BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Leon Lederman, an experimental physicist who won a Nobel Prize in physics for his work on subatomic particles and coined the phrase “God particle,” has died. He was 96.

(Credit: Fermilab)

Ellen Carr Lederman, his wife of 37 years, said her husband died Wednesday at a nursing home in the Idaho town of Rexburg.

Lederman directed the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago from 1978 to 1989. He’s described as a giant in his field who also had a passion for sharing science, resulting in his book, “The God Particle.”

The title refers to a subatomic particle long theorized until a powerful particle collider confirmed its existence.

The couple bought a vacation home in Driggs, Idaho, in 1991 with his 1988 Nobel Prize money and moved there full-time in 2011.

The Nobel Prize he won sold for $765,000 in 2015.

“Lederman had an enormous impact beyond his fundamental discoveries in physics. He was enormously effective changing how physicists regard the value of public outreach and education,” said Edward W. (Rocky) Kolb, a professor and former dean of the physical sciences at University of Chicago. “He was the most effective spokesperson for communicating the value and beauty of physics to the general public.  His passion for science and his commitment to public understanding and appreciation of science was contagious.”


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