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Schwartz, Melvin 1932-2006

Schwartz, Melvin 1932-2006


See index for CA sketch: Born November 2, 1932, in New York, NY; died of complications from Parkinson's disease, August 28, 2006, in Twin Falls, ID. Physicist, educator, and author. Schwartz was a corecipient of the Nobel Prize in physics for his work in creating a neutrino beam to study the weak force. He was a graduate of Columbia University, where he earned a B.S. in 1953 and a Ph.D. in 1958. Having gained early experience as an associate physicist at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, he joined the Columbia faculty in 1958. There he and colleagues Jack Steinberger and Leon Lederman developed a particle beam consisting of neutrinos in order to study the weak force involved with subatomic particles and the generation of radioactivity. While conducting their experiments, they also learned that there were two—not just one, as previously thought—types of neutrinos. The construction of the beam, which was the result of Schwartz's original insights, and the discovery of the neutrino differences represented groundbreaking work in physics. However, it would not be recognized with a Nobel Prize until 1988. By this time, Schwartz had progressed to other activities. He left Columbia to be a professor at Stanford University from 1966 to 1983 and was the founder and chair of the computer company Digital Pathways, Inc., from 1970 until 1991. Schwartz returned to Columbia University in 1991, however, to become associate director of the Brookhaven National Laboratory and determine projects for the new Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider that began operations in 2000. Named I.I. Rabi Professor of Physics in 1994, he was compelled to retire in 2000 because of advancing Parkinson's disease. Schwartz wrote The Neutrinos (1964) and Principles of Electrodynamics (1972).



Chicago Tribune, August 30, 2006, section 1, p. 13.

Los Angeles Times, August 30, 2006, p. B10.

New York Times, August 30, 2006, p. C11.

Washington Post, September 1, 2006, p. B6.

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