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Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky

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Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky
Born(1919-04-24)April 24, 1919
DiedSeptember 24, 2007(2007-09-24) (aged 88)
NationalityGermany, United States
Alma materCalifornia Institute of Technology
Known fordirector of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center
Spouse(s)Adele Irene DuMond (1924?-; m. 1942)
5 children: Richard Jacob, Margaret Anne, Edward Frank, Carol Eleanor, Steven Thomas[1]
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of California, Berkeley, Stanford
Doctoral advisorJesse DuMond[2]

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.

Early life

Panofsky was the son of renowned Jewish art historian Erwin Panofsky in Berlin, Germany. He spent much of his early life in Hamburg, where his father was a Professor of Art History. At the age of 15, he moved with his family to the United States and entered Princeton University.[3] He received his bachelor's degree from Princeton University in 1938 and earned his Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1942.[1] In April 1942 he was naturalized as a U.S. citizen.[4]

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. He was also on the Board of Directors of the Arms Control Association from 1996 until 1999 and remained a director emeritus until his death.[citation needed]

Panofsky was a member of the Board of Sponsors of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists[5] 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.[1]

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.[6] 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".[7] Their father, Erwin Panofsky, had been a "highly distinguished" professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey. In 1999, the new "Panofsky Lane", in that Institute's faculty housing complex, was named in Erwin Panofsky's honor.[8]



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.[10]


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


  1. ^ a b c d "Director's Office - W.K.H. Panofsky, Director Emeritus". SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Menlo Park, CA. 2014. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  2. ^ "A Measurement of the Value of Planck's Constant / Electron Charge by the Determination of the Short Wavelength Limit of the Continuous X-Ray Spectrum at 20-KV - INSPIRE-HEP". INSPIRE-HEP, the High Energy Physics information system. Retrieved February 18, 2015.
  3. ^ "A Brief Biography of Wolfgang K.H. Panofsky". SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. 22 September 2016. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  4. ^ Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky, Particles and Policy, American Institute of Physics, 1994. ISBN 1-56396-247-0
  5. ^ The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Board of Sponsors Archived 2007-08-24 at the Wayback Machine page (last accessed August 12, 2007).
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ "Hans A. Panofsky, 70, Scientist". New York Times. March 11, 1988. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  8. ^ "Streets at the Institute". Institute for Advanced Study. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  9. ^ http://www.uu.se/en/about-uu/traditions/prizes/honorary-doctorates/
  10. ^ Wolfgang Panofsky, Renowned Stanford Physicist and Arms Control Advocate, Dead at 88 September 25, 2007

See also

Preceded by
SLAC Director
1961 – 1984
Succeeded by
Burton Richter
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Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky
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