Leonard Susskind (born 1 January 1940, South Bronx) is the Felix Bloch Professor of Theoretical Physics at Stanford University, and Director of the Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics.
His research interests include string theory, quantum field theory, quantum statistical mechanics and quantum cosmology. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an associate member of the faculty of Canada’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and a distinguished professor of the Korea Institute for Advanced Study.
Susskind is widely regarded as one of the fathers of string theory, having, with Yoichiro Nambu and Holger Bech Nielsen, independently introduced the idea that particles could in fact be states of excitation of a relativistic string. He was the first to introduce the idea of the string theory landscape in 2003.
Susskind was awarded the 1998 J. J. Sakurai Prize.
Susskind was born to a poor Jewish family from the South Bronx section of New York City, and now resides in Palo Alto, California. He began working as a plumber at the age of 16, taking over from his father who had become ill. Later, he enrolled in the City College of New York as an engineering student, graduating with a B.S. in physics in 1962. In an interview in the Los Angeles Times, Susskind recalls the moment he discussed with his father this change in career path: “When I told my father I wanted to be a physicist, he said, ‘Hell no, you ain’t going to work in a drug store.’ I said no, not a pharmacist. I said, ‘Like Einstein.’ He poked me in the chest with a piece of plumbing pipe. ‘You ain’t going to be no engineer,’ he said. ‘You’re going to be Einstein.’” Susskind then studied at Cornell University under Peter A. Carruthers where he earned his Ph.D. in 1965. He has been married twice, first in 1960, and has four children.
Susskind was one of at least three physicists who independently discovered during or around 1970 that the Veneziano dual resonance model of strong interactions could be described by a quantum mechanical model of strings, and was the first to propose the idea of the string theory landscape. Susskind has also made contributions in the following areas of physics: