtaining his second undergraduate degree in physics from Oxford, as well as his graduate studies in theoretical condensed matter physics under Dirk ter Haar. Then Leggett recalls going to UIUC for a postdoc with David Pines and also to Japan to study with Takeo Matsubara. Leggett discusses his appointment at Sussex University and his shift from low temperature physics into quantum mechanics. He reflects on accepting the offer to move back to UIUC as the endowed MacArthur Chair, as well as what it was like to receive the call about winning the Nobel Prize. The interview ends with Leggett sharing advice for physics students and reflections on his time teaching in Ghana.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Dr. Elliot H. Lieb, professor of physics emeritus and professor of mathematical physics at Princeton University. Lieb opens the interview discussing the primary differences between physical mathematics and mathematical physics, and he outlines how modern mathematical ideas have been used in physics. The interview then looks to the past, to Lieb’s childhood and adolescence in New York City, where his passion for physics began. Lieb discusses his experience as a student at MIT, particularly his political involvement during the McCarthy Era. He also mentions his time working at Yeshiva University, and compares the political sentiment there to that at MIT and other universities around the United States. He talks about the work he was able to do abroad in the United Kingdom, Japan, and Sierra Leone, and about the lessons he learned from each of these experiences. Eventually, Lieb returned to Boston and joined the applied math group at MIT, while also working on the six-vertex ice model. In 1975, Lieb moved to Princeton, where he has collaborated with a number of scientists on a variety of topics and papers, including the 1987 AKLT Model (Affleck, Kennedy, Lieb, and Tasaki). The interview ends with Lieb looking to a future of continued experimentation and collaboration on the subjects that interest him most.