Isidor I. Rabi
(1898 - 1988)


Discoverer of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
in Molecular Beams

It was lack of economic opportunity in Eastern Europe's Austro-Hungarian Empire that brought Isidor I. Rabi to the United States in 1902 at the age of three. His father, unskilled for a specific trade and lacking formal education, was the first to come to America. Finding employment as a worker in one of Manhattan's garment district sweatshops, David Rabi was eventually able to arrange passage for his wife and son. With hard work and a loan from other Jewish immigrants, he was soon able to open a small grocery store. In time, the Rabi family was able to escape the tenements of the Lower East Side and find a degree of upward mobility in the "far reaches of Brooklyn." It was there, in a small public library, that young Isidor Isaac Rabi first discovered the Copernican view of the solar system, a cosmological perspective that launched him into a lifelong search for scientific understanding. That search eventually led him to the discovery of magnetic resonance in molecular beams and the 1944 Nobel Prize in physics.


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