1902, Budapest - 1995, Princeton
He was born on 17 November, 1902 and accomplished the secondary school in Budapest.
He studied chemical engineering at the University of Berlin, but he was fascinated by the new discoveries in physics. His thesis, which discussed the evolution of the hydrogen molecule, can be considered as the first work in quatum chemistry. He discovered the role of space-time symmetry in quantummechanics (1929).
He moved to the United States in 1930 and obtained citizenship in 1937.
In 1934, he thought that Szilárd's idea to induce chain reaction using neutrons was good and they worked out the theory together.
Szilárd and he convinced Einstein to sign the letter to president Roosevelt. In frame of the Manhattan project, he - with Szilárd, Neumann, Teller, Fermi and others - also participated in the research work done followed by the letter. He worked on designing the plutonium production reactor, which produced material for the first atomic bomb.
He took part in the development of the first nuclear reactor and its start on December 2, 1942.
He designed the first high-power water cooled reactors. These are the safe reactor types that are used widely today. Nearly 80% of the presently operating nuclear power plants in the world are of this type. In this construction, the cooling water is the moderator in one, therefore, if cooling disappears there will not be slow neutrons any more and consequently the chain reaction will stop. The number of his reactor patents exceed 30, besides these. Weinberg, his student and colleague said about him rightly that "Wigner was the first reactor engineer in the world".
His quantum mechnaical works are also significant, for example he declared the principle of conservation of barion charge (1949).
In 1963 he won Nobel prize in physics, for his contribution to the theories of nucleus and elementary particles, mainly for discovering and applying basic symmetry principles.
He did all his best in order that nuclear energy be used for peaceful purposes. He obtained the USA Atoms for Peace prize.
He always talked about his native country and tutors. He visited home regularly and in 1983 he visited the Paks NPP.
Eugene Wigner, when visiting the Paks NPP at the age of 81.