Street Corner Science: Leon Lederman - Pt. 1

  by Tom Fishman  |  August 21st, 2008  |  Published in All, Environment, Physics & Space

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ScienCentral is taking science to the people in its first installment of “Street Corner Science,” a brand new feature where a film crew and a renowned scientist are plunked down on a busy city street corner, and an impromptu Q&A session with the public ensues. This video is the first of two “Street Corner Science” segments featuring Dr. Lederman-be sure to check out Part 2 here!

[If you cannot see the You Tube video below, you can click here for a high quality mp4 video.]

Directed by Toni Subklewe
Produced by Tom Fishman & Brad Kloza
Edited by Tom Fishman & Charles Young
Special Thanks to Dr. Leon Lederman
Copyright © ScienCentral, Inc.

UPDATE: “Street Corner Science” has been featured at the popular physics blog Cosmic Variance! Check it out here.

What Would You Ask?

In “Street Corner Science,” a ScienCentral original web series, pedestrians are given the chance to sit down with a world-class scientist and ask him or her any question they like about science, or anything else on their minds. In this episode, Nobel-Prize-winning physicist Dr. Leon Lederman graciously answers a varied and astute array of questions from some lucky passersby. This video is the first of two “Street Corner Science” segments featuring Dr. Lederman, so be sure to check back with for more!

More About Our Host

Leon Max Lederman was born in New York City, the second son of Russian-Jewish immigrants. He studied chemistry at City College of New York, receiving his BS in 1943. After three years in the army during World War II, he studied physics at Columbia University, earning his Master’s in 1948 and his Ph.D. in 1951. He stayed on at Columbia for nearly 30 years where he, with colleagues and students, led a wide-ranging series of experiments that have provided major advances in the understanding of “weak interactions,” one of the fundamental nuclear forces.

In the early 1960s, Dr. Lederman and his colleagues were focused on neutrinos, ghostlike particles that pass through everything in the universe. At the time, only the electron neutrino was known, and the scientists wondered if they could find more types of neutrinos. In 1962, Dr. Lederman, with his colleagues, succeeded in identifying the second such particle: the muon neutrino.

Lederman receives the Nobel Prize for Physics from King Carl XVI Gustaf, December 10, 1988.
Image courtesy FNAL.

In 1988, Dr. Lederman and his partners Melvin Schwartz and Jack Steinberger were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for “transforming the ghostly neutrino into an active tool of research.” Since the team’s work, neutrinos have been used as a way of analyzing everything from the structure of the atomic nucleus to the energy level of an exploding star, or supernova.

Today, Dr. Lederman is Pritzker Professor of Physics at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has received numerous awards besides the Nobel, including the National Medal of Science (1965), the Elliot Cresson Medal of the Franklin Institute (1976), and the Wolf Prize in Physics (1982). He is a past chairman and president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1993 he was awarded the Enrico Fermi Prize by President Clinton. He has served as founding member of the High-Energy Physics Advisory Panel and the International Committee for Future Accelerators.

Dr. Lederman has published over 200 papers, and co-authored the books, The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question? (1989, written with Dick Teresi) and From Quarks to the Cosmos: Tools of Discovery (1995, co-author David N. Schramm). In these works, Lederman delves into the mysteries of matter, discussing particle accelerators and the yet-to-be-discovered “God particle.”

Dr. Lederman is a staunch advocate of the importance of math and science education and outreach programs for today’s youth.


Check out Dr. Lederman’s profile, his 1988 Nobel Lecture, and more at The Nobel Foundation’s website.

Dr. Lederman is Director Emeritus at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

Dr. Lederman also founded the Illinois Math and Science Academy, and is one of the main proponents of the Physics First movement, which aims to rearrange the current high school curriculum so that physics precedes biology and chemistry.

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  1. fuzzyleaves says:

    August 21st, 2008 at 5:38 pm (#)

    That is very cool. I never knew about the Great force.

  2. Tom_Fishman says:

    August 22nd, 2008 at 9:31 am (#)

    I think you mean the strong force fuzzy; for more info on the apparently different fundamental forces, click here. (I say “apparently” because phycisists would like to be able to show that these seemingly disparate forces are actually different manifestations of the same fundamental force!)

  3. Wishie says:

    August 22nd, 2008 at 3:31 pm (#)

    Dear fuzzy what kinda leaves u been smokin?

  4. Street Corner Science with Leon Lederman | Cosmic Variance says:

    August 26th, 2008 at 10:05 am (#)

    [...] and the site has a lot of goodies (including a nascent blog). Here is a fun clip featuring Leon Lederman sitting on the sidewalk and answering science questions from passers-by. (This doesn’t [...]

  5. Street Corner Science with Leon Lederman - Pt. 2 | ScienCentral says:

    August 28th, 2008 at 11:31 am (#)

    [...]  by Toni Subklewe  |  August 28th, 2008  |  Published in All, Featured, Physics & Space Share Post: digg_bgcolor = ‘#cccccc’; digg_skin = ‘compact’; digg_window = ‘new’;  |   |  Stumble |  ARTICLEURL |  SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: “Street Corner Science with Leon Lederman - Pt. 2″, url: “” }); Dr. Leon Lederman, 1988 Nobel Laureate in Physics, is back on the street answering your science questions in Part 2 of “Street Corner Science with Leon Lederman.” This video is the second of two “Street Corner Science” segments featuring Dr. Lederman; be sure to check out Part 1 here! [...]

