Abraham Pais

Abraham Pais (/peɪs/; May 19, 1918 – July 28, 2000) was a Dutch-American physicist and science historian. Pais earned his Ph.D. from University of Utrecht just prior to a Nazi ban on Jewish participation in Dutch universities during World War II. When the Nazis began the forced relocation of Dutch Jews, he went into hiding, but was later arrested and saved only by the end of the war.[2] He then served as an assistant to Niels Bohr in Denmark and was later a colleague of Albert Einstein at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Pais wrote books documenting the lives of these two great physicists and the contributions they and others made to modern physics. He was a physics professor at Rockefeller University until his retirement.

Abraham Pais
Abraham Pais
Abraham (Bram) Pais
BornMay 19, 1918
Amsterdam, Netherlands
DiedJuly 28, 2000 (aged 82)
Copenhagen, Denmark
ResidenceNetherlands, United States, Denmark
NationalityDutch, American
Alma materUniversity of Amsterdam, University of Utrecht
Known forG-parity
Treatment of SU(6) symmetry breaking
Coining the term "Standard Model"[1]
Lila Lee Atwill
Ida Nicolaisen
AwardsAndrew Gemant Award (1993)
Scientific career
InstitutionsRockefeller University
Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
Niels Bohr Institute
Doctoral advisorLéon Rosenfeld

Early life

Pais was born in Amsterdam, the first child of middle-class Dutch Jewish parents. His father, Isaiah "Jacques" Pais, was the descendant of Sephardic Jews who migrated from Portugal to the Low Countries around the beginning of the 17th century. His mother, Kaatje "Cato" van Kleeff, was the daughter of an Ashkenazi diamond cutter. His parents met while studying to become elementary-school teachers. They both taught school until his mother quit when they married on December 2, 1916. His only sibling, Annie, was born on November 1, 1920. During Pais's childhood his father was an elementary schoolmaster, headmaster, and later the headmaster of the Sephardic Hebrew school.

Pais was a bright student and a voracious reader during his early education and said he had a happy childhood and felt integrated in Dutch society.[3] At age twelve he passed examinations to enter a higher burgher school and attended a school in Amsterdam with a five-year curriculum of basic subjects. He passed his final examinations as number one in his class. He graduated with a working knowledge of English, French, and German.

Higher education

In the fall of 1935 Pais began his studies at the University of Amsterdam without a clear idea regarding his desired career. With an interest in the exact sciences, he gradually gravitated to chemistry and physics as major subjects, and mathematics and astronomy as minor subjects. In the winter of 1936/1937 his career goals were defined by two guest lectures by George Uhlenbeck, professor of theoretical physics at University of Utrecht. Pais was fascinated by Uhlenbeck's discussion of Enrico Fermi's incorporation of the neutrino into the theory of beta radiation.

On February 16, 1938, Pais was awarded two Bachelor of Science degrees in physics and mathematics, with minors in chemistry and astronomy. He began attending graduate courses in Amsterdam, including those in physics. He soon became disappointed by the only professor there in theoretical physics, Johannes Diderik van der Waals, Jr. (the son of the 1910 Nobel laureate Johannes Diderik van der Waals), whom he found dull and averse to the new developments in physics. Pais soon wrote to Uhlenbeck at Utrecht and was granted an interview. During the remainder of the spring term he discontinued attending classes in Amsterdam and made several trips to visit Uhlenbeck in his laboratory.

In the fall of 1938 Pais enrolled for graduate classes at University of Utrecht. Uhlenbeck, however, spent that term as a visiting professor at Columbia University in New York City. He left Pais with the use of his laboratory and a list of topics to study and work on. Pais was soon exposed to other prominent Dutch physicists and areas of research in experimental physics. He became well-acquainted with Hendrik Casimir, a physics professor at Leiden University who lectured at Utrecht twice a week on quantum physics. When Uhlenbeck returned from America, he brought news of a meeting he had attended in Washington, D.C., in which Niels Bohr and Enrico Fermi had first made public their news about nuclear fission. Uhlenbeck also announced that he would be leaving in the summer of 1939 for a professorship at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

In the fall of 1939 Pais dedicated himself to preparing for his master's degree. Utrecht experimental physicist Leonard Salomon Ornstein provided him guidance in his independent physics studies. Uhlenbeck, in anticipation of his departure, introduced Pais to physicist Hendrik Anthony Kramers at Leiden University, who became his mentor and friend. He was also influenced then by discussions with Léon Rosenfeld of the University of Liège, who was invited to Utrecht to give a colloquium in an effort to find a successor for Uhlenbeck and reported on the work he was then doing with Christian Møller on the meson theory of nuclear forces.

