Eugene Wigner facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
Eugene Wigner



Born 
Wigner Jenő Pál
November 17, 1902 
Died  January 1, 1995 
(aged 92)
Citizenship  American (post1937) Hungarian (pre1937) 
Alma mater  Technical University of Berlin 
Known for  Bargmann–Wigner equations Law of conservation of parity Wigner Dmatrix Wigner–Eckart theorem Wigner's friend Wigner semicircle distribution Wigner's classification Wigner distribution function Wigner quasiprobability distribution Wigner crystal Wigner effect Wigner energy Wigner lattice Relativistic Breit–Wigner distribution Modified Wigner distribution function Wigner–d'Espagnat inequality Gabor–Wigner transform Wigner's theorem Jordan–Wigner transformation Newton–Wigner localization Wigner–Inonu contraction Wigner–Seitz cell Wigner–Seitz radius Thomas–Wigner rotation Wigner–Weyl transform Wigner–Wilkins spectrum 6j symbol 9j symbol 
Spouse(s)  Amelia Frank (1936–1937; her death) Mary Annette Wheeler (1941–1977; her death; 2 children) Eileen ClarePatton Hamilton (1 child) (died November 21, 2010) 
Awards  Medal for Merit (1946) Franklin Medal (1950) Enrico Fermi Award (1958) Atoms for Peace Award (1959) Max Planck Medal (1961) Nobel Prize in Physics (1963) National Medal of Science (1969) Albert Einstein Award (1972) Wigner Medal (1978) 
Scientific career  
Fields  Theoretical physics Atomic physics Nuclear physics Solidstate physics 
Institutions  University of Göttingen University of Wisconsin–Madison Princeton University Manhattan Project 
Doctoral advisor  Michael Polanyi 
Other academic advisors  László Rátz Richard Becker 
Doctoral students  John Bardeen Victor Frederick Weisskopf Marcos Moshinsky Abner Shimony Edwin Thompson Jaynes Frederick Seitz Conyers Herring Frederick Tappert J O Hirschfelder 
Signature  
Eugene Paul "E. P." Wigner (November 17, 1902 – January 1, 1995) was a HungarianAmerican theoretical physicist, engineer and mathematician. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963 "for his contributions to the theory of the atomic nucleus and the elementary particles, particularly through the discovery and application of fundamental symmetry principles".
A graduate of the Technical University of Berlin, Wigner worked as an assistant to Karl Weissenberg and Richard Becker at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, and David Hilbert at the University of Göttingen. Wigner and Hermann Weyl were responsible for introducing group theory into physics, particularly the theory of symmetry in physics. Along the way he performed groundbreaking work in pure mathematics, in which he authored a number of mathematical theorems. In particular, Wigner's theorem is a cornerstone in the mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics. He is also known for his research into the structure of the atomic nucleus. In 1930, Princeton University recruited Wigner, along with John von Neumann, and he moved to the United States.
Wigner participated in a meeting with Leo Szilard and Albert Einstein that resulted in the EinsteinSzilard letter, which prompted President Franklin D. Roosevelt to initiate the Manhattan Project to develop atomic bombs. Wigner was afraid that the German nuclear weapon project would develop an atomic bomb first. During the Manhattan Project, he led a team whose task was to design nuclear reactors to convert uranium into weapons grade plutonium. At the time, reactors existed only on paper, and no reactor had yet gone critical. Wigner was disappointed that DuPont was given responsibility for the detailed design of the reactors, not just their construction. He became Director of Research and Development at the Clinton Laboratory (now the Oak Ridge National Laboratory) in early 1946, but became frustrated with bureaucratic interference by the Atomic Energy Commission, and returned to Princeton.
In the postwar period he served on a number of government bodies, including the National Bureau of Standards from 1947 to 1951, the mathematics panel of the National Research Council from 1951 to 1954, the physics panel of the National Science Foundation, and the influential General Advisory Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission from 1952 to 1957 and again from 1959 to 1964. In later life, he became more philosophical, and published The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences, his bestknown work outside technical mathematics and physics.
Wigner was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963 "for his contributions to the theory of the atomic nucleus and the elementary particles, particularly through the discovery and application of fundamental symmetry principles". The prize was shared that year, with the other half of the award divided between Maria GoeppertMayer and J. Hans D. Jensen.
Wigner died of pneumonia at the University Medical Center in Princeton, New Jersey on 1 January 1995. He was survived by his wife Eileen (died 2010) and children Erika, David and Martha, and his sisters Bertha and Margit.
Images for kids

Werner Heisenberg and Eugene Wigner (1928)

Jucys diagram for the Wigner 6j symbol. The plus sign on the nodes indicates an anticlockwise reading of its surrounding lines. Due to its symmetries, there are many ways in which the diagram can be drawn. An equivalent configuration can be created by taking its mirror image and thus changing the pluses to minuses.

The Chianti fiasco purchased by Wigner to help celebrate the first selfsustaining, controlled chain reaction. It was signed by the participants.