Nobel prize to E. P. Wigner awarded in 1963 "for his contributions to the theory of the atomic nucleus and the elementary particles, particularly through the discovery and application of fundamental symmetry principles''. Co-winners M. Goeppert-Mayer and J. H. D. Jensen "for their discoveries of nuclear shell structure''
Wigner, E.P.; On the Consequences of the Symmetry of the Nuclear Hamiltonian on the Spectroscopy of Nuclei
Phys. Rev. 51 (1937) 106;
Reprinted in The Physical Review - the First Hundred Years, AIP Press (1995) CD-ROM.
The structure of the multiplets of nuclear terms is investigated, using as first approximation a Hamiltonian which does not involve the ordinary spin and corresponds to equal forces between all nuclear constituents, protons and neutrons. The multiplets turn out to have a rather complicated structure, instead of the S of atomic spectroscopy, one has three quantum numbers S, T, Y. The second approximation can either introduce spin forces (method 2), or else can discriminate between protons and neutrons
(method 3). The last approximation discriminates between protons and neutrons in method 2 and takes the spin forces into account in method 3. The method 2 is worked out schematically and is shown to explain qualitatively the table of stable nuclei to about Mo.
Related references See also M. A. Tuve, N. P. Heydenburg, and L. R. Hafstad, Phys. Rev. 50 (1936) 806;
W. Heisenberg, Z. Phys. 77 (1932) 1;
G. Breit, E. U. Condon, and R. D. Present, Phys. Rev. 50 (1936) 825;
Discovery of supermultiplet structure in nuclear spectroscopy.