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Maurice Goldhaber

Born April 18, 1911 (1911-04-18) (age 98)
Lemburg, Austria
Residence United States
Nationality  Austria
Fields Physicist
Institutions Cavendish Laboratory
Doctoral advisor James Chadwick
Known for Neutrinos and negativehelicity
Notable awards National Medal of Science (1985)
Wolf Prize (1991)
J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize (1992)
Fermi Award (1998).

Maurice Goldhaber (born April 18, 1911) is an American physicist, who in 1957 (with Lee Grodzins and Andrew Sunyar) established that neutrinos have negative helicity.

He was born in Lemberg, Austria. In 1934, working at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, England he and James Chadwick, through what they called the nuclear photo-electric effect, established that the neutron has a great enough mass over the proton to decay. In the 1940s with his wife Gertrude Scharff-Goldhaber he established that beta particles are identical to electrons. With Edward Teller he proposed that the so-called "giant-dipole nuclear resonance" was due to the neutrons in a nucleus vibrating as a group against the protons as a group (Goldhaber-Teller model).

He made a well-known bet with Hartland Snyder in about 1955 that anti-protons could not exist; when he lost the bet, he speculated that the reason anti-matter does not appear to be abundant in the universe is that before the Big Bang, a single particle, the "universon" existed that then decayed into "cosmon" and "anti-cosmon," and that the cosmon subsequently decayed to produce the known cosmos. In the 1950s also he speculated that all fermions[1] such as electrons, protons and neutrons are "doubled," that is that each is associated with a similar heavier particle. He also speculated that in what became known as the Goldhaber-Christie model, the so-called strange particles were composites of just 3 basic particles. He was Director of Brookhaven National Laboratory from 1961 to 1973.

Among his many other awards, he won the National Medal of Science in 1985, the Wolf Prize in 1991, the J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize in 1992, and the Fermi Award in 1998.

Maurice Goldhaber's brother Gerson Goldhaber is a professor of physics at Berkeley; his son Alfred Scharff Goldhaber is a professor of physics at SUNY Stony Brook; his grandson (son of Alfred) David Goldhaber-Gordon is a professor of physics at Stanford.


  • G. Feinberg, A.W. Sunyar, J. Weneser, A Festschrift for Maurice Goldhaber,New York Academy of Sciences (1993), ISBN 0897660862
  1. ^ Goldhaber, Maurice (2002), "A closer look at the elementary fermions.", Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 99 (1): 33–6, 2002 Jan 8, doi:10.1073/pnas.221582298, PMID 11773637  

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Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Maurice Goldhaber (born April 18, 1911, in Lemberg) is an Austrian-American physicist, who established together with Chadwick, while working in 1934 at the Cavendish Laboratory, that the neutron isn't a compound of electron and proton. In 1957, together with Lee Grodzins and Andrew Sunyar, he established that neutrinos have negative helicity.


  • Then I went to the Cavendish and there I took Rutherford’s course in nuclear physics. He was a very dramatic lecturer and full of anecdotes. He made it come alive. So this was very impressive--also very phenomenological, everything he did; very simple derivations. I think that’s very important for the first learning and this is perhaps something students now miss. They get the theory of nuclear physics thrown at them; sometimes before they ever know there is a phenomenon they have the complete theory of it. The phenomena are not sufficiently emphasized, I think, in teaching today.
    • Interview of Maurice Goldhaber by Charles Weiner and Gloria Lubkin at Brookhaven National Laboratory on January 10, 1967, Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics, College Park, MD USA [1]

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