Born In: Bad Kissingen, Germany
Jack Steinberger was a physicist who co-discovered the muon neutrino along with Leon Lederman and Melvin Schwartz, a discovery which earned the trio the 1988 Nobel Prize in Physics. Born as a Jew in Germany, he received a very simple upbringing as the country was still reeling under the post-war depression. Things took a turn for the worst when the Nazi party came into power and the systematic persecution of the Jews began. Fearing for their son’s life, his parents arranged to send him to the United States when he was 13. He struggled to establish himself in the foreign land and was aided by Jewish charities in the United States. Despite all the challenges he faced, he studied hard and obtained a bachelor's degree in Chemistry from the University of Chicago. He then worked towards his master’s degree and PhD and eventually embarked on an academic career. He conducted extensive research over the course of his career. Along with his Columbia University colleagues Lederman and Schwartz, he worked on significant experiments in particle physics which led to the discovery of a new type of neutrino called a muon neutrino. In addition to his scientific career, Steinberger was a Humanist Laureate in the International Academy of Humanism.
Also Known As: Hans Jakob Steinberger
Died At Age: 99
Spouse/Ex-: Cynthia Alff
Born Country: United States
place of death: Geneva, Switzerland
education: 1948 - University of Chicago, 1938 - New Trier High School, 1941 - Illinois Institute of Technology, Institute for Advanced Study
awards: 1988 - Nobel Prize in Physics
1956 - Guggenheim Fellowship for Natural Sciences
US & Canada
1988 - National Medal of Science for Physical Science
Hans Jakob "Jack" Steinberger was born on May 25, 1921, in Germany, to Berta and Ludwig Steinberger as one of their three sons. He grew up in the post-war era marked by economic depression.
After serving in the Signal Corps at MIT for a while, he returned to graduate studies at the University of Chicago in 1946, receiving his Ph.D. there in 1948. Then he attended the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton for a year.
The Nevis Laboratory at Columbia offered him the requisite tools for several important experiments and he explored the possibility of experimenting with beams of T mesons. In the ensuing years he collaborated with D. Bodansky, A.M. Sachs, and several PhD students to conduct experiments to determine the spins and parities of charged and neutral pions to study the scattering of charged pions.
In 1988, he was honored with the National Medal of Science in physical sciences.
Jack Steinberger’s married Joan Beauregard with whom he had two sons. They parted ways.
He then married Cynthia Alff, his former student and biologist. The couple had one son and one daughter.
On 12 December 2020, Jack Steinberger died at his home in Geneva, at the age of 99.
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