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Nobel Prize in Physics recipient Leon Lederman to speak March 28

3/18/2008

Dr. Leon M. Lederman, recipient of the coveted Nobel Prize in Physics, will give two talks at Austin Peay State University on Friday, March 28, 2008.
There will be a general talk, free and open to the public, from 1-2 p.m., March 28 in the Music/Mass Communication Building Concert Hall.

Designed primarily for the American Association of Physics Teachers (TAAPT) meeting at APSU, the second talk, also open to the public, is slated for 7:30-9 p.m., March 28 in the Music/Mass Communication Building Concert Hall. A reception will follow.

Lederman, an experimental physicist, is director emeritus of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Ill. He founded the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora in 1986 and has served as its residence scholar since then.

Born in 1922 in New York to Jewish immigrants from Russia, Lederman received a bachelor's degree from the City College of New York in 1943 and a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1951. He joined the Columbia University faculty, eventually becoming the Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics.

Lederman took an extended leave from Columbia in 1979 to head up Fermilab, directing such physicists as David Kaplan. Lederman 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 serves as the Prizker Professor of Science.

Lederman is one of the main proponents of the “Physics First” movement, which seeks to rearrange the current high school science curriculum so physics precedes chemistry and biology.

Throughout his distinguished career, Lederman has received many honors. He received fellowships from the Ford, Guggenheim, Ernest Kepton Adams foundations as well as the National Science Foundation. He is a founding member of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel to the U.S. Department of Energy and the International Committee on Future Accelerators.

Among his many awards, he has received the National Medal of Science (1965) and the Wolf Prize for Physics (1982).

Without question, Lederman's crowning achievement occurred in 1988 when he, Melvin Schwartz of Mountainview, Calif., and Jack Steinberger of Geneva, Switzerland, were presented the Nobel Prize in Physics for their neutrino beam method and the discoveries made using this.

The experiment began when the three researchers were associated with Columbia University and was carried out at Brookhaven National Accelerator Laboratory on Long Island.

According to the Web site for the Nobel Prize in Physics 1988, the men were rewarded for work “that opened entirely new opportunities for research into the innermost structure and dynamics of matter.”

For more information about Lederman's visit to APSU, contact Dr. Spencer Buckner, associate professor of physics and astronomy, by telephone at (931) 221-6241 or e-mail buckners@apsu.edu. -- Dennie B. Burke