  6. Tom_Fishman says:

    August 28th, 2008 at 11:44 am (#)

    In this segment, Dr. Lederman addresses the question of what went on before the big bang, and his response is informed by ideas from Einstein's famous theory of gravitation, General Relativity. Here is an interesting post from Sean Carroll at the blog Cosmic Variance that explores some ideas on the topic within theoretical frameworks attempting to look beyond the scope of Einstein's theory.

  7. » Street Corner Science says:

    September 19th, 2008 at 11:40 am (#)

    [...] has two videos on their site of a project where they put Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon Lederman at a [...]

  8. ¿Qué sucedería si te encontraras en una esquina cualquiera a un premio Nóbel de física respondiendo preguntas? says:

    September 23rd, 2008 at 7:15 am (#)

    [...] ¿Qué sucedería si te encontraras en una esquina cualquiera a un premio Nóbel de física respondi…… por mezvan hace pocos segundos [...]

  9. Ask a Nobel Laureate « Enleitened says:

    September 23rd, 2008 at 7:44 am (#)

    [...] ScienCentral. Part 2 is also [...]

  10. Roberto says:

    September 23rd, 2008 at 7:55 am (#)

    Fantastic idea.

  11. Roberto says:

    September 23rd, 2008 at 8:06 am (#)

    And wouldn't it have been great if Stephen Hawking had rolled up at the end to ask a REALLY tough one!

  12. Ciencia y sociedad « Ribap says:

    September 23rd, 2008 at 10:35 am (#)

    [...] se le acerque a preguntarle lo que quiera sobre ciencia. Sencillo y muy efectivo! Aquí os dejo el link. El científico es Leon Max Lederman que recibió el Nobel en el 1988 por sus trabajos en Física [...]

  13. David Adams says:

    September 23rd, 2008 at 11:09 am (#)

    What a great mental image.

  14. Ont says:

    September 23rd, 2008 at 12:17 pm (#)

    Lederman is better than Hawking!

  15. via « …being the blog of Aaron Hefel… says:

    September 23rd, 2008 at 3:40 pm (#)

    [...] show and tell with the nobel laureate [...]

  16. tlo says:

    September 23rd, 2008 at 4:34 pm (#)

    Lederman and Hawking are both on my Fantasy Physics team. They individually and consistently score higher than such hacks as Brian Greene.

  17. Mare Magnum | Street Corner Science: clases callejeras de un Premio Nobel de Física says:

    September 25th, 2008 at 5:15 am (#)

    [...] eso es básicamente lo que ha hecho ScienCentral con Leon Lederman, Premio Nobel de Física en 1988 por sus trabajos con los neutrinos y descubridor [...]

  18. Observe The Banana » Street corner science lessons with a Nobel Laureate says:

    September 29th, 2008 at 12:40 pm (#)

    [...] ScienCentral via [...]

  19. Hits Singapore » Blog Archive » Street corner science lessons with a Nobel Laureate says:

    October 1st, 2008 at 2:18 am (#)

    [...] Corner Science.” Lederman talked about time travel, nuclear power, and, particle physics. Street Corner Science with Leon Lederman (ScienCentral, via Eastern [...]

  20. Jacks of Science » Blog Archive » Sir Roger Penrose Gives Me Inspiration To Calculate says:

    October 7th, 2008 at 12:13 am (#)

    [...] Penrose spoke overtime on the nature of our universe before the Big Bang. I like to think of the lecture as an hour and a half of supplementary material to Leon Lederman’s 10 second hand-wavey answer to the very same question in Street Corner Science Part 1. [...]

  21. Артур says:

    May 23rd, 2009 at 11:09 am (#)

    Просто отлично написано! Надобыотметить на ХабрХабре. :)

  22. BaLaM says:

    May 27th, 2009 at 10:30 pm (#)

    Автор, а скажите а куда написать по поводу обмена ссылок (на какое конкретно мыло)?

  23. Street Corner Science with Stephen Benkovic | ScienCentral | Science Videos | Science News says:

    June 10th, 2009 at 12:30 pm (#)

    [...] Street Corner Science with Leon Lederman 08.21.08 [...]

  24. Мурат says:

    June 17th, 2009 at 3:38 pm (#)

    Люблю посты в таком духе! Сенкс :)

  25. Максим Семин says:

    July 25th, 2009 at 4:49 am (#)

    Да уж, судя по комментариям тут на сайте, никому не повредит умение ярче высказвать свои мысли, поддерживать интересную беседу, быть остроумным в конце концов… :)

  26. нeвидимкa says:

    July 27th, 2009 at 5:32 am (#)

    Приветствую! Нельзя ли ссылочками с вами обменяться?

  27. бaкинeц says:

    August 20th, 2009 at 12:00 pm (#)

    Занимательно и полезно, а будет еще что-то по этой теме?

  28. Федор says:

    August 22nd, 2009 at 11:33 pm (#)

    А я так посмотрю, Вы как обычно немногословны ;)

  29. Бaбyшкa says:

    August 26th, 2009 at 9:28 am (#)

    Интересно. Думаю многие будут не согласны..

  30. Eliene says:

    June 6th, 2010 at 7:42 pm (#)

    All hail the strong force.

  31. Conversando con el autor de La Partícula Divina « Conexión causal says:

    July 2nd, 2012 at 9:38 pm (#)

    [...] contarle a la comunidad de qué se trata la física de partículas e inclusó partícipó en “Street Corner Science” donde sentado en las calles la gente se acercaba a hacerle preguntas sobre física. Su pasión [...]

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