Robert Eugene Marshak (October 11, 1916 – December 23, 1992) was an American physicist dedicated to learning, research, and education.
Marshak was born in the Bronx, New York City. His parents, Harry and Rose Marshak, were immigrants from Minsk. He went to the City College of New York for one semester and then "received a Pulitzer Scholarship which provided full tuition and a stipend which allowed him to continue his education at Columbia University."
In 1939, Marshak received his Ph.D. from Cornell University. Along with his thesis advisor, Hans Bethe, he discovered many of the fusion aspects involved in star formation. This helped him on his work for the Manhattan Project, in Los Alamos, during World War II.
In 1957, he and George Sudarshan proposed a V-A ("vector" minus "axial vector") Lagrangian for weak interactions, which was later presented by Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann. It is known that Murray Gell-Mann had learned the theory from George Sudarshan. Similarly, Richard Feynman learned about the theory from a discussion with Marshak in a conference. "Perhaps Marshak's most significant scientific contribution was the proposal of the V-A Theory of Weak Interactions (the fourth force in nature) in collaboration with his student George Sudarshan. Unfortunately, the pair published the theory only in a conference proceedings for a meeting in Italy. Six months later, a different derivation of the same concept was published by Feynman and Gell-Mann in a mainstream scientific journal. Marshak had talked with Feynman about the general problem in California some time before. Though the V-A Concept was considered to be one of the most important contributions to theoretical physics, a Nobel Prize was never awarded for it." Sudarshan commented in a 2006 TV interview that Murray Gell-Mann got the idea from him during an informal coffee time.
From 1956 to 1970, he was chairman of the University of Rochester Department of Physics.
- Collections, Special. "Robert E. Marshak: A Brief Biography". http://spec.lib.vt.edu/. Virginia Tech. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
- Mehra, Jagdish (1994). The Beat of a Different Drum: The life and science of Richard Feynman. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press. pp. 245–249. ISBN 0-19-853948-7.
- Daniels, Lee A. (25 December 1992). "Robert E. Marshak, 76, Ex-Head of City College". NY Times.
- Biography at the Virginia Tech Digital Library and Archives (accessed 5 November 2007).
- Biographical Memoir at the National Academy of Scientists (accessed 5 November 2007).
- Robert Eugene Marshak at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
Buell G. Gallagher
|President of City College of New York
1970 – 1979
Bernard W. Harleston
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