US physicist Leon Lederman who won a Nobel in 1988, passes away at the age of 96 on Wednesday. The scientist is known for his brilliant contributions to the world of physics, including the coinage of the term “God particle.” Lederman died in Rexburg, Idaho in a nursing home of old age, suffering from a waning memory. But that’s not the only tragic part. To deal with the mounting medical bills, Lederman had no choice but to sell his Nobel medal for $765,000, according to a report The New York Times.
Lederman was born in New York City to Jewish parents of humble origins. His parents Minna and Morris Lederman were immigrants from Ukraine and his father worked as a laundryman. After graduating from City College of New York in 1943, Lederman joined the US Army with a BSc in Chemistry. He joined the Columbia University and received a PhD in 1951. Denis Mukwege & Nadia Murad Awarded Honour For Efforts to End Sexual Violence as Weapons of War & Armed Conflict.
From then, his career had only seen ups as he went on to become a full professor in 1958 as Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics. He also had a stint at CERN in Geneva as a Ford Foundation Fellow.
In 1988, he won the Nobel Prize with two others for his work on subatomic particles, namely the discovery of muon neutrino. The present generation may be able to relate to his recent work, the discovery of the Higgs boson particle, which he called the “God particle.” 2018 Nobel Prize Announcements Schedule: Prize in Literature to Be Awarded in 2019, Know Why?
He used a part of his prize money to buy a log cabin, where he moved to permanently after suffering from memory loss in 2011. To raise money for his treatment, the couple auctioned off his 1988 Nobel Prize medal for $765,000.
Although he died at the ripe age of 96, he was still victimised by the health care system in the US, which is expensive even for a Nobel-prize winning physicist of worldwide repute. According to a report in Vox, the US health care prices are more expensive when compared to countries such as the UK and Australia. A day in any of America’s hospital can run up a bill of $5,220.
According to the Vox article, Lederman’s story presented the best and the worst America can offer. Lederman who had humble beginnings gained international fame through his Nobel recognition. In his final days, however, he was victimised by the US health care system. A physicist of international repute had to auction off one of the biggest achievements to pay his medical bills is a modern tragedy.