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James W. Cronin

James W. CroninAKA James Watson Cronin

Born: 29-Sep-1931
Birthplace: Chicago, IL
Died: 25-Aug-2016
Location of death: St. Paul, MN
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Physicist
Party Affiliation: Democratic

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Time not necessarily reversible

American astrophysicist James W. Cronin showed that certain subatomic reactions do not adhere to fundamental symmetry principles. Inspired by a paper written by Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen Ning Yang concerning the conservation of parity during certain nuclear reactions, Cronin and his colleague Val Fitch showed in 1964 that, in addition to the already understood pattern of decay of neutral kaons (wherein one type of kaon could decay into two separate pions, but the other type could not) the other type of kaon actually could decay into two pions, under certain circumstances. This violated the principles of CP symmetry (combination of C symmetry and P symmetry) that were thought to govern neutral K-mesons, showing that the decay of kaons is asymmetrical with respect to time reversal, and that the laws of nature are applied differently to matter and antimatter. For their work, Cronin and Fitch shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1980.

Father: James Farley Cronin (taught Greek and Latin at SMU, d. 1959)
Mother: Dorothy Watson
Wife: Annette Martin (m. 1954, three children)
Son: Daniel
Daughter: Cathryn
Daughter: Emily

    High School: Highland Park High School, Dallas, TX (1947)
    University: BS Physics and Mathematics, Southern Methodist University (1951)
    University: MS Physics, University of Chicago (1953)
    University: PhD Physics, University of Chicago (1955)
    Scholar: Physics, Brookhaven National Laboratory (1955-58)
    Teacher: Physics, Princeton University (1958-64)
    Scholar: Center for Nuclear Studies, Saclay, France (1964-65)
    Professor: Physics, Princeton University (1965-71)
    Professor: University Professor of Physics, University of Chicago (1971-)
    Scholar: Enrico Fermi Institute, University of Chicago (1971-)
    Professor: Physics, University of Utah (1997-)

    Research Corporation Award 1968 (with Val Fitch)
    Wetherill Medal of the Franklin Institute 1976 (with Val Fitch)
    E. O. Lawrence Award 1977
    Nobel Prize for Physics 1980 (with Val Fitch)
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences 1967
    American Physical Society 1999
    Dean for America
    Federation of American Scientists Board of Sponsors
    National Academy of Sciences 1970
    National Science Foundation Fellow (1952-55)
    Scientists and Engineers for America

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