The Nobel Prize in Physics 1988
Leon M. Lederman, Melvin Schwartz, Jack Steinberger
Leon M. Lederman
Born: 15 July 1922, New York, NY, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Batavia, IL, USA
Prize motivation: "for the neutrino beam method and the demonstration of the doublet structure of the leptons through the discovery of the muon neutrino"
Field: particle physics
In decays of certain elementary particles, neutrinos are produced, particles that occasionally can interact with matter to produce an electron. Leon Lederman, Melvin Schwartz and Jack Steinberger managed to produce a beam of neutrinos using a high energy accelerator. In 1962 they discovered that in some cases, instead of producing an electron, a muon (200 times more massive than the electron) was produced, showing the existence of a new type of neutrino, muonneutrino. These particles, called leptons, could be classified in families.