Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky: History
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Basic Information

Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky
Name: Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky
(Apr 1919–Sep 2007)
Berlin, Germany
Title: Physicist
Affiliation: University of California, Berkeley, Stanford
Honors: Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award (1961) National Medal of Science (1969) Franklin Medal (1970) Enrico Fermi Award (1979) Leo Szilard Award (1982)

1. Introduction

Wolfgang Kurt Hermann "Pief" Panofsky (April 24, 1919 – September 24, 2007), was a German-American physicist who won many awards including the National Medal of Science.

2. Early Life

Panofsky was born in Berlin, Germany to a family of art historians Dorothea and Erwin Panofsky. His ancestors were of Jewish descent. He spent much of his early life in Hamburg, where his father was a Professor of Art History. From the age of 10, he attended the Johanneum, where he received a classical education involving Latin and Ancient Greek, but little science.[1] At the age of 15, he moved with his family to the United States and entered Princeton University.[2] He graduated with an A.B. in physics from Princeton University, as salutatorian of his class,[1] in 1938 after completing a senior thesis, titled "The construction of a high pressure ionisation chamber", under the supervision of Walker Bleakney.[3] He then received his Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1942 after completing a doctoral dissertation, titled "A measurement of the value of h/e by the determination of the short wavelength limit of the continuous x-ray spectrum at 20 kV", under the supervision of J. W. M. DuMond.[4][5] In April 1942 he was naturalized as a U.S. citizen.[6]

3. Academic Career

From 1945 to 1951, Panofsky held an assistant and then associate professorship at the University of California, Berkeley, before permanently establishing himself as Professor of Physics at Stanford University. Between 1961 and 1984, he was the director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and continued to serve as director emeritus until his death.[7] He was also on the Board of Directors of the Arms Control Association from 1996 until 1999.

Panofsky was a member of the Board of Sponsors of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists[8] and won the Matteucci Medal in 1996 for his fundamental contributions to physics. He was also a recipient of the National Medal of Science, the Franklin Medal (1970), the Ernest O. Lawrence Medal, the Leo Szilard Award and the Enrico Fermi Award.[5]

4. Personal Life

During his college days, Panofsky was called "Pief" by fellow students who found his full name unpronounceable. The childhood nickname seemed to suit the ebullient physicist, and it stayed with him throughout his long life.[9] His elder brother, Hans A. Panofsky, was "an atmospheric scientist who taught at Pennsylvania State University for 30 years and who was credited with several advances in the study of meteorology".[10]

Panofsky married Adele I. DuMond, daughter of his PhD advisor in 1942.[11] Adele Panofsky was also known at SLAC for her role in the building of the mounted Paleoparadoxia fossil skeleton display at the SLAC Visitors Center.[12]

5. Awards[5]

  • Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award (1961)
  • California Institute of Technology Alumni Distinguished Service Award (1966)
  • California Scientist of the Year Award (1967)
  • National Medal of Science (1969)
  • Franklin Medal (1970)
  • Annual Public Service Award, Federation of American Scientists (1973)
  • Enrico Fermi Award (1979)
  • Leo Szilard Award (1982)
  • Shoong Foundation Hall of Fame in Science (1983)
  • Hilliard Roderick Prize (AAAS-1991)
  • Honorary doctorates from the Faculty of Mathematics and Science at Uppsala University, Sweden,[13] and from Princeton University[11]
  • Matteucei Medal (Rome, 1997)
  • International Scientific and Technological Award from the People's Republic of China (2001)

6. Death

Panofsky died at the age of 88 on September 24, 2007 in Los Altos, California, from a heart attack. Panofsky stayed active at SLAC until his last day of life.[14] He was survived by his wife of 65 years, Adele Panofsky, their five children, 11 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.[11]

7. Publications

  • Classical Electricity and Magnetism by Wolfgang Panofsky and Melba Phillips (1955, 1962, 1983, 1990)

The content is sourced from: https://handwiki.org/wiki/Biography:Wolfgang_K._H._Panofsky

Further Reading
In this part, we encourage you to list the link of papers wrote by the character, or published reviews/articles about his/her academic contributions.


  1. Lüth, Vera G. (October 2013). "Wolfgang K.H. Panofsky: Scientist and Arms-Control Expert". Annual Review of Nuclear and Particle Science 63: 1–20. doi:10.1146/annurev-nucl-102711-095043.  https://dx.doi.org/10.1146%2Fannurev-nucl-102711-095043
  2. "A Brief Biography of Wolfgang K.H. Panofsky". SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. 22 September 2016. http://www2.slac.stanford.edu/panofsky_fellow/career.html. 
  3. https://catalog.princeton.edu/catalog/3779602
  4. https://thesis.library.caltech.edu/2639/
  5. "Director's Office - W.K.H. Panofsky, Director Emeritus". SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Menlo Park, CA. 2014. http://www-group.slac.stanford.edu/do/people/pief.html#personal. 
  6. Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky, Particles and Policy, American Institute of Physics, 1994. ISBN:1-56396-247-0
  7. "Archives and History Office: W. K. H. "Pief" Panofsky". https://www.slac.stanford.edu/history/bios/panofsky_pief.shtml. 
  8. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Board of Sponsors page (last accessed August 12, 2007). http://www.thebulletin.org/about-us/board-sponsors.html
  9. Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky, "Panofsky of Physics, Politics and Peace: Pief Remembers", Contributing Editor Jean Marie Deken, Springer, 2007. ISBN:978-0-387-69731-4
  10. "Hans A. Panofsky, 70, Scientist". New York Times. March 11, 1988. https://www.nytimes.com/1988/03/11/obituaries/hans-a-panofsky-70-scientist.html. 
  11. Sidney D. Drell and George H. Trilling, Wolfgang Kurt Hermann Panofsky A Biographical Memoir http://www.nasonline.org/publications/biographical-memoirs/memoir-pdfs/panofsky-wolfgang-k-h.pdf
  12. Current Techniques in Fossil Skeleton Mounting by Adele I. Panofsky, SLAC-TN-73-7, August 1973. https://www.slac.stanford.edu/pubs/slactns/tn01/slac-tn-73-007.pdf
  13. http://www.uu.se/en/about-uu/traditions/prizes/honorary-doctorates/
  14. Wolfgang Panofsky, Renowned Stanford Physicist and Arms Control Advocate, Dead at 88 September 25, 2007 http://home.slac.stanford.edu/pressreleases/2007/20070925.htm
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