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Isidor Isaac Rabi

Isidor Isaac RabiBorn: 29-Jul-1898
Birthplace: Rymanów, Poland
Died: 11-Jan-1988
Location of death: New York City
Cause of death: Illness

Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Physicist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Magnetic beam resonances

In 1937, Isidor Isaac Rabi (pronounced RAH-bee) developed a method to measure the magnetic moments (spin and magnetic characteristics) of atomic nuclei. His technique was fundamental to subsequent atomic beam experiments, leading to development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in medicine, guidance systems for missiles and satellites, and Rabi's Nobel Prize for Physics in 1944. In 1945 he proposed construction of the first atomic clock, and a founding member of the Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1947, and Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN) in 1954.

He was born in a Polish town that was then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and came to America with his family when he was an infant, where his father found work as a tailor. "Had we stayed in Europe", he later said, "I probably would have become a tailor". Instead he earned a degree in chemistry and worked for several years in an industrial laboratory, before returning to college to study physics.

He was involved in wartime improvements to radar technology, and though he declined Robert Oppenheimer's invitation to work on the Manhattan Project, he visited the Los Alamos laboratory numerous times and provided significant informal advice and valuable troubleshooting expertise. He later explained that he had moral qualms about using the atom as an ultimate weapon, and said he believed that World War II could be won without the bomb. After the war he became an outspoken opponent of atomic weaponry, which he described as "necessarily an evil thing" and "wrong on fundamental ethical principles".

Father: David Rabi (tailor)
Mother: Janet Teig
Wife: Helen Newmark (m. 17-Aug-1926, two daughters)
Daughter: Nancy Liehtenstein
Daughter: Margaret Beels

    High School: Manual Training High School, Brooklyn, NY
    University: BS Chemistry, Cornell University (1919)
    University: Cornell University (attended, 1923)
    University: PhD Physics, Columbia University (1927)
    Lecturer: Theoretical Physics, Columbia University (1929-37)
    Professor: Theoretical Physics, Columbia University (1937-40)
    Professor: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1940-45)
    Professor: Physics, Columbia University (1945-57)
    Professor: Higgins Professor of Physics, Columbia University (1957-64)
    Scholar: Co-Founder, Brookhaven National Laboratory (1947-67)
    Professor: University Professor of Physics, Columbia University (1964-67)

    Elliott Cresson Medal 1942
    Nobel Prize for Physics 1944
    Congressional Order of Merit 1948
    King's Medal for Service in the Cause of Freedom 1948
    Niels Bohr Gold Medal 1967
    Atoms for Peace Award 1967
    Oersted Medal 1982
    Vannevar Bush Award 1986
    French Legion of Honor Officer
    US Atomic Energy Commission General Advisory Committee (1946-56)
    US Atomic Energy Commission Chairman (1952-56)
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    American Philosophical Society
    American Physical Society President, 1950
    CERN Founding Member, 1954
    National Academy of Sciences
    Austrian Ancestry
    Hungarian Ancestry
    Polish Ancestry
    Jewish Ancestry
    Naturalized US Citizen

    The Day After Trinity (20-Jan-1981) · Himself

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