Lederman, Leon Max

Lederman, Leon Max

(lĕd`ərmən), 1922–, American physicist, Ph.D. Columbia, 1951. He was a professor at Columbia until he became director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill. (1979–89). In the early 1960s, Lederman and co-researchers, Melvin SchwartzSchwartz, Melvin,
1932–2006 American physicist, b. New York City, Ph.D. Columbia, 1958. He was on the faculty at Columbia (1958–66, 1991–2000, emeritus 2000–2006) and Stanford (1966–83).
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 and Jack SteinbergerSteinberger, Jack,
1921–, American physicist, b. Kissingen, Germany, Ph.D. Univ. of Chicago, 1948. He was a professor at Columbia from 1950 until 1971. In the early 1960s, Steinberger and co-researchers, Leon Lederman and Melvin Schwartz, developed the neutrino beam method
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, developed the neutrino beam method for studying weak interactionsweak interactions,
actions between elementary particles mediated, or carried, by W and Z particles and that are responsible for nuclear decay. Weak interactions are one of four fundamental interactions in nature, the others being gravitation, electromagnetism, and the strong interactions.
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 and used it to make discoveries about elementary particle physics, including a new type of neutrinoneutrino
[Ital.,=little neutral (particle)], elementary particle with no electric charge and a very small mass emitted during the decay of certain other particles. The neutrino was first postulated in 1930 by Wolfgang Pauli in order to maintain the law of conservation of energy
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 (a particle with no detectable electric charge or mass that moves at the speed of light). This led to the development of a new scheme for classifying families of subatomic particles. In 1988, Lederman, Schwartz, and Steinberger were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery.