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Fredrick Reines

(1918 - 1998)

Frederick Reines was born on March 16, 1918, in Paterson, New Jersey. He received undergraduate degree in engineering in 1939 and a Master of Science degree in mathematical physics in 1941 at Steven Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. from New York University.

He first worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory, confirming the existence of neutrinos while there. In 1944, he was recruited as a staff member in the Theoretical Division at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory to work on the Manhattan Project. He then became the head of the physics department of Case University from 1959 to 1966. He subsequently became the founding dean of the school of physical sciences at the newly opened University of California, Irvine. He served as Dean until 1974, when he stepped down to return to full time teaching and research. He was appointed Distinguished Professor of Physics at UCI in 1987 and became Professor Emeritus in 1988.

He was awarded the 1995 Nobel Prize in Physics, along with Martin Perl , for his detection of the neutrino in the neutrino experiment.

He remained on UCI's faculty until his death. Reines died on August 26, 1998.

Awards and Honors

· Fellow of the American Physical Society, 1957
· Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1966
· Stevens Honor Award, 1971
· Fellow, American Association Advancement of Science, 1979
· National Academy of Sciences, 1980
· J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize, 1981
· National Medal of Science, 1985
· Albert Einstein Memorial Lecturer, Israel Academy of the Sciences and Humanities, Jerusalem, 1988
· Michelson-Morley Award, 1990
· Foreign Member, Russian Academy of Sciences, 1994

The following press release from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences describes Reines' work:

Mankind seeks his place in nature. He endeavours to find answers to philosophical and physical questions alike. The home of mankind, the Universe, was created in a Big Bang. “What does this Universe consist of?” - "What are the smallest constituents of the Universe and what are their properties?" - "What can they tell us of the history of the Universe and of its future?" etc. This year's laureates have in this search made lasting contributions: They have discovered two of nature's most remarkable subatomic particles.

Frederick Reines made pioneering contributions during the 1950s together with the late Clyde L. Cowan, Jr., which led to their being able to demonstrate experimentally the existence of the antineutrino of the electron.

Frederick Reines' and Clyde L. Cowan's first observation of neutrinos was a pioneering contribution that opened the doors to the region of "impossible" neutrinoexperiments. Nowadays we are attempting to capture neutrinos in cosmic radiation that may originate in the sun or in supernovas (exploding stars). Because of the reluctance of neutrinos to react with atomic nuclei and thus allow themselves to be captured, very large detector volumes are required for these experiments. While Reines and Cowan in the 1950s managed with about half a cubic metre of water in their detector, large-scale experiments in the 1990s use many thousand cubic metres. Some experiments have even used surrounding sea or ice as their detector volume.

Sources: Wikipedia,, Nobel Prize Autobiography, Picture courtesy of Fermilab