Lederman, Leon Max

Lederman, Leon Max

(lĕd`ərmən), 1922–2018, 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). He then taught at the Univ. of Chicago (1989–92) and the Illinois Institute of Technology (1992–2011). 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
(Hans Jakob Steinberger), 1921–2020, American physicist, b. Kissingen, Germany, Ph.D. Univ. of Chicago, 1948. He and a brother were sent to the United States in 1934 as the Nazis rose to power; the rest of the family joined them later.
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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. Lederman also led the team that discovered (1977) the bottom quark. Lederman was also a vocal advocate for science education and an author; among his books is The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question? (with D. Teresi, 1993).
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