Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Leon Lederman

Leon Max Lederman is an American experimental physicist and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate for his work with neutrinos. He is Director Emeritus of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Illinois. He founded the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, in Aurora, Illinois in 1986, and has served in the capacity of Resident Scholar since 1998.

Lederman graduated from the James Monroe High School in the South Bronx. He received his bachelor's degree from the City College of New York in 1943, and received a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1951. He then joined the Columbia faculty and eventually became Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics. He took an extended leave of absence from Columbia in 1979 to become Fermilab's director. He resigned from Columbia and Fermilab in 1989 and taught briefly at the University of Chicago before moving to the Illinois Institute of Technology, where he currently serves as the Pritzker Professor of Science. In 1991, Lederman became President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Lederman is also one of the main proponents of the "Physics First" movement. Also known as "Right-side Up Science" and "Biology Last," this movement seeks to rearrange the current high school science curriculum so that physics precedes chemistry and biology.

A former president of the American Physical Society, Lederman also received the National Medal of Science, the Wolf Prize and the Ernest O. Lawrence Medal. Lederman serves as President of the Board of Sponsors of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. He was called a "modern day Leonardo Da Vinci" by the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

Among his achievements are the discovery of the muon neutrino in 1962 and the bottom quark in 1977. These helped establish his reputation as among the top particle physicists.

In 1988, Lederman received the Nobel Prize for Physics along with Melvin Schwartz and Jack Steinberger for "for the neutrino beam method and the demonstration of the doublet structure of the leptons through the discovery of the muon neutrino". Among the Nobel Prize and other honors, Lederman received the National Medal of Science (1965), the Cresson Medal for Physics (1976), the Wolf Prize for Physics (1982) and the Enrico Fermi Award (1993).