Pais successfully passed the examination for his master's degree on April 22, 1940. On May 7 the Dutch minister of education appointed Rosenfeld to succeed Uhlenbeck at the University of Utrecht. On May 8 Pais wrote to Rosenfeld at Liège to ask if he might continue his studies under him if his appointment came through, and again on May 9 to congratulate him on his appointment. On May 10, 1940, the Germans invaded the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, disrupting the mail between Utrecht and Liège for months.

After mail service was restored, Pais again wrote to Rosenfeld in Liège. In the meantime Pais had been appointed as Rosenfeld's assistant — Kees van Lier, who had been Uhlenbeck's assistant and was to continue as such under Rosenfeld, had committed suicide following the German invasion. Rosenfeld approved of his appointment and arrived at Utrecht in September 1940 and Pais began working on his doctoral dissertation.

Rosenfeld proposed that for his thesis Pais should formulate Rosenfeld and Møller's meson theory in terms of the five-dimensional space known as projective relativity theory, and then to use this theory to calculate the probability for the disintegration of deuterons when irradiated by energetic photons. Pais set to work studying projective relativity, meson theories, and nuclear physics related to the deuteron.

In November 1940 the German authorities issued a decree banning Jews from all civil service positions, including academic posts. Pais therefore lost his assistant professorship, though Rosenfeld secretly arranged for his successor to unofficially share the responsibilities and salary of the position with Pais. Professor Leonard Ornstein, however, lost his directorship of and access to the laboratory and died a broken man on May 20, 1941. A subsequent German decree ordered that doctorate degrees could not be issued to Jews after June 14, 1941. Pais worked feverishly to complete his dissertation and meet other requirements for his doctorate. He obtained his doctoral degree in theoretical physics on June 9, just five days before the deadline. His was the last Ph.D. issued to a Dutch Jew until after the war.

German occupation

During his student years Pais had been involved in the Zionist movement, through which he became acquainted with Trusha (Tirtsah) van Amerongen and Tina (Tineke) Strobos, and developed a close friendship with these two women and their families.

The Germans began to gradually restrict the activities of the Dutch Jews and in early 1942 required them to wear yellow stars. At first Pais felt safe because his former university status exempted him from being sent to a labor camp. In early 1943, however, the Dutch secretary general of internal affairs, Frederiks, made arrangements for the university Jews to report to Barneveld for their own safety, where they would be housed in a chateau. Pais did not trust that and instead went into hiding. Those who reported to Barneveld were later sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp where most of them did survive.

His friend Tina Strobos was not Jewish and thus was free of restrictions and threat of incarceration. She arranged hiding places for Pais and other Jews in Amsterdam. When the Germans began forcing the Dutch Jews into a ghetto in the old Jewish quarter of Amsterdam, his sister Annie and her husband Hermann complied. Tina found them a place to hide, but despite Pais's urgent pleas for them to take advantage of it, they did not think it necessary. Annie was later killed at the Sobibór extermination camp. Tina had found refuge for Pais's parents on a farm outside Amsterdam where they survived the war. She also acted as a courier between Pais and his parents during the war, though neither knew of the other's specific location.

His last hiding place was in an apartment with his university friend Lion Nordheim, his wife Jeanne, and her sister Trusha van Amerongen. In the course of his hiding he kept in touch with the scientific community through visits at his hiding place by Hendrik Anthony Kramers and Lambertus Broer. Jeanne and Trusha had blond hair and blue eyes and ventured out in public as non-Jews, while Lion and Pais hid in the apartment. In March 1945, however, they were betrayed and all four were arrested. The same week the Americans had crossed the Rhine and cut the rail lines, making impossible their transfer to a concentration camp. The women were soon released. After a month of interrogation by the Gestapo, Pais was released several days before the end of the war. Nordheim was executed ten days before the end of the war.

Career in particle physics

During World War II, Pais's doctoral dissertation had attracted the attention of Niels Bohr, who invited him to come to Denmark as his assistant. Pais was forced into hiding before he could leave the Netherlands. In 1946, following the war, Pais was able to accept that invitation and served as a personal assistant to Bohr at his country home in Tisvilde for a year.

In 1947 he accepted a position at the Institute for Advanced Study in the United States and thus became a colleague of Albert Einstein.

In 1949 he became corresponding member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.[4]

For the next 25 years he worked on elementary particle theory with a primary interest in quantum field theory and symmetry. The technical contributions for which he is recognized include a precise definition of G-parity with Res Jost, and his treatment of SU(6) symmetry breaking.

