Harald Fritzsch

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Harald Fritzsch, 2011

Harald Fritzsch (born February 10, 1943 in Zwickau ) is a theoretical physicist who made important contributions to the theory of quarks , to the development of quantum chromodynamics and to the great unification of the standard model of elementary particles .


Harald Fritzsch is the son of the building contractor Erich Fritzsch from the Zwickau suburb of Reinsdorf . From 1957 to 1961 he attended the extended high school " Gerhart Hauptmann " in Zwickau, which he graduated with the Abitur . After that, from the summer of 1961, he was a soldier in the National People's Army of the GDR in Kamenz , where he was trained as a radio operator with the Air Force . He studied physics in Leipzig from 1963 to 1968 .

In 1968 he and a friend were the initiators of a risky, extremely high-profile protest against the demolition of the 700-year-old Pauline Church . Together with his friend Stefan Welzk, Fritzsch managed a daring escape by folding boat across the Black Sea from what was then the Eastern Bloc to Turkey in July 1968 . With the help of an outboard motor , they drove from the Golden Beach north of Varna to İğneada south of the border between Bulgaria and Turkey.

He continued his studies in Munich , where he worked with Werner Heisenberg and, under the supervision of Heinrich Mitter , received his doctorate in 1971 with a thesis on the algebraic structure of observables in strong interaction . A year earlier he was a PhD student at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center at Stanford University for six months . Here he started working with Murray Gell-Mann . After completing his doctorate, he went to the European Research Center CERN near Geneva for a year , where he again worked with Gell-Mann. He then moved with Gell-Mann to the California Institute of Technology ( Caltech ) in Pasadena .

Fritzsch and Gell-Mann introduced the color quantum number in 1971 , whereby the color symmetry was assumed to be an exact symmetry . With the help of the color quantum number, Gell-Mann and Fritzsch, together with William Bardeen, were able to explain the decay rate of the neutral pion . A year later, Fritzsch and Gell-Mann proposed a gauge theory for the strong interaction , which is now called quantum chromodynamics and is considered to be the correct theory of the strong interaction. In 1975 Fritzsch wrote a paper with Peter Minkowski in which the group SO (10) as the symmetry of the Great Unification was discussed for the first time. This theory is now considered the standard theory of the Great Unification. In the SO (10) theory, the neutrinos have a mass . The discovery of the neutrino oscillations in 1998 indicates a neutrino mass, in agreement with SO (10) theory.

Fritzsch also worked on "composite models" for leptons and quarks , on mass matrices of quarks and leptons, on weak decays of heavy quarks, on cosmology and on fundamental constants in physics. In 1979 Fritzsch developed a theory of the mass matrices of quarks and leptons in which certain elements disappear ( texture zero ). He can calculate the mixing angle as a function of the intrinsic mass values. The results can describe the experiments very well. Since the LHC particle accelerator was commissioned at CERN, Fritzsch has been working again on "composite models" of quarks, leptons and weak bosons . A substructure of the quarks should soon be discovered at the LHC, if Fritzsch's theory is correct.

From 1977 to 1978 he was a professor at the University of Wuppertal . The physicist and Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman visited Fritzsch in 1978 in Wuppertal and gave a colloquium to which listeners came from all over Germany . In 1979 Fritzsch moved to the University of Bern . Fritzsch has been a full professor at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich since 1980 . Fritzsch is a full member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences . Fritzsch often works at CERN in Geneva and at DESY in Hamburg . He has been retired since June 2008. Since then he has mainly worked abroad ( USA , Australia , China , Japan , South Africa , Singapore ).

Fritzsch is a member of the Society of German Natural Scientists and Doctors (GDNÄ). In 2003 and 2004 he was president of this society and chaired the large GDNÄ conference in Passau . Fritzsch is an honorary member of the Paulinerverein in Leipzig, which is committed to the reconstruction of the Paulinerkirche. Since 1998, together with Willibald Plessas, he has organized the conference on quantum chromodynamics and the standard model of elementary particle physics , which has already taken place seven times in Oberwölz in Styria . In February 2010 Fritzsch chaired a large international conference at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore on the occasion of Murray Gell-Mann's 80th birthday. Fritzsch organized the International Conference on Massive Neutrinos, which took place in Singapore in February 2015, the International Conference on New Physics at the "Large Hadron Collider" (Singapore, March 2016), a conference on Cosmology and Gravitational Waves in Singapore (February 2017) and a Particle Physics and Cosmology Conference in Singapore (March 2018).

