‘If he could live again he would want to be a biologist. I was not surprised; everything about Tomonaga, the beauty of his surroundings, his humanistic interests, his inner repose … suggested someone attuned to the rhythm of life as well as the physical laws of nature.’ (Karsh)
Tomonaga was born in Tokyo in 1906 and educated at KyotoUniversity, graduating in 1929. He went to Leipzig in Germany in 1937 to study nuclear physics and the quantum field theory with Werner Heisenberg, known for the Heisenberg ‘uncertainty principle’. On his return to Japan in 1939, he developed new approaches in fundamental physics and made many pioneering contributions to the field. In 1949 Oppenheimer invited him to study at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. His work was recognised in 1965 when he, Richard Feynman and Julian Schwinger were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for their contributions to quantum electrodynamics. As President of Tokyo University of Education (1956–1962), he was active in the worldwide crusade for the peaceful use of atomic energy.