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
Prize share: 1/3
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.