US physicist. With US physicists Hugh Politzer and Frank Wilczek, Gross shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2004 for his contribution to the theoretical explanation of how the strong nuclear force holds quark subatomic particles together.
Gross and his fellow Nobel laureates derived a theory to explain how the strong force, or the colour interaction, acts between quarks. Quarks are subatomic particles that make up protons and neutrons in the nucleus of an atom. Previously it was not understood how quarks could not be made to act as individual particles except at very high energies; the work by the laureates showed that the strong force acts to make the attraction between quarks increase with distance, so that the further apart they are, the stronger the force is that brings them back together, preventing individual quarks from leaving the nucleus. This work was detailed in two scientific publications published in 1971 and formed the basis of the theory of colour interaction known as quantum chromodynamics (QCD), which allowed the completion of the standard model of particle physics.
Gross was born in Washington, DC. He received a bachelor of science degree from Hebrew University, Jerusalem in 1962, and his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 1966. He moved to Princeton University, New Jersey in 1969 and was professor of physics there from 1973 to 1986. From 1968 to 1993, Gross held the position of visiting professor at a number of prestigious institutions, including CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, Switzerland), Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and the Ecole Normale Superieure in Lyons, France. He held the position of Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics at Princeton University from 1986 to 1989 and was the Jones Professor of Physics at that institution from 1995 to 1997. As of 2002, when the position was established, he has been the Fredrick W Gluck Professor at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. From 1997 he has also held the position of Jones Professor of Physics Emeritus at Princeton University. He was elected fellow of the National Academy of Sciences in 1985. In 2004 he was awarded the Grande Medaille d'Or, the highest scientific honour bestowed by France.
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