Isidor Isaac Rabi: Nobel Prize
in Physics Recipient-1944
by Seymour “Sy” Brody
Isidor Isaac Rabi was an American Jewish recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, 1944, for his resonance method for recording the magnetic properties of the atomic nuclei.
He was born on July 28, 1898, in Rymanow, Austria-Hungry. His parents Janet Tieg and David Rabi, immigrated to the United States a year after he was born. They lived in New York City and Isidor received his early education in the public school system. He received his B.S. in Chemistry from Cornell University, in 1919. He started his postgraduate studies at Cornell University, in 1921, and finished at Columbia University with a Ph.D. in Physics. 1927.
Rabi took a position with Columbia University, in 1937, to teach theoretical physics. He became a full professor of physics, in 1940. At this time, he was granted a leave from Columbia University so he could be the Associate Director of the Radiation Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1940-1950.
During this time, he reluctantly agreed to serve as a visiting consultant at Las Alamos. He went there because of his respect for Oppenheimer. Rabi returned to Columbia University as an executive officer of the Physics department. He also became one of the founders of the Brookhaven National Laboratory for Atomic Research one Long Island, new York. This organization devoted its work fr peaceful uses of atomic energy
He received many honors and awards:
● Prize of the American Association for the Advancement Science, 1939
● Elliott Cresson Medal of the Franklin Institute,1942
● Medal of Merit, the highest civilian award by the United States, during World War II
● King’s Medal for Service in the Cause of Freedom, 1948
● American Academy of Arts and Sciences
● An Honorary Doctorate of Science, Princeton University
● An Honorary Doctorate of Science, Harvard University
● An Honorary Doctorate of Science, Birmingham University
● A Member of the National Academy of Sciences
● A fellow of the American Physical Society and President in 1950
● A member of the American Philosophical Society
● A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
● Member of the Japanese Academy of Science
● Member of the Brazilian Academy of Science
● A member of the General Advisory Committee to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
● A member of the United States National Committee for UNESCO
● United States delegate and vice-president at the International Conference on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, in Geneva, 1955
● A member of the Science Advisory Committee of the International Atomic
● In 1959, Rabi was appointed a member of the Board of Governors of the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovoth, Israel.
Isidor Isaac Rabi was married to Helen Newmark, in 1926. They had two daughters and four grandchildren.
Isidor Isaac Rabi died on January 11, 1988, in his Manhattan apartment in New York City.
Return to Table of