Melvin Schwartz '49
A world-renowned physicist, Melvin Schwartz was best known for his work in particle physics. Schwartz received the 1988 Nobel Prize in Physics for his team’s contribution to the discovery of the muon, a particle 200 times heavier than the electron. In his early particle research, Schwartz faced the same problem as many of his peers: they had difficulty studying neutrinos, as these particles rarely interacted with other matter. In 1962, Schwartz’s team had the novel idea to create a beam of neutrinos in the laboratory to more easily study them. His research found that, in some cases, a muon was produced instead of an electron, proving the existence of the muon neutrino and allowing for further classification of these particles, collectively known as “leptons”. Schwartz earned both his bachelor’s degree and doctorate from Columbia University.