He is primarily associated with two concepts that directly contributed to major breakthroughs in his field. The first was the idea of "associated production" to explain the puzzling properties of strange particles. His ideas and those of Murray Gell-Mann resulted in the idea of a quantum number called strangeness. The second concept was Pais's and Gell-Mann's theory regarding the composition of the neutral kaons, proposing that the observed states were admixtures of particles and antiparticles, having different lifetimes; this was experimentally confirmed in the following year by Lederman and collaborators. In 1956, Pais became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

In 1963 Pais accepted a position at Rockefeller University to head the theoretical physics group while Rockefeller was in transition from being a medical institute to a university. He finished his career there as the Detlev W. Bronk professor emeritus.

In 1979, Pais was awarded the J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize.[5][6]

Science historian

In the late 1970s Pais became interested in documenting the history of modern physics. He felt he was in a unique position to do so, having known many of the key people and with his knowledge of the language, culture, and science.

Pais was perhaps best known for his biography of Albert Einstein, "Subtle is the Lord—": The science and the life of Albert Einstein (Oxford University Press, 1982),[7] and its sequel, Einstein Lived Here (Clarendon Press/Oxford University Press, 1994).[8] "Subtle is the Lord—" won the 1983 U.S. National Book Award in Science.[9][a]

His Inward Bound: Of matter and forces in the physical world (Clarendon Press/Oxford University Press, 1988) describes the events in physics during the preceding 100 years, and tries to explain why they happened as they did.[10][11][12]

In 1991 he published Niels Bohr's Times: In physics, philosophy, and polity (Clarendon Press/Oxford University Press, 1991) which describes the life and scientific contributions of Bohr.[13]

In 1995 he teamed with Laurie M. Brown and Sir Brian Pippard to compile a three-volume reference collection of articles portraying the scientific and cultural development of modern physics in Twentieth Century Physics (American Institute of Physics and the Institute of Physics, U.K., 1995). That same year Rockefeller University awarded him the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science.

A Tale of Two Continents: A physicist's life in a turbulent world (Princeton University Press, 1997) was his autobiography. It refers to the 'esemplastic power of the imagination'.

His book The Genius of Science: A portrait gallery (Oxford University Press, 2000) contains biographies of seventeen distinguished physicists he had known personally: Niels Bohr, Max Born, Paul Dirac, Albert Einstein, Mitchell Feigenbaum, Res Jost, Oskar Klein, Hans Kramers, Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen Ning Yang, John von Neumann, Wolfgang Pauli, Isidor Isaac Rabi, Robert Serber, George Uhlenbeck, Victor Frederick Weisskopf, and Eugene Wigner.

Pais was working on a biography of Robert Oppenheimer at the time of his death. It was finished by Robert P. Crease and published posthumously as J. Robert Oppenheimer: A life (Oxford University Press, 2006).[14] It is the most complete biography of Oppenheimer to date.

The American Physical Society has awarded an Abraham Pais Prize for History of Physics annually since 2005.

Later life

After his retirement Pais and his third wife Ida Nicolaisen spent half their time in Denmark where he worked at the Niels Bohr Institute. His son Josh Pais is an American actor. Pais died of heart failure in Copenhagen.


  1. ^ This was the award for hardcover Science.
    From 1980 to 1983 in National Book Awards history there were dual hardcover and paperback awards in most categories, and several nonfiction subcategories including General Nonfiction. Most of the paperback award-winners were reprints, including the 1983 Science.


