Yukawa Mind

Historical materials for a better understanding of Hideki Yukawa

“Yukawa’s blackboard”: Hideki Yukawa’s favorite blackboard

“I felt the aura of Dr. Yukawa from the blackboard.”


The comment of the student in the Graduate School of Science who wrote on Dr. Hideki Yukawa’s blackboard with a chalk for the first time was aired on TV news programs. Having been involved in the setup of Yukawa’s blackboard here in Japan, I felt the same when Yukawa’s blackboard traveled a long way from the United States and arrived in Japan. Dr. Yukawa’s favorite blackboard has blended completely into the everyday ambience of the Graduate School of Science. The blackboard is used every day in the discussions and seminars of graduate students. Yukawa’s blackboard has started its second life as a blackboard symbolizing “research and education.”

Hideki Yutaka was a visiting professor at Columbia University in the United States when he was informed that he won a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1949 (the paper on the meson theory that brought the Nobel Prize to Yukawa was written when he was in the School of Science, Osaka University (former Osaka Imperial University) located in Nakanoshima, Osaka, and Hideki Yukawa received his doctoral degree in recognition of this paper). The room that became unoccupied after Yukawa had left for Japan was later used by Professor T.D. Lee, who later received a Nobel Prize in Physics. With respect and care, Professor Lee continued to use the desk, blackboard and others that Yukawa had used. After a half century, Yukawa’s blackboard was relocated to Osaka University in March 2014. Thanks to the good wills of Professor Lee, who had an experience of working as the director of the center operated by RIKEN, and the courtesy of RIKEN, Yukawa’s blackboard has found its home at Osaka University. The ceremony to commemorate the arrival of Yukawa’s blackboard was attended by Osaka University President Toshio Hirano, Hideki Yukawa’s son and Yoichiro Nambu who was a professor emeritus of Osaka University. At this ceremony, I felt very lucky to be able to connect people through my affection for the blackboard. In fact, some people think I have a “blackboard fetish.”

Yukawa’s blackboard is installed in the communication space on the 7th floor of the Department of Physics building H of the Graduate School of Science so that students can use it freely. In these days, however, students are busy communicating using LINE, twitter and the like. They are not aware that they are just given free rein within the specific media formats and that they restrict their means of expression on their own. The blackboard is a canvas on which students can write their ideas freely. I want all students to use the blackboard at least once just to feel the aura of Dr. Yukawa. Once you use it, Yukawa’s blackboard will be part of your everyday student life and you will be surprised to find yourself standing on the verge of taking the next step.

Written by: Koji Hashimoto (Professor in Osaka University and Chairman of the Museum of Osaka University Yukawa Memorial Committee (as of 2020))

A graduate student of Osaka University writing a mathematical formula on Yukawa’s blackboard



Dr. Ryoji Noyori (then president of RIKEN) and Dr. T.D. Lee (professor who used the room previously occupied by Hideki Yukawa)