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I.I Rabi, 1898-1988.

I.I. Rabi, 1898-1988

Isidor Isaac Rabi, known to generations of physicists as I.I. Rabi, died Jan. 11 at his ome in New York City. He was 89.

For decades a member of the Columbia University faculty, he was known particularly as a teacher of great physicists and a kind of moral conscience of the physics community.

Having started out as a chemist, Rabi became a specialist in atomic and molecular physics and particularly in the magnetic interactions of atoms and molecules. He received the 1944 Nobel prize for physics for the invention of a very sensitive device for determining the magnetic interactions and the spins of atoms and molecules. The ability to determine such fundamental properties precisely helped make possible the development of such things as atomic clocks, laser, masers and nuclear magnetic resonance scanning.

Rabi was born July 29, 1898, in the town of Rymanow in what was then Austria-Hungary. He was a baby when his parents brought him to New York City and settled on the Lower East Side, where his father worked as a tailor. He always thought it miraculous that he could have come so far from such poor beginnings. He did his undergraduate work at Cornell University; his doctorate in physics came from Columbia University in 1927. For two years he worked in various European laboratories with famous physicists of that time. Then, in 1929, Columbia offered him a faculty position. He remained on the Columbia faculty basically for the rest of his active life. During World War II he worked on radar problems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and also on the Manhattan Project. Later he was a science adviser to President Dwight Eisenhower.
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Author:Thomsen, Dietrick E.
Publication:Science News
Article Type:obituary
Date:Jan 23, 1988
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