  1. ^ Cao, Tian Yu. Conceptual developments of 20th century field theories. Cambridge University Press, 1998, p. 320.
  2. ^ Land-Weber, Ellen (1986). "Bram Pais Tells His Story (1986)". To Save A Life: Stories Of Holocaust Rescue. Humboldt State University. Retrieved 2011-11-02.
  3. ^ Pais 1997
  4. ^ "Abraham Pais (1918 - 2000)". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  5. ^ Walter, Claire (1982). Winners, the blue ribbon encyclopedia of awards. Facts on File Inc. p. 438. ISBN 9780871963864.
  6. ^ "Abraham Pais wins Oppenheimer prize". Physics Today. American Institute of Physics. April 1979. Bibcode:1979PhT....32d..70.. doi:10.1063/1.2995507. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  7. ^ Goldberg, Stanley (1984). "Review of Subtle Is the Lord... by Abraham Pais". American Journal of Physics. 52 (10): 951–953. Bibcode:1984AmJPh..52..951P. doi:10.1119/1.13801.
  8. ^ Parsegian, V. Adrian (September 1995). "Review of Einstein Lived Here by Abraham Pais". Biophysical Journal. 69 (3): 1193–1194. Bibcode:1995BpJ....69.1193P. doi:10.1016/S0006-3495(95)79994-5. PMC 1236348.
  9. ^ "National Book Awards – 1983". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
  10. ^ Heilbron, John (25 May 1986). "Review of Inward Bound by Abraham Pais". Los Angeles Times.
  11. ^ Pippard, Brian (4 September 1986). "Review of Inward Bound by Abraham Pais". London Review of Books. 8 (15): 17–18.
  12. ^ Hacking, Ian (26 February 1987). "Review of Inward Bound by Abraham Pais". The New York Review of Books.
  13. ^ Rhodes, Richard (26 January 1992). "Review of Niels Bohr's Times by Abraham Pais". New York Times.
  14. ^ Herken, Gregg (October 2007). "Review of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Abraham Pais and Robert P. Crease". Technology and Culture. 48 (4): 889–891. doi:10.1353/tech.2007.0167.



External links

Abraham Pais Prize for History of Physics

The Abraham Pais Prize for History of Physics is an award given each year since 2005 jointly by the American Physical Society and the American Institute of Physics for "outstanding scholarly achievements in the history of physics". The prize is named after Abraham Pais (1918-2000), science historian and particle physicist; as of 2013 it is valued at $10,000.

Allan Franklin

Allan David Franklin (born 11 August 1938, Brooklyn) is an American physicist, historian of science, and philosopher of science.

Franklin received in 1959 his bachelor's degree from Columbia University and in 1965 his PhD in physics from Cornell University. He was from 1965 to 1966 a postdoc and from 1966 to 1967 an instructor at Princeton University. At the University of Colorado Boulder he became in 1982 a full professor in physics, after having been there from 1967 to 1973 an assistant professor and from 1973 to 1982 an associate professor.

At the beginning of his career he did research on particle physics. Since the 1970s his research has dealt with the history and philosophy of science, in particular, the role of experiments in physics. He has done research on the history of experiments on parity violation, CP violation, neutrinos, and a possible fifth force, as well as the Millikan oil drop experiment and the relationship between theory and experiment in research on weak interactions.

As a philosopher, he dealt with the Duhem–Quine thesis, the theory of confirmation using Bayesian statistics, the corrigibility and reliability of experimental results, and the resolution of conflicting observations.

In 2016 he received the Abraham Pais Prize for History of Physics. He was elected in 1988 a Fellow of American Physical Society and was twice the chair of the Society's Forum for the History of Science. in 2000 he was a Miegunyah Distinguished Fellow at the University of Melbourne.

Andrew Gemant Award

The Andrew Gemant Award is a prize awarded by the American Institute of Physics to a person who has made substantial cultural, artistic, or humanistic contributions to physics. The award is named after Andrew Gemant.


In particle physics, a baryon is a type of composite subatomic particle which contains an odd number of valence quarks (at least 3). Baryons belong to the hadron family of particles, which are the quark-based particles. They are also classified as fermions, i.e., they have half-integer spin.

The name "baryon", introduced by Abraham Pais, comes from the Greek word for "heavy" (βαρύς, barýs), because, at the time of their naming, most known elementary particles had lower masses than the baryons. Each baryon has a corresponding antiparticle (antibaryon) where their corresponding antiquarks replace quarks. For example, a proton is made of two up quarks and one down quark; and its corresponding antiparticle, the antiproton, is made of two up antiquarks and one down antiquark.

As quark-based particles, baryons participate in the strong interaction, which is mediated by particles known as gluons. The most familiar baryons are protons and neutrons, both of which contain three quarks, and for this reason these particles are sometimes described as triquarks. These particles make up most of the mass of the visible matter in the universe, as well as forming the components of the nucleus of every atom. Electrons (the other major component of the atom) are members of a different family of particles, known as leptons, which do not interact via the strong force. Exotic baryons containing five quarks (known as pentaquarks) have also been discovered and studied.

Deaths in July 2000

The following is a list of notable deaths in July 2000.

Entries for each day are listed alphabetically by surname. A typical entry lists information in the following sequence:

Name, age, country of citizenship at birth, subsequent country of citizenship (if applicable), reason for notability, cause of death (if known), and reference.

