Leon M. Lederman

National Medal of Science

Physical Sciences

For systematic studies of mesons, for his participation in the discovery of two kinds of neutrinos and of parity violation in the decay of mu-mesons.

For systematic studies of mesons, for his participation in the discovery of two kinds of neutrinos and of parity violation in the decay of mu-mesons.

VIEW STATISTICS +

Birth
July 15, 1922
Age Awarded
43
Country of Birth
USA
Key Contributions
Quarks And Leptons
Awarded by
Lyndon Baines Johnson
Education
City College of New York
Columbia University
Areas of Impact
Theory & Foundations
Affiliations
Columbia University
Other Prizes
Nobel Prize
Enrico Fermi Award
Philip Hauge Abelson Prize
T

They call him the “Mel Brooks of physics.” While his research with quarks and leptons is hardly comedic, Leon Lederman never takes himself too seriously.

“It's human to want to make people laugh,” he told the New York Times in 1998. “It's part of teaching. Teaching is show business.”

This duty to educate the next generation plays a unique role in his career. A proponent of the “Physics First” movement, Lederman pushes for reform in high school science curriculum. Physics, he says, should be taught before biology and chemistry, fostering an early understanding of atomic structure.

These foundations, after all, are the basis of Lederman’s research.

In 1962, he discovered the muon neutrino, a subatomic particle.

“The best discoveries always seem to be made in the small hours of the morning, when most people are asleep … “ he said. “It's real. You've found something. There's just no feeling like it in the world." 

...