Street Corner Science: Leon Lederman – Pt. 2

  by  |  August 28th, 2008  |  Published in All, Physics & Space

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Dr. Leon Lederman, 1988 Nobel Laureate in Physics, is back on the street answering your science questions in Part 2 of “Street Corner Science with Leon Lederman.” This video is the second of two “Street Corner Science” segments featuring Dr. Lederman–be sure to check out Part 1 here!

[If you cannot see the flash video below, you can click here for a high quality mp4 video.]

Directed by Toni Subklewe
Produced by Tom Fishman & Brad Kloza
Edited by Tom Fishman & Charles Young
Special Thanks to Dr. Leon Lederman
Copyright © ScienCentral, Inc.

UPDATE: “Street Corner Science” has been featured at the popular physics blog Cosmic Variance! Check it out here.

What Would You Ask?

In “Street Corner Science,” a ScienCentral original Web Show, pedestrians are given the chance to sit down with a world-class scientist and ask him or her any question they like about science, or anything else on their minds. In this installment, Dr. Lederman answers questions about time travel, nuclear fusion power, and how the future of particle physics will be affected by the results of the search for the Higgs particle.

More About Our Host

Leon Max Lederman was born in New York City, the second son of Russian-Jewish immigrants. He studied chemistry at City College of New York, receiving his BS in 1943. After three years in the army during World War II, he studied physics at Columbia University, earning his Master’s in 1948 and his Ph.D. in 1951. He stayed on at Columbia for nearly 30 years where he, with colleagues and students, led a wide-ranging series of experiments that have provided major advances in the understanding of “weak interactions,” one of the fundamental nuclear forces.

In the early 1960s, Dr. Lederman and his colleagues were focused on neutrinos, ghostlike particles that pass through everything in the universe. At the time, only the electron neutrino was known, and the scientists wondered if they could find more types of neutrinos. In 1962, Dr. Lederman, with his colleagues, succeeded in identifying the second such particle: the muon neutrino.

Detail from The Age of Reptiles © 1966, 1975, 1985, 1989 Yale Peabody Museum. All rights reserved.

Lederman receives the Nobel Prize for Physics from King Carl XVI Gustaf, December 10, 1988.
Image courtesy FNAL.

In 1988, Dr. Lederman and his partners Melvin Schwartz and Jack Steinberger were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for “transforming the ghostly neutrino into an active tool of research.” Since the team’s work, neutrinos have been used as a way of analyzing everything from the structure of the atomic nucleus to the energy level of an exploding star, or supernova.

Today, Dr. Lederman is Pritzker Professor of Physics at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has received numerous awards besides the Nobel, including the National Medal of Science (1965), the Elliot Cresson Medal of the Franklin Institute (1976), and the Wolf Prize in Physics (1982). He is a past chairman and president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1993 he was awarded the Enrico Fermi Prize by President Clinton. He has served as founding member of the High-Energy Physics Advisory Panel and the International Committee for Future Accelerators.

Dr. Lederman has published over 200 papers, and co-authored the books, The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question? (1989, written with Dick Teresi) and From Quarks to the Cosmos: Tools of Discovery (1995, co-author David N. Schramm). In these works, Lederman delves into the mysteries of matter, discussing particle accelerators and the yet-to-be-discovered “God particle.”

Dr. Lederman is a staunch advocate of the importance of math and science education and outreach programs for today’s youth.


Check out Dr. Lederman’s profile, his 1988 Nobel Lecture, and more at The Nobel Foundation‘s website.

Dr. Lederman is Director Emeritus at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

Dr. Lederman also founded the Illinois Math and Science Academy, and is one of the main proponents of the Physics First movement, which aims to rearrange the current high school curriculum so that physics precedes biology and chemistry.

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  1. Mediamama says:

    August 29th, 2008 at 9:20 am (#)

    Smart people make hard things sound so easy…

  2. fluidfilm says:

    August 29th, 2008 at 11:21 am (#)

    The U.S. zeroing out funding for ITER (an international project to build an experimental fusion reactor) is a disappointing mark on our commitment to participate in important joint technological solutions, a strategy that is compromising our economy and security in the satellite-building business. (See…) On the bright side, there is continuing fusion energy research going on, and some alternative approaches may be promising. Harnessing fusion is a huge, long-term, forward-thinking project which could revolutionize power generation. But considering we haven't bothered to improve fuel efficiency in our cars for the past 3 decades, maybe we're just not so good at planning ahead.

  3. fuzzyleaves says:

    August 30th, 2008 at 10:42 pm (#)

    I think that fusion in our life time is possible. If people just worked hard enough we could invent a way of using fusion, and just not fission.

  4. Street Corner Science with Leon Lederman Pt.1 | ScienCentral says:

    September 5th, 2008 at 2:01 pm (#)

    [...]  by Toni Subklewe  |  August 21st, 2008  |  Published in All, Environment, Physics & Space Share Post: digg_bgcolor = ‘#cccccc’; digg_skin = ‘compact’; digg_window = ‘new’;  |   |  Stumble |  ARTICLEURL |  SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: “Street Corner Science with Leon Lederman – Pt. 1″, url: “” }); ScienCentral is taking science to the people in its first installment of “Street Corner Science,” a radical-yet-simple concept in which a film crew and a renowned scientist are plunked down on a busy city street corner, and an impromptu Q&A session with the public ensues. This video is the first of two “Street Corner Science” segments featuring Dr. Lederman; be sure to check out Part 2 here! [...]

  5. AIOOF says:

    September 22nd, 2008 at 10:36 pm (#)

    Sure, wrap a 200 MW Tokamak fusion reactor in a subcritical fission blanket and you can get harnessable energy out of the configuration. Could even use a molten salt blanket for online refueling, burn transuranics from current spent reactor fuel, and be inherently safe.

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    September 23rd, 2008 at 2:20 pm (#)

    This is a beautiful project, please keep this going.

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    September 28th, 2008 at 10:26 am (#)

    Great work… I have a a few questions myself…. Keep this going ….

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    Текст лично мне ничего особенного не дал. Но вот для многих он может оказаться реально полезным… :)

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    С большинством Ваших сообщений я не согласен, но этот пост очень впечатлил :)

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