J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize

The J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize and Medal was awarded by the Center for Theoretical Studies, University of Miami, from 1969. Established in memory of US physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, the award consisted of a medal, certificate and a $1000 honorarium. It was awarded for "outstanding contributions to the theoretical natural sciences [...] during the preceding decade".The acceptance speech for the inaugural award to Dirac was published as The Development of Quantum Theory (1971).

Josh Pais

Josh Pais (born June 21, 1958) is an American acting coach and film and television actor.


In particle physics, a kaon , also called a K meson and denoted K, is any of a group of four mesons distinguished by a quantum number called strangeness. In the quark model they are understood to be bound states of a strange quark (or antiquark) and an up or down antiquark (or quark).

Kaons have proved to be a copious source of information on the nature of fundamental interactions since their discovery in cosmic rays in 1947. They were essential in establishing the foundations of the Standard Model of particle physics, such as the quark model of hadrons and the theory of quark mixing (the latter was acknowledged by a Nobel Prize in Physics in 2008). Kaons have played a distinguished role in our understanding of fundamental conservation laws: CP violation, a phenomenon generating the observed matter–antimatter asymmetry of the universe, was discovered in the kaon system in 1964 (which was acknowledged by a Nobel Prize in 1980). Moreover, direct CP violation was discovered in the kaon decays in the early 2000s by the NA48 experiment at CERN and the KTeV experiment at Fermilab.

Lewis Thomas Prize

The Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science, named for its first recipient, Lewis Thomas, is an annual literary prize awarded by The Rockefeller University to scientists or physicians deemed to have accomplished a significant literary achievement; it recognizes "scientists as poets." Originally called the Lewis Thomas Prize for the Scientist as Poet, the award was first given in 1993. Recipients' writings bridge the gap between the laboratory and the wider world, in the spirit of Lewis Thomas' collection of essays The Lives of a Cell.

The prize-giving ceremony is usually in the form of a lecture; winners receive a medal, a citation, and a cash award.

Subsequent recipients of the prize, awarded first for the year 1993 to Thomas, have been:

Siddhartha Mukherjee (2019)

List of American Physical Society prizes and awards

The American Physical Society gives out a number of awards for research excellence and conduct; topics include outstanding leadership, computational physics, lasers, mathematics, and more.

David Adler Lectureship Award in the Field of Materials Physics

The David Adler Lectureship Award in the Field of Materials Physics is a prize that has been awarded annually by the American Physical Society since 1988. The recipient is chosen for being "an outstanding contributor to the field of materials physics, who is noted for the quality of his/her research, review articles and lecturing." The prize is named after physicist David Adler with contributions to the endowment by friends of David Adler and Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. The winner receives a $5,000 honorarium.Will Allis Prize for the Study of Ionized GasesLeroy Apker Award

The Leroy Apker Award was established in 1978 to recognize outstanding achievements in physics by undergraduate students. Two awards are presented each year, one to a student from a Ph.D. granting institution, and one to a student from a non-Ph.D. granting institution.APS Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research

The APS Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research was established in 2016 to recognize contributions of the highest level that advance our knowledge and understanding of the physical universe. The medal carries with it a prize of $50,000 and is the largest APS prize to recognize the achievement of researchers from across all fields of physics. It is funded by a generous donation from Jay Jones, entrepreneur. Recipients to date are Edward Witten (2016) and Daniel Kleppner (2017).

Hans A. Bethe Prize

The Hans Bethe Prize is presented annually to recognize outstanding work in theory, experiment or observation in the areas of astrophysics, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, or closely related fields.Tom W. Bonner Prize in Nuclear Physics

The Tom W. Bonner Prize in Nuclear Physics is an annual prize awarded by the Division of Nuclear Physics to recognize outstanding experimental research in nuclear physics. It was established in 1964.Edward A. Bouchet Award

The Edward A. Bouchet Award was established in 1994 by the APS Committee on Minorities in physics to recognize and honor distinguished underrepresented minority physics researchers who have made significant contributions to physics research. This lectureship provides funding for Award recipients to conduct visits to institutions where the impact on minority students is significant, to deliver technical or topical lectures, and in some cases, to conduct informal discussions with faculty and students.Herbert P. Broida Prize

The Herbert P. Broida Prize, established in 1979, is awarded every two years for outstanding experimental advances in the fields of atomic and molecular spectroscopy or chemical physics.Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize

The Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize is an annual prize with an award of $20,000 for "outstanding theoretical or experimental contributions to condensed matter physics". The prize is named after Oliver Ellsworth Buckley, a former president of AT&T Bell Laboratories, which endowed the prize in 1952.

