Columbia physics in the fifties: Untold tales

Joseph Sucher
Jan 1 2000

The life of a Columbia physics grad student in the 50s


The high point, for many of us, was the field theory course given by T.D. Lee, who then as now was wonderful in the clarity, depth, and eloquence of his presentation. Very occasionally he would reveal his ready wit. T.D. was on the Ph.D. final oral exam committee of my friend and classmate, Arthur Schwarzschild, together with Leon Lederman, Jack Steinberger, and Chien- Shiung Wu, Arthur’s thesis adviser.

We always referred to Chien-Shiung Wu as Madame Wu, perhaps by association with the first great female nuclear physicist, Madame Curie. She exuded a majestic aura. I first got to know her when I took her introductory course on nuclear physics. Several friends of mine became her research students and I would occasionally hear stories about her. She was an extremely hard worker and expected nothing less from her students.

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