Shoichi Sakata - Influences


The 2008 physics Nobel laureates Yoichiro Nambu, Toshihide Maskawa and Makoto Kobayashi, who received their awards for work on symmetry breaking, all came under his tutelage and influence. The Nagoya Model was the inspiration for the later Cabibbo–Kobayashi–Maskawa matrix of 1973, which specifies the mismatch of quantum states of quarks, when they propagate freely and when they take part in weak interactions. Physicists however, generally attribute the introduction of a third generation of quarks (the "top" and "bottom" quarks) into the Standard Model of the elementary particles to that 1973 paper by Kobayashi and Maskawa.

Kent Staley (2004) describes the historical background to their paper, emphasizing the largely forgotten role of theorists at Nagoya University and the "Nagoya model" they developed. Several of the authors of the Nagoya model embraced the philosophy of dialectical materialism, and he discusses the role that such metaphysical commitments play in physical theorizing. Both theoretical and experimental developments that generated great interest in Japan, and ultimately stimulated Kobayashi and Masukawa's 1973 work, went almost entirely unnoticed in the U.S. The episode exemplifies both the importance of untestable "themata" in developing new theories, and the difficulties that may arise, when two parts of a research community work in relative isolation from one another.

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