Davisson–Germer Prize in Atomic or Surface Physics

The Davisson–Germer Prize in Atomic or Surface Physics is an annual prize for "outstanding work in atomic physics or surface physics". The prize is named after Clinton Davisson and Lester Germer, who first measured electron diffraction.Max Delbruck Prize in Biological Physics

The Max Delbruck Prize recognizes and encourage outstanding achievement in biological physics research, and is one of the most prestigious international prizes in biological physics. It is awarded annually with a prize of $10000.

Einstein Prize

The Einstein Prize was established in 1999 to recognize outstanding accomplishments in the field of gravitational physics. It is awarded in odd-numbered years.

Herman Feshbach Prize in Theoretical Nuclear PhysicsFluid Dynamics Prize

The Fluid Dynamics Prize is a prize that has been awarded annually by the society since 1979. The recipient is chosen for "outstanding achievement in fluid dynamics research". As of 2007 the prize is valued at $10,000. In 2004, the Otto Laporte Award, another APS award on fluid dynamics, was merged into the Fluid Dynamics Prize.

Maria Goeppert-Mayer Award

The Maria Goeppert-Mayer Award recognizes and enhances outstanding achievements by women physicists in the early years of their careers and provides opportunities for them to present these achievements to others through public lectures.

Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics

The Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics is awarded annually to recognize outstanding publications in the field of mathematical physics.

Frank Isakson Prize for Optical Effects in Solids

The Frank Isakson Prize was established in 1979 to recognize outstanding optical research that leads to breakthroughs in the condensed matter sciences. The prize is awarded in even-numbered years.

Leo P. Kadanoff PrizeJoseph F. Keithley Award For Advances in Measurement Science

The Joseph F. Keithley Award For Advances in Measurement Science recognizes physicists who have furthered the development of measurement techniques or equipment for the physics community that provides better measurements. Starting in 1998, the annual award consists of a $5,000 award and certificate.

Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics

The Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics is awarded annually to US residents, in even years by the American Chemical Society and in odd years by the American Physical Society. The award was established in 1931 to recognize and encourage outstanding interdisciplinary research in chemistry and physics, in the spirit of Nobel Prize-winning chemist Irving Langmuir.Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize

APS has awarded the Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize annually since 1989, excepting 2002. The purpose of the prize is to recognize outstanding contributions to physics. Among the recipients are Michael Berry, Alan Guth, Stephen Hawking, and Frank Wilczek.

James Clerk Maxwell Prize

The James Clerk Maxwell Prize in Plasma Physics was established in 1975 by the Maxwell Technologies, Inc., in honor of the Scottish physicist, James Clerk Maxwell. The prize recognizes outstanding contributions to the field of plasma physics. The prize consists of $10,000 and a certificate citing the contributions made by the recipient. The prize is presented annually.James C. McGroddy Prize for New Materials

The James C. McGroddy Prize for New Materials has been awarded annually since 1975 for "outstanding achievement in the science and application of new materials". Initially known as the International Prize for New Materials, the prize has been named for physicist James C. McGroddy since 1999.

Lars Onsager Prize in Statistical Physics

The Lars Onsager Prize recognizes outstanding research in theoretical statistical physics including the quantum fluids. The prize consists of $10,000 as well as a certificate citing the contribution made by the recipient. It is presented annually, beginning in 1997. The prize was endowed in 1993 by Drs. Russell and Marian Donnelly in memory of Lars Onsager and his passion for analytical results.

Abraham Pais Prize for History of Physics

The Abraham Pais Prize for History of Physics is given jointly by the American Physical Society and the American Institute of Physics for "outstanding scholarly achievements in the history of physics". The prize, named after physicist and historian Abraham Pais, has been awarded annually since 2005.George E. Pake Prize

The George E. Pake Prize was established in 1983 to recognize outstanding work by physicists combining original research accomplishments with leadership in the management of research or development in industry. The prize is presented biennially in even-numbered years.Panofsky Prize in Experimental Particle Physics

The Panofsky Prize is an annual prize given to recognize and encourage outstanding achievements in experimental particle physics.Earle K. Plyler Prize for Molecular Spectroscopy & Dynamics

The Earle K. Plyler Prize for Molecular Spectroscopy is awarded annually to recognize notable contributions to the field of molecular spectroscopy and dynamics.Polymer Physics Prize

The Polymer Physics Prize is awarded annually for outstanding achievements in polymer physics research.Prize for Industrial Applications of Physics

