Sidney Drell

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Sidney Drell
Born(1926-09-13)September 13, 1926
DiedDecember 21, 2016(2016-12-21) (aged 90)
Alma materUniversity of Illinois
Known forDrell–Yan process
Children3, including Persis[1]
AwardsE. O. Lawrence Award (1972)
Pomeranchuk Prize (1998)
Enrico Fermi Award (2000)
Heinz Award for Public Policy (2005)
National Medal of Science (2011)
Scientific career
InstitutionsStanford Linear Accelerator Center
ThesisPart I Magnetic internal conversion coefficient Part II Electrostatic scattering of neutrons Part III Anomalous magnetic moments of nucleons (1949)
Doctoral advisorSidney Dancoff
Doctoral studentsJames Bjorken
Steven Frautschi
Roscoe Giles
Robert Jaffe
Heinz Pagels
Joel Primack

Sidney David Drell (September 13, 1926 – December 21, 2016) was an American theoretical physicist[2] and arms control expert.[3]

At the time of his death, he was professor emeritus at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) and senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. Drell was a noted contributor in the fields of quantum electrodynamics and high-energy particle physics. The Drell–Yan process, which was used to discover the Higgs boson, is partially named for him.[2]


Born in Atlantic City, New Jersey on September 13, 1926,[2] Drell graduated from Atlantic City High School in 1943, at the age of sixteen.[4][5]

Drell entered Princeton for the summer term in July 1943, and worked with Josef-Maria Jauch in his junior year and completing his senior thesis "Radiating Electrons" with John Archibald Wheeler.[2] He earned his undergraduate degree in physics from Princeton University in 1946.[4] He was awarded a masters in physics in 1947 and received his PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in 1949. He co-authored the textbooks Relativistic Quantum Mechanics and Relativistic Quantum Fields with James Bjorken.[2]

Drell was active as a scientific advisor to the U.S. government, and was a founding member of the JASON Defense Advisory Group.[2] He was also on the board of directors of Los Alamos National Security, the company that operates the Los Alamos National Laboratory.[6] He was an expert in the field of nuclear arms control and cofounder of the Center for International Security and Arms Control, now the Center for International Security and Cooperation. He was a Senior Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution and a trustee Emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.[7]

He was the father of Persis Drell, former head of SLAC national accelerator lab, former dean of the Stanford University School of Engineering, and (through Fall 2023) provost of Stanford University; Joanna Drell, Professor of History and chair of the Department of History at the University of Richmond;[8] and Daniel Drell, a program officer at the U.S. Department of Energy. Sidney Drell died in December 2016 at his home in Palo Alto, California at the age of 90.[3]

Awards and honors[edit]


  1. ^ Schudel, Matt (December 24, 2016). "Sidney Drell, physicist and arms-control expert, dies at 90". The Washington Post.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Jaffe, Robert; Jeanloz, Raymond (19 October 2019). "Sidney David Drell (September 13, 1926–December 21, 2016): A Biographical Memoir". Annual Review of Nuclear and Particle Science. 69 (1): 1–14. Bibcode:2019ARNPS..69....1J. doi:10.1146/annurev-nucl-020619-120837. ISSN 0163-8998. S2CID 209945149.
  3. ^ a b Kubota, Taylor (22 December 2016). "Sidney Drell, theoretical physicist and national security expert at Stanford, dies at 90". Stanford News. Retrieved 28 March 2023.
  4. ^ a b Grimes, William (23 December 2016). "Sidney Drell, Who Advised Presidents on Nuclear Weapons, Dies at 90". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 March 2023.
  5. ^ Aaserud, Finn (July 1, 1986). "Oral histories: Sidney Drell". American Institute of Physics. Retrieved 2022-02-02.
  6. ^ "Los Alamos National Security, LLC Announces Board of Governors". 19 January 2006. Retrieved 28 March 2023.
  7. ^ "Drell awarded NNSA Administrator's Gold Medal of Excellence | Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory". LLNL Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Retrieved 28 March 2023.
  8. ^ "Joanna Drell - History - University of Richmond".
  9. ^ "Drell, Sidney D." National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
  10. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter D" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
  11. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved 2022-05-09.
  12. ^ The Heinz Awards, Sidney Drell profile

External links[edit]