Jerome Isaac Friedman Biography

Jerome Isaac Friedman is an American physicist who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1990. This biography profiles his childhood, life, research career, achievements and timeline.

Jerome Isaac Friedman
Quick Facts

Birthday: March 28, 1930

Nationality: American

Famous: American Men University Of Chicago

Age: 89 Years, 89 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Aries

Born in: Chicago, Illinois

Famous as: Physicist


Spouse/Ex-: Tania Letetsky-Baranovsky (m. 1956; 4 children)

father: Selig Friedman

mother: Lillian Friedman

City: Chicago, Illinois

U.S. State: Illinois

More Facts

education: University of Chicago

awards: Nobel Prize in Physics (1990)

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Jerome Isaac Friedman is an American physicist who was awarded the highly prestigious Nobel Prize in Physics in 1990 for giving the world the experimental proof of quarks. He shared the prize with Richard Taylor and Henry Kendall, his collaborators during his peak productive years of research between 1967 and 1975. Friedman’s tryst for science began when he was in high school. An art aficionado, a chance reading of Einstein’s ‘Relativity’ drew Friedman to the science of the physical world. He gave up his art ambition for science. Enrico Fermi acted as Friedman’s guardian during his PhD years. Together the two investigated particle structure and interactions of high energy electrons, neutrinos, and hadrons. These formative experiences played a quintessential role in Friedman’s career development. In 1967, together with Taylor and Kendall, he made their life’s greatest discovery by giving the scientific world the experimental evidence of quarks. Through their experiment, they aimed charged electrons at protons and neutrons using a large accelerator. As a result, protons sometimes converted into other particles which led to the development of quark model in particle physics.

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Jerome Isaac Friedman
Childhood & Early Life
  • Jerome Isaac Friedman was born on March 28, 1930 to Lillian and Selig Friedman in Chicago, Illinois. He was the second of the two children born to the couple. His parents were Jewish who had immigrated to USA from Russia.
  • As a child, young Friedman was deeply encouraged to study by his parents, who were devoted learners. Though less educated, his parents desired their children to have a steady formal education. Consequently, young Friedman gained his primary and secondary education from Chicago. He excelled in arts and aimed to make a career in the same.
  • It was a book by Einstein titled ‘Relativity’ that developed Friedman’s interest in science, especially physics. Originally fascinated by art, he gave up on his scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago Museum School to satiate his curiosity of the physical world.
  • Friedman enrolled at the University of Chicago on a full scholarship. Post fulfilling the requirements in a highly innovative and intellectually stimulating liberal arts program, he gained admission in the Physics Department in 1950.
  • In 1953, he received his Master's degree and three years later, a Ph.D under the guidance of Enrico Ferni.
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  • Upon completing his PhD, Friedman started working as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Chicago’s nuclear emulsion laboratory under Valentine Telegdi. Together the two conducted emulsion experiment searching for parity violation in muon decay.
  • In 1957, Friedman found work with Robert Hofstadter. He joined the latter’s group at the High Energy Physics Laboratory at Stanford University as a Research Associate. While working, he befriended Henry Kendall, a friendship that turned into a long time collaboration
  • At SLAC, Friedman learned counter physics and the techniques of electron scattering. He conducted several experiments on elastic and inelastic electrondeuteron scattering. He even developed a technique of making radiative corrections to inelastic spectra.
  • In 1960, Friedman was offered a position as a faculty member in the Physics Department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He soon accepted a position at Stanford University, where he made a collaborative effort to measure muon pair production at the Cambridge Electron Accelerator (CEA) in order to test the validity of Quantum Electro-Dynamics.
  • In 1961, Kendall joined Friedman’s group as did other physicists such as WKH Panofsky, Richard Taylor and so on. The group started developing electron scattering facilities for a physics program at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.
  • Friedman and Kendall travelled between MIT and SLAC on a regular basis, juggling with their duties. They established a MIT group at SLAC. The group was provided a new accelerator, given the support to design and construct optimal experimental facilities, and had the opportunity to participate in the exploration of a new energy range with electrons.
  • Friedman’s peak years of his career started from latter half of the 1960s, primarily from 1967 and lasted until 1975. In these years, his group carried out a series of measurements of inelastic electron scattering from the proton and neutron which provided the first direct evidence that protons had an internal structure, known as the quark sub-structure of the nucleon.
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  • The world knew that matter comprised of protons and neutrons with electrons in their surroundings. Through the experiment, Friedman, Taylor and Kendall studied how electrons scattered during the collisions and how protons were sometimes converted into other particles. Their results supported the theory that protons and neutrons are composed of sub-particles, quarks.
  • Following their noteworthy research, Friedman along with his collaborators carried out a series of experiments wherein he investigated about elastic scattering, Feynman scaling and production mechanism in inclusive hadron scattering. Post this, they built a large neutrino detector at Fermilab. The main purpose of the program was to study the weak neutral currents in measurements of inclusive neutrino and anti-neutrino nucleon scattering
  • In 1980, Friedman was appointed the Director of the Laboratory for Nuclear Science at MIT. Three years later, from 1983 to 1988, he served as the Head of the Physics Department. Despite having administrative duties, Friedman did not let go off his passion for research and teaching.
  • In 1988, after his stint with administrative responsibilities, Friedman resumed to full-time teaching and research. His MIT group actively contributed in the construction of a large detector to study electron-positron annihilations at the Stanford Linear Collider and was engaged in design work for a detector for the Superconducting Super Collider.
  • Friedman serves as an honorary professor at the University of Belgrade's Faculty of Physics and the Faculty's world famous institutes, Institute of Physics, Institute of Physics, Zemun and Vinca Nuclear Institute. He is an Institute Professor or Emeritus Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Over the years, he has served on advisory committee for a number of programs. He was a member of the Board of the University Research Association for six years, serving as Vice President for three years. He is a member of the High Energy Advisory Panel for the Department of Energy and also Chairman of the Scientific Policy Committee of the Superconducting Super Collider Laboratory.
  • Currently, Friedman serves as member of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
Major Works
  • Friedman’s main achievements came during 1967-1975 when he conducted a series of experiments at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Through the experiment, Friedman, Taylor and Kendall studied how electrons scattered during the collisions and how protons were sometimes converted into other particles. Their results supported the theory that protons and neutrons are composed of sub-particles, quarks.
Awards & Achievements
  • In 1990, Friedman along with his colleague Henry Kendall and Richard Taylor received the Nobel Prize in Physics.
  • In 2008, Friedman was honoured with an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Belgrade
Personal Life & Legacy
  • Friedman tied the nuptial knot with Tania Letetsky-Baranovsky in 1956. The couple has been blessed with four children, Ellena, Joel, Martin, and Sandra.

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- Jerome Isaac Friedman Biography
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Last Updated
- October 30, 2017
Jerome Isaac Friedman

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