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Polykarp Kusch (January 26, 1911 – March 20, 1993) was a German-born American physicist. In 1955, the Nobel Committee gave a divided Nobel Prize for Physics, with one half to going to Kusch for his accurate determination that the magnetic moment of the electron was greater than its theoretical value, thus leading to reconsideration of—and innovations in—quantum electrodynamics. (The other 1955 physics laureate was Willis Eugene Lamb, who won for his work on the spectrum of hydrogen.)

Polykarp Kusch
Polykarp Kusch.jpg
Born(1911-01-26)January 26, 1911
Blankenburg, District of Blankenburg, Duchy of Brunswick, German Empire
DiedMarch 20, 1993(1993-03-20) (aged 82)
Dallas, Texas, United States
Alma materUniversity of Illinois, Case Western Reserve University
Known forMeasured the magnetic moment of the electron
AwardsNobel Prize in Physics (1955)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Texas at Dallas
Columbia University
ThesisThe molecular spectra of caesium and rubidium (1936)
Doctoral advisorFrancis Wheeler Loomis
Doctoral studentsEugene D. Commins
Other notable studentsGordon Gould

Kusch received his bachelor's degree in physics in 1931 from Case Western Reserve University. From the University of Illinois, he received his master's degree in 1933 and his Ph.D. in 1936.[1] He spent much of his career as a professor at Columbia University in New York City, and served as the university's provost for several years before departing for the newly created University of Texas at Dallas. He worked on molecular beam resonance studies under I. I. Rabi, then discovered the electron anomalous magnetic moment. Many measurements of magnetic moments and hyperfine structure followed. He expanded into chemical physics and continued to publish research on molecular beams. During his tenure at Columbia, he was the doctoral supervisor for Gordon Gould, the inventor of the laser.

Kusch House, a residential dormitory for undergraduate students at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio on the South Campus is named after Kusch. It is located on Carlton Road in Cleveland Heights. The University of Texas at Dallas has a Polykarp Kusch Auditorium with a plaque. His widow Betty died in 2003, aged 77.


  • Rabi, I. I.; Zacharias, J. R.; Millman, S.; Kusch, P. (1938). "A New Method of Measuring Nuclear Magnetic Moment". Physical Review. 53 (4): 318. Bibcode:1938PhRv...53..318R. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.53.318.
  • Rabi, I. I.; Millman, S.; Kusch, P.; Zacharias, J. R. (1939). "The Molecular Beam Resonance Method for Measuring Nuclear Magnetic Moments. The Magnetic Moments of 3Li6, 3Li7 and 9F19". Physical Review. 55 (6): 526–535. Bibcode:1939PhRv...55..526R. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.55.526.
  • Rabi, I. I.; Zacharias, J. R.; Millman, S.; Kusch, P. (1992). "Milestones in Magnetic Resonance: 'A new method of measuring nuclear magnetic moment'. 1938". Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging. 2 (2): 131–133. doi:10.1002/jmri.1880020203. PMID 1562763.
  • Kusch, P.; Foley, H. M. (1948). "The Magnetic Moment of the Electron". Physical Review. 74 (3): 250–263. Bibcode:1948PhRv...74..250R. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.74.250.

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