He attends New York City schools, including James Madison High School. He reads a lot and loves all things mechanical. At graduation, he receives the physics medal. But since his family insists that he earn a good living, and they weren’t sure if that was possible in physics, he then decides to become an engineer.
Perl gets job offers from Yale, Illinois and Michigan. He chooses Michigan because there he would have the most freedom. There he works with bubble chambers and spark chambers.
He moves to the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center of Stanford University. In experiments between 1974 and 1977, he discovers the tau lepton, a short-lived elementary particle that is like a heavy “cousin” of the electron: It is negatively charged like the electron, but about 3500 times heavier.
Martin Perl dies in Palo Alto, CA.
Martin Perl is awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1995, sharing the honor with Frederick Reines, who discovered the neutrino. The tau lepton was the first particle of the “third generation” that was discovered, which was an important step towards the completion of the Standard Model of particle physics.
Perl joins the General Electric Company. After a year in a training program, he settles in Schenectady, NY, working as a chemical engineer in the Electron Tube Division. He works on problems like speeding up the production of television picture tubes. For this he takes some courses in Union College in Schenectady: atomic physics and advanced calculus. There he discovers his interest in physics.
He enters the physics doctoral program in Columbia University even without much prior knowledge about the topic. But he succeeds by working hard and receives his PhD in 1955. He learns experimental physics from Isidor Rabi, who also awakens his interest in particle physics.
During the war, he joins the US Merchant Marine. After the end of the war, he is drafted to an army installation in Washington, DC.
Martin Lewis Perl is born in Brooklyn, NY. His parents are Jewish immigrants from Poland.
In 1942, he begins to study chemical engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of New York (now New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering). That is an unusual choice at that time, because there is still a lot of anti-semitism in engineering companies. After an interruption because of military service, he returns and receives a Bachelor in 1948.