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Fitch, Val Logsdon

Fitch, Val Logsdon, 1923–2015, American nuclear physicist, b. Merriman, Neb., Ph.D. Columbia, 1954. During World War II Fitch was drafted into the army and worked on the detonator for the atomic bomb at Los Alamos. After receiving his doctorate, he joined (1954) the faculty at Princeton, where he remained until he retired (1993). Fitch and co-researcher James Watson Cronin were awarded the 1980 Nobel Prize in Physics for a 1964 experiment that proved that certain subatomic reactions do not adhere to fundamental symmetry principles. Specifically, they proved, by examining the decay of K-mesons, that a reaction run in reverse does not merely retrace the path of the original reaction, which showed that the reactions of subatomic particles are not indifferent to time. The results also helped explain why matter-antimatter collisions in the aftermath of the big bang did not destroy all matter in the universe.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.