Isidor Isaac Rabi (July 29, 1898 - January 11, 1988) was an American physicist of Austro-Hungarian origin.

Rabi was born in Rymanów, now in Poland, at the time in Austria-Hungary, and was brought to the US as a child the following year. He achieved a Bachelor of Chemistry degree from Cornell University in 1919, continuing his studies at Columbia University and received his Ph.D. in 1927.

In 1930 Rabi conducted investigations into the nature of the force binding protons to atomic nuclei. This research eventually led to the creation of the molecular-beam magnetic-resonance detection method, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1944.

In 1940 he was granted leave from Columbia to work as Associate Director of the Radiation Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the development of radar. He reluctantly agreed to serve as a visiting consultant who would come and go from Los Alamos. In this unusual capacity he was one of the very few exceptions to the strict security rules. General Groves made a special effort to bring Rabi, who had been a student with Oppenheimer and maintained a close and mutually respectful relationship, out to Los Alamos for the days leading up to the Trinity test so that he could help Oppenheimer maintain his sanity under such intense pressure.

After the war he continued his research, which contributed to the inventions of the laser and the atomic clock. He was also one of the founders of Brookhaven Laboratory and the organization known as CERN. Rabi died on January 11, 1988.

He famously remarked that "the world would be better without an Edward Teller."

See also:

  • Atomic clock
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance
  • Rabi cycle
  • Radiation Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Isidor Isaac Rabi

Rabi biography

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