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Nobel Laureates To Honor I.I. Rabi at Columbia

Former students of famed Nobel physicist I.I. Rabi will help dedicate a memorial to him this Friday, Dec. 13, on the Columbia University campus - a room that was his office for almost 50 years. Among them will be scientists he inspired who became Nobel laureates in physics themselves, but one is a man touched by Dr. Rabi's intellectual imagination who became instead an influential designer - Edwin Schlossberg, who designed the new room.

The Rabi Memorial Room, attached to the Physics Library on the eighth floor of the Pupin Physics Laboratories, will open formally with a colloquium and dedication ceremonies. At least four Nobel laureates who studied to various extents with Dr. Rabi - Val L. Fitch, Leon Lederman, Norman Ramsey and Melvin Schwartz - are among more than 100 scholars, friends and former students, including Dr. Schlossberg, who will attend. In all, nine of Dr. Rabi's students went on to win the Nobel Prize.

"He was a very inspiring and incredibly erudite man," Dr. Schlossberg said this week, recalling two courses he took with Dr. Rabi when he was earning his undergraduate and doctoral degrees in English at Columbia in the late 1960's. "He was open to hearing about issues and ideas even though he did not always agree with them." The subject of Dr. Schlossberg's Ph.D. dissertation was an imaginary discussion involving Albert Einstein and Samuel Beckett.

The room is a combined reading room for students and an exhibition of photographs, historic apparatus and memorabilia of Dr. Rabi, one of the pre-eminent scientists of the century, who died at 89 in 1988. His desk and chair and many of the books he used are there.

For the Rabi Memorial Room, Dr. Schlossberg designed a set of five panels like open pages in a scientist's notebook, each depicting a stage in Dr. Rabi's life.

Dr. Rabi was associated with Columbia as a student and professor for 65 years, won the 1944 Nobel Prize in Physics for discoveries about the magnetic properties of atomic nuclei, played key roles in the development of radar during World War II and served as peacetime advisor to U.S. Presidents, the United Nations and NATO.

Friday's celebration will begin with a colloquium at 2:30 P.M. in lecture room 428 Pupin. Physics Department chairman Norman Christ will introduce Dr. Lederman, who will speak on "Plato's Academy: Science Education, K-100." Columbia Provost Jonathan R. Cole will give an appreciation, "Rabi and Columbia," and George Rupp, president of Columbia, will dedicate the Rabi Room at a 4 P.M. reception on the building's eighth floor. A concert will be given in Dr. Rabi's honor at Faculty House on campus at 5:15 P.M., followed by a dinner and reminiscences by many who knew, worked with and studied under him.