UCSB Physicist Awarded for String Theory Discovery

Deems His Findings “Pretty Neat,” Will Travel to Italy for Medal

Perhaps no one is more surprised that UCSB physics professor Joseph Polchinski won the 2008 Dirac Medal than Polchinksi himself. He didn’t even know he had been nominated for the award, which honors those who have made significant advancement in the fields of theoretical physics, computational chemistry, or mathematics.

Polchinski, a member of UCSB’s Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, won this year’s award for his discovery that string theories are more complex than previously though and consist of more structures than just one-dimensional strings. “What about sheets and even higher-dimensional things?” Polchinski said in a press release. “It turns out these things are in there, too, in a somewhat different, non-obvious way.”

The Dirac Medal is named for Paul A.M. Dirac, a British physicist who discovered quantum mechanics. Polchinski, who modestly summed up his findings as “pretty neat,” will travel to the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy, in March 2009, where he will collect both his medal and a cash prize. He will also lecture at the Centre next year.

This is probably the highest honor I’ve ever received : and it may be the highest honor I’ll ever get,” said Polchinski in the press release.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Observed Altercation Leads to State Street Car Chase

Crash at De la Vina and Alamar precedes hours-long search for occupant.

Santa Barbara County Sets Carpinteria Cannabis Grow Cap

Neighborhood activist Anna Carrillo scores a victory in limiting pot acreage.

Evacuees Across Santa Barbara County Allowed Back Home This Evening

Mandatory evacuation order lifted for all burn areas.

New Scam Involves ‘Ground Stability Testing’

Fake 'land tech' tried to enter a home on the Westside.

Family Sues Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office for Wrongful Death

Five deputies shot Bryan Carreño 20 times.