The Nobel Prize in Physics 1988
Leon M. Lederman, Melvin Schwartz, Jack Steinberger
Born: 25 May 1921, Bad Kissingen, Germany
Affiliation at the time of the award: CERN, Geneva, Switzerland
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. Jack Steinberger, Leon Lederman and Melvin Schwartz 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.