Yale Professor Honored for Achievements in the History of Physics

The first annual Abraham Pais Award for the History of Physics was presented to Martin J. Klein, Eugene Higgins Professor Emeritus of Physics and the History of Science at Yale University, in recognition of his outstanding scholarly achievements in the history of physics.

This major award was established by the American Physical Society and the American Institute of Physics in honor of Abraham Pais, the renowned theoretical particle physicist and historian of physics, who died in July 2000. The award is the first established specifically for the history of physics.

Klein received the award “for his pioneering studies in the history of 19th and 20th century physics, which embody the highest standards of scholarship and literary expression and have profoundly influenced generations of historians of physics.” The award included a citation certificate, an honorarium and presentation of the Pais Award lecture: “Physics, History, and the History of Physics” at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society on April 18, in Tampa, FL.

Klein’s physics research was principally on the theory of thin ferromagnetic films and problems of statistical mechanics. After earning his A.B. and A.M. degrees from Columbia University, he received a Ph.D. from MIT in 1949. He began his teaching career at Case Institute of Technology and joined the Yale faculty as Professor of the History of Physics in 1967. He chaired the department of the History of Science and Medicine from 1971 until 1974 when he was named Eugene Higgins Professor of the History of Physics and Professor of Physics; He has been emeritus from Yale since 1999.

“Martin Klein helped pioneer the history of relativity and quantum physics, bringing to these subjects his deep knowledge of physics, discerning judgment, and mastery of the tools of scholarship. The Pais Award is a wonderful and fitting acknowledgement of his outstanding historical achievements,” said Daniel J. Kevles, Stanley Woodward Professor of History and Director of Graduate Studies for the Program in the History of Science & Medicine at Yale.

He authored many historical papers and biographies of several noted scientists for the Dictionary of Scientific Biography. He served in editorial positions including senior editor of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein from 1988 to 1998. He was elected to the Academie Internatinale d’Histoire des Sciences (1971), the National Academy of Sciences (1977) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1979).

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Janet Rettig Emanuel: janet.emanuel@yale.edu, 203-432-2157