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 interact with matter to produce electrons. Leon Lederman, Melvin Schwartz, and Jack Steinberger managed to create 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 heavier than an electron) was produced, proving the existence of a new type of neutrino, the muon neutrino. These particles, collectively called "leptons", could then be systematically classified in families.