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Leon M. Lederman
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1988
Born: 15 July 1922, New York, NY, USA
Died: 3 October 2018, Rexburg, ID, 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."
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.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.