Monday, March 26, 2018

Donald Glaser (1926-2013): Nobel Prize Laureate

Donald Glaser
Donald Glaser was born on September 21, 1926, in Cleveland, Ohio, to Russian Jewish immigrants, Lena and William J. Glaser.. He enjoyed music and played the piano, violin, and viola. He went to Cleveland Heights High School, where he became interested in physics as a means to understand the physical world.

Glaser completed his Bachelor of Science degree in physics and mathematics from Case School of Applied Science in 1946. He completed his Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1949. Glaser accepted a position as an instructor at the University of Michigan in 1949, and was promoted to professor in 1957. He joined the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley, in 1959, as a Professor of Physics. 

While teaching at Michigan, Glaser began to work on experiments that led to the creation of the bubble chamber, an apparatus designed to make the tracks of ionizing particles visible as a row of bubbles in a liquid. The bubble chamber enabled him to observe the paths and lifetimes of particles. He was awarded the 1960 Nobel Prize for Physics for his invention, The bubble chamber allowed scientists to observe what happens to high-energy beams from an accelerator, thus paving the way for many important discoveries.

Starting in 1962, Glaser changed his field of research to molecular biology, starting with a project on ultraviolet-induced cancer. In 1964, he was given the additional title of Professor of Molecular Biology.

Fermilab's Bubble Chamber
Glaser received many honors in addition to the Nobel Prize, including the Henry Russell Award for distinction and promise in teaching and research, the Charles Vernon Boys Prize of the Physical Society for distinction in experimental physics, the American Physical Society Prize for his contributions to experimental physics, and an honorary degree of Doctor of Science by the Case Institute of Technology.

In 1971, with two others, he helped found one of the first biotechnology companies, the Cetus Corporation, which developed the cancer therapies interleukin-2 and interferon. The company was sold in 1991 to Chiron Corporation.

He died in his sleep at the age of 86 on February 28, 2013 in Berkeley, California.

SOURCE: Berkeley Lab, Nobel Prize website, Wikipedia, NY Times

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