His doctoral students include Dieter Lüst , Ulrich Baur and Marcus Hutter .

Acting as a publicist

Harald Fritzsch also made a name for himself as an author of popular science books . His book "Quarks", which appeared in Munich in 1981, has been translated into more than 20 languages. His book on cosmology “From the Big Bang to the Decay” was also successful .

In the mid-1980s Fritzsch produced the six-part television series “Mikrokosmos” at WDR in Cologne , which was shown many times in the third programs of German television companies.

In 1990, the first edition was published his autobiographical book "Escape from Leipzig," in which he made his opposition to the SED - regime and the subsequent escape to the West in 1968, describes. The book was published in English by World Scientific in 2008 under the title "Escape from Leipzig".

In his books, which appeared in 1992, Fritzsch chose a rare form of representation of knowledge: Isaac Newton , Albert Einstein and the fictional contemporary physicist Adrian Haller discuss difficult physical topics. In his book “A Formula Changes the World”, Newton, Einstein and Haller discuss Albert Einstein's special theory of relativity . In the book "The Bent Space-Time " Einstein's general theory of relativity is discussed. The book "The Absolutely Immutable" is dedicated to the fundamental natural constants . Discussions between Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman , Adrian Haller, Werner Heisenberg and Isaac Newton about quantum physics are described in the book “You are wrong, Einstein!” . In his non-fiction book "Elementarteilchen" Fritzsch describes today's standard model of particle physics . The book “Mikrokosmos” describes discussions between Albert Einstein, Murray Gell-Mann , Adrian Haller and Isaac Newton about modern particle physics and even cosmology. In 2015 Fritzsch published the textbook "Quantenfeldtheorie" in Springer-Verlag.


In 1994 Fritzsch was awarded the medal for scientific journalism of the German Physical Society for his successful book series . The Dirac Medal of the University of New South Wales in Australia received Fritzsch in 2008. The University of Leipzig awarded him on 16 May 2013, the honorary doctorate .


  • Quarks: primary substance of our world . Piper , 1981
  • From big bang to decay - the world between beginning and end . Piper, 1983
  • One formula changes the world - Newton, Einstein and the theory of relativity . Piper, 1988
  • Escape from Leipzig - A protest and its consequences . Piper, 1990
  • The bent space-time - Newton, Einstein and gravity . Piper, 1996
  • Elementary particles - building blocks of matter . Beck , 2004
  • as editor and co-author: Matter in Space and Time . Negotiations of the Society of German Natural Scientists and Doctors. 123rd Assembly September 18-21, 2004. Leipzig: Hirzel, 2005
  • The Absolutely Immutable - The Final Mysteries of Physics . Piper, 2005
  • You are wrong, Einstein! - Newton, Einstein, Heisenberg and Feynman discuss quantum physics . Piper, 2008
  • Microcosm - the world of the smallest particles . Piper, 2012
  • Quantum Field Theory - How to describe what holds the world together at its core . Springer Spectrum , 2015

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The banner is hanging, the alarm clock is ticking . Spiegel Online , March 1, 1990
  2. Dietrich Koch: Leipzig needs the university church ( Memento from February 1, 2001 in the Internet Archive )
  3. ^ H. Fritzsch, Murray Gell-Mann, H. Leutwyler: Advantages of the Color Octet Gluon Picture . In: Phys. Lett. B . tape 47 , no. 4 , 1973, p. 365-368 , doi : 10.1016 / 0370-2693 (73) 90625-4 .
  4. ^ Murray Gell-Mann : Physics adventures with Harald Fritzsch - Ceremonial Colloquium: Retirement Prof. Dr. Harald Fritzsch
  5. (1998, 2003 , 2006 , 2008 , 2010 , 2012 , 2014 and 2018 )
  6. Kompass - The city magazine for Zwickau and the surrounding area, Vogtland and Erzgebirge, edition 07/08/2009, p. 25