Aneesur Rahman Prize for Computational Physics

The Aneesur Rahman Prize for Computational Physics was established in 1992 with support from IBM Corporation. It recognizes outstanding work in computational physics. It is awarded annually with a value of $5000 and is open to scientists of all nationalities. The winner delivers the Rahman lecture.Norman F. Ramsey Prize in Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics, and in Precision Tests of Fundamental Laws and Symmetries

Andrei Sakharov Prize

The Andrei Sakharov Prize was established to recognize "outstanding leadership and/or achievements of scientists in upholding human rights." The prize is named in recognition of the courageous and effective work of the Soviet nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov on behalf of human rights, to the detriment of his own scientific career and despite the loss of his own personal freedom.J. J. Sakurai Prize

The J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics is presented by the American Physical Society at its annual April Meeting, and honors outstanding achievement in particle physics theory. The prize, considered one of the most prestigious in physics, consists of a monetary award, a certificate citing the contributions recognized by the award, and a travel allowance for the recipient to attend the presentation. The award is endowed by the family and friends of particle physicist J. J. Sakurai. The prize has been awarded annually since 1985.Arthur L. Schawlow Prize in Laser Science

The Arthur L. Schawlow Prize in Laser Science is an annual award established in 1991 to recognize outstanding contributions to basic research which uses lasers to advance the knowledge of the fundamental physical properties of materials and their interaction with light.Leo Szilard Lectureship Award

The Leo Szilard Lectureship Award was established in 1974 in commemoration of physicist Leo Szilard. It is presented annually for outstanding accomplishments by international physicists to promote the use of physics for the benefit of society.

George E. Valley, Jr. Prize

John Wheatley Award

Established in 1991 "to honor and recognize the dedication of physicists who have made contributions to the development of physics in countries of the third world" with the support of the Forum on International Physics.Robert R. Wilson Prize for Achievement in the Physics of Particle Accelerators

Max Jammer

Max Jammer (born Moshe Jammer, German: [ˈjamɐ]; April 13, 1915 – December 18, 2010), was an Israeli physicist and philosopher of physics. He was born in Berlin, Germany.

Oreste Piccioni

Oreste Piccioni (October 24, 1915 – April 13, 2002) was an Italian-American physicist who made important contributions to elementary particle physics during the early years of its history.

He was a graduate student of Enrico Fermi at the University of Rome, receiving his doctorate in 1938.

Remaining in Italy during World War II, he did fundamental research under difficult conditions in the basement of a high school, which first clarified the nature of the muon.In 1946 he emigrated to the United States, where he worked first at MIT with Bruno Rossi, and then at BNL's Cosmotron, developing faster nuclear electronics and essential techniques for extracting, transporting, and focusing beams of high energy particles.

Later at UC Berkeley's Lawrence Radiation laboratory he was a co-discoverer of the antineutron in 1955 at the Bevatron.

His important contributions to the design of the experiment that discovered the antiproton in 1955 were acknowledged in the 1959 ceremony in which the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to E. Segrè and O. Chamberlain.

Unfortunately a famous quarrel over credit and priority for the discovery embittered Piccioni for much of his later life, to the point that he filed a lawsuit in 1972 against Segrè and Chamberlain, seeking damages and public acknowledgment of his contributions. The suit was ultimately dismissed as filed too late for consideration of the issues.

An important theoretical paper

with Abraham Pais in 1955 considered regeneration in neutral kaon mixing.

In 1960 he joined the faculty of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), where his group made the first measurement of the neutral kaon K1-K2 mass difference.

Piccioni retired from UCSD as Professor Emeritus in 1986, but continued to give review talks and work in the investigation of fundamental problems in quantum mechanics.

In 1999 he was awarded the Mattuecci Medal by the Accademia Nazionale delle Scienze (National Academy of Sciences) in Italy.

Relativity priority dispute

Albert Einstein presented the theories of special relativity and general relativity in publications that either contained no formal references to previous literature, or referred only to a small number of his predecessors for fundamental results on which he based his theories, most notably to the work of Hendrik Lorentz for special relativity, and to the work of Carl F. Gauss, Bernhard Riemann, and Ernst Mach for general relativity. Subsequently, claims have been put forward about both theories, asserting that they were formulated, either wholly or in part, by others before Einstein. At issue is the extent to which Einstein and various other individuals should be credited for the formulation of these theories, based on priority considerations.

The general history of the development of these theories, including the contributions made by many other scientists, is found at History of special relativity and History of general relativity.

Res Jost

Res Jost (10 January 1918 – 3 October 1990) was a Swiss theoretical physicist, who worked mainly in constructive quantum field theory.

