Jack Steinberger: Nobel Prize in Physics Recipient-1988
by Seymour “Sy” Brody
Jack Steinberger is an American Jewish recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, 1988, which he shared with Leon M. Lederman and Melvin Schwartz for the neutrino beam method and the demonstration of the doublet structure of the leptons through the discovery of the muon neutrino.
He was born on May 25, 1921, in Bad Kissingen, Germany. His father, Ludwig Steinberger, was a cantor and a religious teacher. His father was in the German Army in World War I, When he was released, he married his mother..
When Jack Steinberger was in his teens, Hitler and his Nazi Party came to power. Their storm troopers would have torchlight parades and they would destroy Jewish property. Jews were forbidden to go into higher education in public school. In 1934, through the American Jewish charities, he and his older brother were able to leave Germany along with 300 other children. His parents and his younger brother were fortunate enough to rejoin them in America.
Jack Steinberger was taken in by Barnett Farell, owner of a grain brokerage house on the Chicago Board of Trade. His benefactor guided him through his high school education.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and America was at war, he joined the Army and was sent to the MIT radiation laboratory where he was introduced to the electromagnetic wave theory. When World War II was over, he returned to college. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, in 1948. Steinberger was very grateful to the faculty which included Edward Teller, Enrico Fermi, W. Zachariasen and Gregor Wentzel.
He is married to Cynthia Alff, who is a biologist, and they had two children, Julia and John. From a previous marriage to Joan Beauregard, he had two sons, Joseph Ludwig and Richard Ned.
In 1968, he joined CERN and he retired in 1985. He is a part-time professor at the Scuolla Normale Superiore, in Pisa, Italy. He has received many awards and honors for his contributions to physics
Return to Table of