Martin L. Perl
Wolf Prize Laureate in Physics 1982
The Prize Committee for Physics has unanimously decided that the Wolf Prize for 1982 should be equally divided between: Martin L. Perl and Leon M. Lederman
Martin L. Perl
Stanford Linear Accelerator Center
Stanford University California
Stanford, California, USA
“for their experimental discovery of unexpected new particles establishing a third generation quarks and leptons” .
Professor Martin L. Perl single -handedly pushed, inspired, and directed the search for a new heavy lepton, which was not wanted by any theory and was not expected by the vast majority of particle physicists. The Perl group designed the apparatus to provide an unambiguous signature of the production and decay of a pair of heavy leptons. After the first events indicating the production of a pair of tau leptons, an intense period of review and criticism was required to verify this hypothesis. Since each candidate tau decayed into a visible electron or muon and a neutrino, which always escaped detection, the unambiguous identification of the tau presented unusual difficulty. Subsequent experiments determined many properties of the tau lepton and proved that the neutrino emitted in its decay is not one of the two known neutrinos and must be a sixth lepton completing the third lepton family. While many people contributed to these experiments, it was Professor Perl who guided the work and it was his careful analysis of the early data, which proved the existence of the new particle.