William M. Fairbank

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William Martin Fairbank (24 February 1917 in Minneapolis – 30 September 1989 in Palo Alto) was an American physicist known in particular for his work on liquid helium.[1]

Fairbank obtained his A. B. degree from Whitman College (1939) and his Ph.D. in physics from Yale University (1948) under the supervision of C. T. Lane.[2] He then went on to a productive academic career.[3][4]


Fairbank had, at Duke, 7 doctoral students and, at Stanford, 47 doctoral students, including Blas Cabrera, Bascom S. Deaver, Alexander J. Dessler and Arthur F. Hebard. His three sons are: William M. Fairbank Jr. (a physicist and Fellow of the APS),[5] Robert Harold Fairbank (an antitrust, business, consumer and IP lawyer in Los Angeles), and Richard Dana Fairbank (founder and CEO of Capital One). He was involved in work on Gravity Probe B.



  1. ^ Cabrera, Blas; Everitt, C. W. F.; Deaver Jr., Bascom S. (February 1991). "Obituary. William M. Fairbank". Physics Today. 44 (2): 112–113. Bibcode:1991PhT....44b.112C. doi:10.1063/1.2810005.
  2. ^ APS - 2006 APS March Meeting - Event - Low Temperature Physics at Yale in the late 30's through the early 50's The low temperature program at Yale was initiated by Cecil Taverner Lane (1904–1991) in 1937.
  3. ^ http://www.aip.org/history/acap/biographies/bio.jsp?fairbankw APS Biography
  4. ^ http://www.phy.duke.edu/william-m-fairbank Duke University Biography
  5. ^ William M. Fairbank Jr. | Physics, Colorado State University website