David Gross was fascinated by the mysterious world of physics since childhood. He was enchanted by the evolution of riddles, and how from cracking one riddle, yet another one emerges.
When he received his doctorate degree from Harvard University, he was challenged with the following riddle: I am whimsical, no one has ever seen me but I am the origin of existence – and I am not God. Gross knew that the answer is a small mischievous being whose name is taken from James Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake”.
Quark is one of the ancestors of the world of particles. Until now it was only seen in groups. It belongs to the family of “elementary particles” – the fundamental particles of matter known in physics today.
Until the discovery of the Quark, it was commonly believed that the atom’s nucleus consists only of protons and neutrons. However, this is the riddle: protons carry positive charge and therefore reject one another. Why then doesn’t the nucleus come apart? Well, it does not.
Physicists assumed that yet another anonymous force in involved within the nucleus, a force that attaches protons and neutrons to each other in spite of the electric rejection. this force is the quark.
Prof. Gross was born to a Jewish family that immigrated from Austro-Hungary and settled in the U.S.A. He discovered the “Strong interaction” and led a scientific breakthrough which contributed to the formulation of a comprehensive theory which may explain all natural phenomena. For this achievement he was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 2004.