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Nobel laureate Leon Lederman dies at age 96

Nobel laureate Leon Lederman dies at age 96

Leon Max Lederman (1922, New York), celebrated researcher and accomplished science writer who won the 1988 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of the muon neutrino and served as Fermilab's director from 1978 to 1989, sadly passed away on October 3rd.

Lederman championed the use of accelerators to uncover new physics. With two colleagues, Jack Steinberger and Melvin Schwartz, he demonstrated, early in his career, that there must be at least two types of neutrinos. They produced a beam of neutrinos using a high-energy accelerator and observed that occasionally muons were produced instead of electrons. In 1988, they shared the Nobel Prize in Physics "for the neutrino beam method and the demonstration of the doublet structure of the leptons through the discovery of the muon neutrino."

At Fermilab, Lederman oversaw the construction of the Tevatron, the most powerful accelerator of its time, and brought together an international community of particle physicists who would determine the course of the field. Those who knew him speak of a charismatic leadership, witty charm and attentive manner.

At Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1965, Lederman and his team found the first antinucleus. At Fermilab, in 1977, his team discovered the bottom quark. Not only was Lederman a great researcher, he was also passionate about science education. Lederman endeavored throughout his 60-year career to share his joy of physics with everyone, often through jokes. He explained new research to the world in popular talks and science books, the most famous of which is probably The God Particle, named so because his editor would not allow him to describe the elusive Higgs boson as "the Godd-damn particle".