Russell McCormmach

Russell Keith McCormmach (born 9 October 1933) is an American historian of physics.McCormmach grew up in Walla Walla, Washington and studied physics at Washington State College with bachelor's degree in 1955. As a Rhodes scholar, he studied politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford University with bachelor's degree in 1959. He then worked as an electronics engineer at Bell Laboratories. In 1967 he received a Ph.D. in the history of science from Case Institute of Technology under Martin J. Klein. McCormmach was then a professor of the history of science at the University of Pennsylvania and the Johns Hopkins University (until 1983), and then at the University of Oregon. There he is a professor emeritus.McCormmach studied the history of German physics in the 19th and 20th centuries. His novel Night Thoughts of a Classical Physicist consists of the fictional reminiscences of an elderly German physics professor named Viktor Jacob who reflects on the revolutionary developments (relativity theory, quantum theory, and atomic physics) at the beginning of 20th century physics. The fictional character Viktor Jacob is partly based on Paul Drude (who committed suicide in 1906). In the novel, Viktor Jacob recalls Paul Drude as a friend.

With his wife Christa Jungnickel, Russell McCormmach co-authored a biography of Henry Cavendish and a history of German theoretical physics in the 19th and early 20th century. His biography of the 18th century English naturalist John Michell was published in 2012.

McCormmach received in 1987 the Pfizer Award from the History of Science Society, the John Frederick Lewis Award from the American Philosophical Society, and in 2010 the Abraham Pais Prize for History of Physics from the American Physical Society.In 1969 he founded the journal Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences (now named Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences), for which he was the editor-in-chief for its first ten years.

Science Writing Award

The American Institute of Physics (AIP) instituted their Science Writing Award to "promote effective science communication in print and broadcast media in order to improve the general public's appreciation of physics, astronomy, and allied science fields." The winner receives $3000, and an engraved Windsor Chair. The awards is given in three broad categories: 1) science writing, 2) work intended for children, and 3) work done in new media. The AIP stopped issuing awards to three categories: 1) work by a professional journalist (last awarded in 2011) 2) work by a scientist (last awarded in 2009), and 3) broadcast media (last awarded in 2009)

Notable winners of this Science Writing Award include Nobel Prize winners Charles Townes and Steven Weinberg; other notables winners include Simon Singh, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Lawrence Krauss, John Wheeler, Kip Thorne, Leonard Susskind, Clifford Martin Will, Abraham Pais, Heinz Pagels, Banesh Hoffmann, and Martin Gardner.

Silvan S. Schweber

Silvan Samuel Schweber (10 April 1928 in Strasbourg – 14 May 2017) was a French-born American theoretical physicist and science historian.


In particle physics, strangeness (S) is a property of particles, expressed as a quantum number, for describing decay of particles in strong and electromagnetic interactions which occur in a short period of time. The strangeness of a particle is defined as:

where n
represents the number of strange quarks (
) and n
represents the number of strange antiquarks (

The terms strange and strangeness predate the discovery of the quark, and were adopted after its discovery in order to preserve the continuity of the phrase; strangeness of anti-particles being referred to as +1, and particles as −1 as per the original definition. For all the quark flavour quantum numbers (strangeness, charm, topness and bottomness) the convention is that the flavour charge and the electric charge of a quark have the same sign. With this, any flavour carried by a charged meson has the same sign as its charge.

Tina Strobos

Tina Strobos, née Tineke Buchter (May 19, 1920 – February 27, 2012), was a Dutch physician and psychiatrist from Amsterdam, known for her resistance work during World War II. While a young medical student, she worked with her mother and grandmother to rescue more than 100 Jewish refugees as part of the Dutch resistance during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Strobos provided her house as a hiding place for Jews on the run, using a secret attic compartment and warning bell system to keep them safe from sudden police raids. In addition, Strobos smuggled guns and radios for the resistance and forged passports to help refugees escape the country. Despite being arrested and interrogated nine times by the Gestapo, she never betrayed the whereabouts of a Jew.

After the war, Strobos completed her medical degree and became a psychiatrist. She studied under Anna Freud in England. Strobos later emigrated to the United States to study psychiatry under a Fulbright scholarship, and she subsequently settled in New York. She married twice and had three children. Strobos built a career as a family psychiatrist, receiving the Elizabeth Blackwell Medal in 1998 for her medical work, and finally retired from active practice in 2009.

In 1989, Strobos was honored as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem for her rescue work. In 2009, she was recognized for her efforts by the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center of New York City.

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