Dr. Edwin E. Salpeter

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    Cornell University

    Featured Author: Edwin Salpeter

    Salpeter-Courtesy of Clemson University and Donald D Clayton.jpg

    Edwin Ernest Salpeter (3 December 1924 - 26 November 2008) gained his PhD in quantum electrodynamics from University of Birmingham in 1948, under the supervision of Sir Rudolf Peierls. This lead Salpeter to postdoctoral work at the Cornell University with Hans Bethe, a good friend of Peierls. Salpeter spent at Cornell the rest of his career, retiring in 1997.

    During his productive and versatile career, Salpeter amassed a number of medals and awards: Carnegie Institution of Washington, Award for Research in Astrophysics, 1959; Royal Astronomical Society, Gold medal, 1973; American Astronomical Society, Henry Norris Russell Lectureship, 1974; Astronomische Gesellschaft, Karl Schwarzschild Medal, 1985; Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Catherine Wolfe Bruce Medal, 1987; Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Crafoord prize, 1997; American Physical Society, Hans A. Bethe Prize, 1999.

    In 1951, Salpeter and Hans Bethe introduced the Bethe-Salpeter equation, which describes the bound states of a pair of elementary particles in a relativistic quantum field theory. Salpeter also showed how carbon atoms can be produced from helium atoms in nuclear reactions within certain stars, which provided an explanation for the origin of elements heavier than helium. In 1964 Salpeter suggested that accretion discs around massive black holes are responsible for the huge amounts of energy radiated by quasars. Later in his career, he branched into neurobiology with his wife, Miriam Mark Salpeter, professor of neurobiology and behavior at Cornell University, and applied mathematical calculations in the field of epidemiology.

    Scholarpedia articles:

    Bethe-Salpeter equation (origins). Scholarpedia, 3(11):7483 (2008).

    Photo courtesy of Clemson University and Donald D. Clayton.
    (Profile by Thea marie Drachen)
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