Gian-Carlo Wick

Gian- Carlo Wick ( * October 15, 1909 in Turin, † April 20, 1992 in Turin ) was an Italian physicist, who made ​​important contributions to quantum field theory.


His father was a chemical engineer, his mother Barbara Allason (1877-1968) a well-known writer, translator of German literature and anti-fascist. The paternal grandfather had emigrated from Switzerland to Italy. In 1930 he received his degree ( Laurea ) in Turin under Gleb Wataghin with a thesis on the electron theory of metals and then spent a year in Göttingen and Leipzig to Werner Heisenberg. After another year in Turin, he was Enrico Fermi's assistant in 1932 in Rome. In 1937 he became professor of theoretical physics in Palermo, then in Padua before he took up in 1940 Fermi's successor in Rome ( on whose recommendation ). In 1946, he was followed by Fermi in the United States first in the University of Notre Dame, then to Berkeley. Rejecting the information requested in the McCarthy era oath ( even from his mother's side he had strong liberal views taken ) he went in 1951 to the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, where he remained until 1957, interrupted by stays at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and at CERN in Geneva. In 1957 he became head of the Theory Division at Brookhaven National Laboratory. In 1965 he became a professor at Columbia University in New York City, where he collaborated with Tsung- Dao Lee, and after his retirement at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa.

In 1967 he received the Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics. In 1968 he received the first Ettore Majorana price. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States and the Accademia dei Lincei (since 1994) since 1963.

Wick was an avid mountaineer. He was married twice and had two sons.


As a member of Fermi's group in Rome, he calculated, inter alia, with group theoretical methods, the magnetic moment of the hydrogen molecule, extended Fermi's theory of beta decay to the K-capture, in which he used insights from discussions with Ettore Majorana on particle-antiparticle symmetry, and presented one of the first establishes the correlation between range of forces and the mass of the exchanged bosons. He also worked on the deceleration of neutrons in matter, and joined a group of Italian physicists Gilberto Bernardini to that carried out in the vicinity of the Matterhorn experiments with cosmic rays (including measurement of the muon lifetime ). In the U.S., he delivered his fundamental contributions to quantum field theory, such as the Wick theorem in 1950, the time-ordered products of operators by expressing normal ordered. With Geoffrey Chew, he worked 1952 on the Impulsapproximation in the scattering theory and led by Eugene Wigner and Wightman Arthur Strong is a super- selection rules and internal parity of elementary particles. According to him, the transition from quantum field theory in Minkowski space to Euclidean space by Wick rotation is named ( imaginary to real time). From him and Maurice Jacob the Helizitätsformalismus comes to describe the scattering of elementary particles ( Jacob -Wick formalism ). Other focal points of his work were the meson theory of nuclear forces and the investigation of symmetry principles in physics, including with Tsung- Dao Lee, with whom he also studied the temperature-dependent vacuum structure of scalar quantum field theories (1971) and theories with indefinite metric.