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Nobel Laureate Jerome Friedman Exhorts Students to Find Their Passion
The 2016 Nobel Laureates Lecture at NTHU was delivered by Professor Jerome Friedman, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1990 for his work showing an internal structure for later known to be . In a talk titled “The Observation of Quarks in the Proton” Friedman shared his experience in research and life in general with an audience consisting of the NTHU community, high school students, and the general public. He encouraged university students to find their passion and then fully apply themselves to it, and to choose a job they would really look forward to going back to every Monday morning.
As a high school student Friedman excelled in art and spent two or three hours a day painting and drawing. He was offered a scholarship to study at the but turned it down in order to study physics after reading a book on written by . As for contemporary education in physics, he laments that it generally begins with detailed theories and memorizing formulas, but that it would be better to start off by getting students interested in physics, and to save the more in-depth topics for university.
To all those present it is apparent that Friedman has a passion for physics. He said that when he comes home from work he often scribbles his ideas down on paper; seeing this, his wife urges him to relax, to which he customarily replies that this is how he relaxes.
Friedman was born in Chicago in 1930 to Jewish immigrants from Russia. His parents received little in the way of formal schooling, and had to work very hard just to make a living, yet they gave great importance to their children’s education, including music and art. He believes that this may be why when thinking about physics or other subjects, what appears in his mind are images rather than formulas. To this day, Friedman continues to paint and draw, and his work has been displayed at a local art gallery in Chicago.
Friedman also said that he was delighted to learn that Chinese families also give much importance to their children’s education and see literacy as the foundation of learning. During his visit to Taiwan he also gave a talk to the students attending the Madame Curie High School Chemistry Camp, and said that their curiosity and thirst for knowledge left a deep impression on him.
While attending the University of Chicago, Friedman studied under Nobel laureate Enrico Fermi, world-renowned for his work in both theoretical and experimental physics. Fermi was also the advisor and main professor of Lee and Yang in the 1940s, and Friedman’s first important research position involved verifying the model of parity violation they proposed in 1956.
In 1960 Friedman joined the physics faculty of the (MIT). Afterwards he joined Stanford University's Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) and began working on electron scattering experiments (using high-energy electrons accelerated to the speed of light to hit a particular substance in order to study the detailed composition of that substance). From 1967–1975 he and his colleagues at SLAC conducted a series of scattering experiments which provided the first experimental evidence that have an internal structure, later known to be quarks. This groundbreaking research led to their being awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.
Between 1983 and 1988 Friedman served as the director of MIT’s Department of Physics, and also served as Chairman of the Scientific Policy Committee of the Superconducting Super Collider Laboratory. Since retiring he has been giving interviews and talks worldwide, and takes every opportunity to introduce basic physics to students and the general public. His unique educational background and broad interest in the humanities and arts make his talks highly edifying for students in a wide range subjects.
This year’s Nobel Laureates Lecture at NTHU was delivered by Jerome Friedman, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1990.

This year’s Nobel Laureates Lecture at NTHU was delivered by Jerome Friedman, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1990.

Professor Jerome Friedman (center) with Taiwanese students.

Professor Jerome Friedman (center) with Taiwanese students.

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