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Isidor Rabi
Head and shoulders of man in suit and tie wearing glasses
Chairman of the President's Science Advisory Committee
In office
1956–1957
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded by Lee DuBridge
Succeeded by James Killian
Personal details
Born
Israel Isaac Rabi

(1898-07-29)July 29, 1898
Rymanów, Galicia, Austria-Hungary (now Poland)
Died January 11, 1988(1988-01-11) (aged 89)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Resting place Riverside Cemetery (Saddle Brook, New Jersey)
Education Cornell University (BS)
Columbia University (MS, PhD)
Awards Newcomb Cleveland Prize (1939)
Elliott Cresson Medal (1942)
Nobel Prize in Physics (1944)
Medal for Merit (1948)
Barnard Medal (1960)
Atoms for Peace Award (1967)
Oersted Medal (1982)
Public Welfare Medal (1985)
Vannevar Bush Award (1986)
Signature
Scientific career
Fields Physics
Institutions Columbia University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Thesis On the principal magnetic susceptibilities of crystals (1927)
Doctoral advisor Albert Potter Wills
Doctoral students Julian Schwinger
Norman Ramsey
Martin Perl
Harold Brown

Isidor Isaac Rabi ( born Israel Isaac Rabi, July 29, 1898 – January 11, 1988) was an American physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1944 for his discovery of nuclear magnetic resonance, which is used in magnetic resonance imaging. He was also one of the first scientists in the United States to work on the cavity magnetron, which is used in microwave radar and microwave ovens.

Born into a traditional Polish-Jewish family in Rymanów, Galicia, Rabi came to the United States as a baby and was raised in New York's Lower East Side. He entered Cornell University as an electrical engineering student in 1916, but soon switched to chemistry. Later, he became interested in physics. He continued his studies at Columbia University, where he was awarded his doctorate for a thesis on the magnetic susceptibility of certain crystals. In 1927, he headed for Europe, where he met and worked with many of the finest physicists of the time.

In 1929, Rabi returned to the United States, where Columbia offered him a faculty position. In collaboration with Gregory Breit, he developed the Breit–Rabi equation and predicted that the Stern–Gerlach experiment could be modified to confirm the properties of the atomic nucleus. His techniques for using nuclear magnetic resonance to discern the magnetic moment and nuclear spin of atoms earned him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1944. Nuclear magnetic resonance became an important tool for nuclear physics and chemistry, and the subsequent development of magnetic resonance imaging from it has also made it important to the field of medicine.

During World War II he worked on radar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Radiation Laboratory (RadLab) and on the Manhattan Project. After the war, he served on the General Advisory Committee (GAC) of the Atomic Energy Commission, and was chairman from 1952 to 1956. He also served on the Science Advisory Committees (SACs) of the Office of Defense Mobilization and the Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory, and was Science Advisor to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was involved with the establishment of the Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1946, and later, as United States delegate to UNESCO, with the creation of CERN in 1952. When Columbia created the rank of University Professor in 1964, Rabi was the first to receive that position. A special chair was named after him in 1985. He retired from teaching in 1967 but remained active in the department and held the title of University Professor Emeritus and Special Lecturer until his death.

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