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Glen Oaks native wins ‘04 physics Nobel Prize

"It prepared me extremely well for my future endeavors," said Wilczek, who graduated from the Queens Village high school in 1967. "There were lots of opportunities for learning."After finishing high school, the Glen Oaks native attended the University of Chicago for his undergraduate studies before getting his master's degree and Ph.D. from Princeton University. He is married to his wife Betsy Devine and has a daughter, Amity, and lives in Cambridge, Mass.Wilczek, who is now a professor of physics and theoretical physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the high school offered many advanced placement classes that allowed him and about 30 other "core group" students to achieve higher levels of learning."We took a lot of classes together. We had a lot of excellent teachers, too," said Wilczek. "In retrospect, it was almost an ideal."Shortly after the October announcement that he had won the Nobel Prize, Wilczek said he and some of the other core group members from high school had dinner in Manhattan at Trattoria Del Arte on Seventh Avenue to celebrate and recall times at Martin Van Buren.Wilczek said the area was a great place to grow up in and some day he hopes to return to visit his old school. "I was very fortunate to grow up there," said Wilczek. "I'm grateful to the people of New York and the teachers I had... I'd love to go back sometime."Wilczek split the award and the $1.3 million prize with two other American colleagues who worked closely with him on their discovery of the "color force," the force between quarks in the protons and neutrons of an atom. The other winners were David Gross of the University of California, Santa Barbara and H. David Politzer of California Institute of Technology."The basic problem we solved is what were the forces that hold the atom together," said Wilczek. "We will be able to use it to understand how things work in the universe."Wilczek said his trip to Stockholm was "like a fantasy," a mixture of old world traditions and current topics of discussion."The whole country gets involved," said Wilczek. "It was an amazing time."He said the Nobel Prize ceremonies were very formal and it felt like being back in time, with three events requiring that he wear white coat, tails and tie. He attended a dinner with the Swedish royal family, where he discussed modern physics."It was like a fantasy come to life," said Wilczek. "A magical combination of 19th and 21st century." Reach reporter Peter A. Sutters Jr. by e-mail at or by phone at 718-642-0300 Ext. 173.

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