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Leon M. Lederman

Leon M. LedermanAKA Leon Max Lederman

Born: 15-Jul-1922
Birthplace: Manhattan, NY
Died: 3-Oct-2018
Location of death: Rexburg, ID
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Physicist
Party Affiliation: Democratic

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Researcher of neutrinos

Military service: US Army Signal Corps (WWII, 1943-46, 2nd Lt.)

American physicist Leon M. Lederman developed the neutrino beam method and demonstrated the doublet structure of leptons. In 1956 he discovered the long-lived neutral K-meson which had been predicted in theory, and the following year he proved a parity violation in pion and muon decay. In 1961-62, working with Melvin Schwartz and Jack Steinberger, he conducted what is now one of the most famous experiments in scientific history, the "two neutrino experiment", which identified the second such particle, the muon neutrino. In 1977 he discovered the upsilon particle, a previously unidentified particle nine times heavier than the proton, providing the first substantial evidence of the fifth or "bottom" quark.

Still, when the phone rang in his home at 5:45 AM on 19 October 1988, he was joking when he mumbled to his wife, "It's probably the Nobel Prize committee." It was, of course, and with Schwartz and Steinberger he won that year's Nobel Prize for Physics. In 1963 he proposed a facility that was eventually built as the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and from 1979-89 he served as Fermi's Director. He has long been critical of science literacy among Americans, and advocates a program of "Physics First" in education teaching physics before biology and chemistry instead of after. On at least two occasions, he has set up a table on urban sidewalks with a handmade sign that reads "Ask a Nobel-Prizewinning physicist", and answered physics-related questions from passers-by.

Father: Morris Lederman (laundryman)
Mistress: Minna Rosenberg
Brother: Paul
Wife: Florence Gordon (d. 1990, two daughters, one son)
Daughter: Rena (anthropologist)
Son: Jesse (investment banker)
Daughter: Rachel (lawyer)
Wife: Ellen Carr (m. 1981, until his death)

    High School: James Monroe High School, Bronx, NY (1939)
    University: BS Chemistry, City College of New York (1943)
    University: MS Physics, Columbia University (1948)
    Teacher: PhD Physics, Columbia University (1951)
    Teacher: Physics, Columbia University (1951-58)
    Professor: Physics, Columbia University (1958-72)
    Professor: Eugene Higgins Professor, Columbia University (1972-79)
    Administrator: Nevis Laboratories, Columbia University (1961-79)
    Professor: Frank E. Sulzberger Professor, University of Chicago (1989-92)
    Professor: Pritzker Professor of Science, Illinois Institute of Technology (1992-)

    Nobel Prize for Physics 1988 (with Melvin Schwartz and Jack Steinberger)
    National Medal of Science 1965
    Elliott Cresson Gold Medal of the Franklin Institute 1976
    Wolf Prize in Physics 1982 (with Martin L. Perl)
    Enrico Fermi Award 1992
    Guggenheim Fellowship
    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Director (1979-89)
    Academy of Achievement (1982)
    American Association for the Advancement of Science President (1990-93)
    American Physical Society Past President
    Al Franken for Senate
    America Coming Together
    Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Board of Sponsors
    Coalition for a Democratic Majority
    Chicago Museum of Science and Industry Board of Directors
    Council for a Livable World
    Council of American Science Writers Board of Directors
    Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
    Democratic National Committee
    Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
    Federation of American Scientists Board of Sponsors
    Friends of Hillary
    Hillary Rodham Clinton for US Senate Committee
    John Kerry for President
    Kerry Victory 2004
    National Academy of Sciences 1965
    National Committee for an Effective Congress
    Obama for America
    Science Debate 2008
    US Energy Department High Energy Physics Advisory Panel
    Weizmann Institute Board of Directors
    Jewish Ancestry
    Russian Ancestry

Official Website:

Author of books:
From Quarks to the Cosmos (1989, physics; with David Schramm)
The God Particle (1992, particle physics; with Dick Teresi)
Portraits of Great American Scientists (2001, biographies; with Judith A. Scheppler)
Symmetry and the Beautiful Universe (2004, physics; with Christopher Hill)

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