May 27, 1925|
Chicago, United States
|Died||November 30, 1999
New York City, United States
|Alma mater||Northwestern University
University of Chicago
|Known for||Goldberger-Treiman relation
|Awards||Oersted Medal (1985)|
|Doctoral advisor||Enrico Fermi
John Alexander Simpson
|Doctoral students||Curtis Callan
Stephen L. Adler
Young Suh Kim
Paul B. Kantor
Herbert H. Chen
Sam Bard Treiman (May 27, 1925 – November 30, 1999) was an American theoretical physicist who produced research in the fields of cosmic rays, quantum physics, plasma physics and gravity physics. He made contributions to the understanding of the weak interaction and he and his students are credited with developing the so-called standard model of elementary particle physics. He was a professor of physics at Princeton University, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and member of the JASON Defense Advisory Group. He was a student of Enrico Fermi and John Alexander Simpson Jr. Treiman published articles on quantum mechanics, plasmas, gravity theory, condensed matter and the history of physics.
Treiman's parents, Abraham and Sarah, were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe who emigrated to Chicago. Sam had a brother, Oscar, who was six years older. Sam was educated in the Chicago public school system and, after graduating high school in 1942, he entered Northwestern University, electing to study chemical engineering. After two years at Northwestern he joined the navy, training as a radar repair technician and he spent the last year of the war as a petty officer in the Philippines, doing, in his words, "a prodigious amount of reading in the peaceful jungles - novels and science". After the war he went to the University of Chicago, receiving a B.S. (1949) and M.S. (1950), having changed his major to physics. He received an Atomic Energy Commission predoctoral fellowship and in 1952 he was granted a PhD by the University of Chicago. His doctoral thesis dealt with the physics of cosmic rays, and the work was done under the supervision of John Alexander Simpson. While at the university, Sam met his wife, Joan Little, an educational psychologist. They have three children - Rebecca, Katherine and Thomas.
Sam began teaching at Princeton in 1952 as an instructor. He spent his entire career at Princeton - associate professor (1958–63), professor (1963–77) and Eugen Higgins Professor of Physics (1977–1998). He served as chair of the physics department (1981–87) and chair of the University Research Board (1988–95). Probably his best known student at Princeton was Steven Weinberg, recipient of the Nobel Prize in physics in 1979. Other well known students are Nicola Khuri (1957), Curtis Callan (1964), and Stephen L. Adler (1964).
When Fermilab was set up in 1970, the founder, Robert R. Wilson, invited Treiman to direct the theory group. Rather than leave Princeton permanently, Treiman took a number of extended leaves of absence, in order to get the group started. As a member of the National Academy of Sciences and JASON Defense Advisory Group, he was a key advisor to the U.S. Government in the fields of plasma physics, physics education and strategic planning. Treiman and his wife were active members of CUSPEA - a program conceived by T.D. Lee to facilitate the admission of mainland Chinese students to graduate education in the U.S. The couple visited China in 1981, 1982 and 1988 to examine and interview prospective candidates.
A feature of Treiman's work was his ability to devise simple, unambiguous experimental tests for theoretical predictions and phenomena. In addition to his own work, Treiman was widely recognized as a teacher and mentor, supervising more than two dozen graduate students over three decades. His Socratic teaching style enabled his students to gain valuable insights without having been spoon fed the results. He was known for his general wisdom as well as his expertise. One of his more paradoxical sayings is known as Treiman's theorem: "Impossible things usually don't happen." Treiman was awarded the Oersted medal by the American Association of Physics Teachers in 1995. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.
Sam Treiman died of leukemia on November 30, 1999.
- Biographical memoir for the National Academy of Sciences by Steve Adler, pg. 1.
- Adler, op. cit. pg 2
- Adler, Stephen L. (August 2000). "Obituary: Sam Bard Treiman". Physics Today. 53 (8): 63. Bibcode:2000PhT....53h..63A. doi:10.1063/1.1310130.
- Frank Wilczek and Betsy Devine, Longing for the Harmonies: Themes and Variations from Modern Physics (1987)
Publications of Sam Treiman
- Sam Treiman's publication records in SPIRES 
- Treiman, Sam B. (1999). The Odd Quantum. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-00926-0.
- Photonics: Managing Competitiveness in the Information Era, Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics and Applications, Vice Chairman S. Treiman, Board on Physics and Astronomy, National Academy of Sciences (1988)
Major scientific achievements
- 1957 (with J. David Jackson and Henry Wyld) - definitive theory of allowed beta decays, taking into account time and parity violations
- 1958 (with Marvin Goldberger) dispersion relations analysis of pion and nucleon beta decay, culminating in the Goldberger-Treiman relationship for the charged pion decay amplitude. This work eventually led to the hypothesis of the partially conserved axial vector current, known as PCAC and to a deeper understanding of spontaneously broken chiral symmetry of the strong interaction.
- 1962 (with C.N. Yang) Treiman-Yang angle test for single pion exchange dominance
- 1966 (with Curtis Callan) derivation of the Callan–Treiman relations for K meson decay.
- 1971 (with David Gross) scaling in vector gluon exchange theories, coining the term twist for the difference between the dimension and spin of an operator.
- 1972 (with Abraham Pais) deriving the implications of weak neutral currents for inclusive neutrino reactions.
Publications about Sam Treiman
- Abraham Pais, The Genius of Science: a Portrait Gallery of Twentieth Century Physicists, Oxford University Press (2000)
- Paul Hartman, A Memoir to the Physical Review, A History of the First One Hundred Years, American Institute of Physics (1994) ISBN 1-56396-282-9
- "Sam Bard Treiman" A biographical memoir for the American Physical Society by Val Fitch (2002).
- "Sam Bard Treiman" A biographical memoir for the National Academy of Sciences by Stephen L. Adler (2001).