Country Switzerland

Einstein Albert
Physics, 1921
Switzerland
Einstein Albert

Albert Einstein was born to a German Jewish family; he studied in Munich, Germany, then in Zurich, Switzerland, where he received his doctorate.

From 1909, he taught and participated in scientific research at Universities and Academies throughout Europe. In 1921, he was awarded the Nobel prize for physics.

When Hitler rises to power, Einstein leaves Europe and settles in the United States with his second wife. There he serves as professor at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton until his death in 1955, at the age of 76.

Einstein made crucial contributions to modern physics. In 1905, When still only 26 and working in the patent office in Berne, he publishes a number of important papers:

  • A mathematical analysis of Brownian Motion (the movement of particles in liquid or gas);
  • An explanation of the photo-electric effect in terms of light as a shower of particles. This research was to bring him the Nobel Prize and was an important step in the development of the quantum theory which, paradoxically, Einstein denied all his life; as he used to say: ” God does not play dice with the world”.
  • But, especially, Einstein establishes the connection between energy, the mass of matter and the speed of light, according to his famous equation and in contradiction to the prevailing law for the preservation of mass. His special theory of relativity shows that, approaching the speed of light, time, space, mass and energy are only different aspects of each others.

In 1915, he expanded this to the general theory of relativity which also incorporates the influence of gravitation and was scientifically confirmed at the time of the eclipse of the sun in 1919.

Who was the man Einstein?
A modest and informal person who enjoyed walking in the countryside and spent much time at his favorite hobby – playing the violin.

He was a pacifist; but nevertheless warned President Franklin D. Roosevelt against the danger of a German nuclear monopoly, a danger that influenced the U.S. government to develop the atom bomb.

Einstein was a proud Jew and from the 1920’s was active in behalf of Zionism, especially for the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as we can see in this archive document.

He rejected a proposal from David Ben-Gurion that he become President of the State of Israel. The contrary would have been surprising!

The father of modern Physics.
Reichstein Tadeus
Medicine, 1950
Switzerland
Reichstein Tadeus

Tadeus Reichstein was born in Poland in 1897. When he was eleven years old, his family moved to Switzerland, where he studied chemistry. In 1934 he became a professor of organic chemistry. He joined the University of Basel in 1938 as head of the Institute of Pharmacology. In 1946 he was appointed head of the organic chemistry laboratories.

In 1950, Reichstein, together with Philip Hench and Edward Kendall, was awarded the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine, “for their discoveries relating to the hormones of the adrenal cortex, their structure and biological effects.” These hormones affect metabolism and are vital for bodily function.

Reichstein isolated and characterized some thirty steroids, the most important of which was cortisone. In the wake of his findings, the production of cortisone and its use in relieving the suffering of arthritis patients was begun. It was later used in the fight against pneumonia, tuberculosis, asthma and other illnesses.

the first scientist to isolate cortisone.
Steinberger Jack
Physics, 1988
Switzerland
Steinberger Jack

Jack Steinberger was born in 1921 in Germany. When the Nazis came to power his parents sent him to the U.S.A. At first he studied Chemical Engineering and decided to concentrate on physics only after the end of World War II. In 1948 he received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and in 1950 he joined the staff of Columbia University as a researcher.

Jack Steinberger received the 1988 Nobel prize in physics, together with Melvin Schwartz and Leon Lederman, “For the neutrino beam method and the demonstration of the doublet structure of the leptons, through the discovery of the muon neutrino.”

The standard model of particle physics divides the elementary particles into two families: quarks and leptons. Until the end of the 1950’s only three leptons were known: electron, muon and neutrino. The neutrinos can be produced from either electrons or muons, and can turn back to be either one.

In 1960, scientists assumed the existence of two kinds of neutrinos: one that is associated with electrons and the other, which is associated with muons. However, they had much difficulty in establishing an empirical evidence to support their assumption.

In 1961 Steinberger and his colleagues executed the neutrino experiment that was appreciated by the Nobel committee. They used a muon originated neutrino beam, produced by high energy collisions in the Brookhaven accelerator. All the neutrinos turned back to muons, not a single one turned into an electron, which prove that the neutrino observed in this experiment is a different kind of particle – a moun-neutrino.

The differentiation between electron-neutrino and muon-neutrino is of much theoretical importance. The electron and the electron neutrino are considered a “doublet”, two leptons that belong to the same generation. The muon and the moun-neutrino form another “doublet”, belonging to a different generation altogether.

discovered the muon-neutrino, one of the building blocks of the universe.
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