J. J. Sakurai

Jun John Sakurai (桜井 純, Sakurai Jun, January 31, 1933 – November 1, 1982) was a Japanese-American particle physicist and theorist.

Jun John Sakurai
Jun John Sakurai.jpg
Born(1933-01-31)January 31, 1933
DiedNovember 1, 1982(1982-11-01) (aged 49)
NationalityJapan, United States
Alma materBronx High School of Science
Harvard University
Cornell University
Known forSakurai and Napolitano
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Chicago
University of California, Los Angeles
California Institute of Technology
Universities of Tokyo and Nagoya
University of Paris at Orsay
Scuola Normale Superiore at Pisa
Stanford Linear Accelerator
CERN at Geneva
Max Planck Institute at Munich
Doctoral advisorHans Bethe

While a graduate student at Cornell University, Sakurai independently discovered the V-A theory of weak interactions.[1]

He authored the popular graduate text Modern Quantum Mechanics (1985, published posthumously) and other texts such as Invariance Principles and Elementary Particles (1964) and Advanced Quantum Mechanics (1967).

Life and careerEdit

J. J. Sakurai was born in Tokyo in 1933 and moved to the United States when he was a high school student. He studied Physics at Harvard and Cornell, where he proposed his theory of weak interactions. After receiving his PhD from Cornell in 1958 he joined the faculty at University of Chicago, becoming a full professor in 1964.[2] In 1970, Sakurai moved to the University of California, Los Angeles.

As a graduate student, he proposed the V−A theory of weak interactions, independently of Robert Marshak, George Sudarshan, Richard Feynman, and Murray Gell-Mann. In 1960, he published a paper[3] on the theory of strong interactions based on Abelian and non-Abelian (Yang-Mills) gauge invariance.

In that paper, he also pioneered the vector meson dominance model of hadron dynamics.[2]

Sakurai died from an aneurysm in 1982 during a visit to CERN.[4]


In addition to his published papers, Sakurai authored several textbooks. These include Invariance Principles and Elementary Particles (1964), Advanced Quantum Mechanics (1967), and Modern Quantum Mechanics. The third volume was left unfinished due to Sakurai's sudden death in 1982, but was later edited and completed with the help of his wife, Noriko Sakurai, and colleague San Fu Tuan.[5] Modern Quantum Mechanics is probably his most well known book and is still widely used for graduate studies today.[6]

Sakurai PrizeEdit

In 1984 the family and friends of J. J. Sakurai endowed a prize for theoretical physicists in his honor. The goal of the prize as stated on the APS website is to encourage outstanding work in the field of particle theory. Recipients receive a $10,000 grant, an allowance for travel to the ceremony, and a certificate citing their contributions to particle physics.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Nambu, Yoichiro (February 1983). "Obituary: Jun John Sakurai". Physics Today. 36 (2): 87. Bibcode:1983PhT....36b..87N. doi:10.1063/1.2915507. Archived from the original on 2013-09-29.
  2. ^ a b J. J. Sakurai, San Fu Tuan. Modern Quantum Mechanics: Revised Edition. Pearson Education, 1994. pg. vii
  3. ^ Sakurai, J. J. (1960). "Theory of strong interactions", Annals of Physics 11 (1), 1-48.
  4. ^ Sternheimer, Daniel (2019). "Fond memories of Julian and Clarice, especially involving Moshe Flato and Noriko Sakurai". Proceedings Of The Julian Schwinger Centennial Conference. Julian Schwinger Centennial Conference. p. 279.
  5. ^ J. J. Sakurai, San Fu Tuan. Modern Quantum Mechanics: Revised Edition. Pearson Education, 1994. pg. iii
  6. ^ Sakurai, Jun John; Napolitano, Jim (2011). Modern Quantum Mechanics. ISBN 978-0805382914.
  7. ^ "J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics".

Further readingEdit

  • Sakurai, J. J, and Jim Napolitano. Modern Quantum Mechanics. 2nd ed., Cambridge University Press, 2017. ISBN 978-1108422413.
  • Townsend, John S. A Modern Approach to Quantum Mechanics. 2nd ed., University Science Books, 2012. ISBN 978-1891389788.

External linksEdit