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Archives & History Office

Hours: By appointment Monday-Friday during regular work hours.


  • E-mail: slacarc[@]
  • Phone: (650)926-3091
  • Post: SLAC Archives and History Office, M/S 97, 2575 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025.

Office Location: Bldg.50, Rm.370

Martin L. Perl, 1927- 2014

SLAC Professor (Emeritus), Noble Laureate in Physics

Martin Perl, Nobel Laureate in 
Physics, 1995 
(Peter Ginter 21)

Professional and Biographical Information

Biographical Essay from the 2004 SLAC Employee Service Awards Program, in celebration of Professor Perl's 40th anniversary at SLAC:

Martin's first contact with SLAC was as a participant in the 1962 Summer Study Program while be was on the faculty at the University of Michigan. He joined the faculty here in June, 1963, and later served as faculty Chair. He was the group leader of Group E for many years and more recently he has been Co-Group Leader with Rafe Schindler of Group E. The first experiments carried out by Group E were new-particle searches, including a search for fractionally charged particles. The group then studied Particle production by muon and electron beams. One purpose of the muon experiments was to try to understand the intrinsic difference between the muon and the electron, a difference still unknown. Martin and his group got involved quite early with the prospective physics program at the SPEAR storage ring and, by the turn on of SPEAR in 1972, were collaborating with Group C: and with groups from LBL in the initial use of the SLAC-LBL detector. Martin's main interest was to search for heavy, charged leptons, that is, leptons heavier than the muon and the electron. This led to the discovery by Martin and the SPEAR physicists of the tau lepton in the period 1974-1980. Martin and Group E were also involved in discoveries of the psi particles in 1974 and of charmed particles in 1976. For his discovery of the tau lepton, Martin was awarded the Wolf Prize in Physics in 1982 and the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1995. Since 1980, Martin has been involved in many areas of physics research including studies of the properties of the tau lepton. He is also a member of the BaBar collaboration. Within the last 10 years, he has led unique searches in bulk matter for elementary particles with fractional electric charge using a high technology version of the Millikan Oil Drop Experiment.

Events and Photos

  • The Discovery of the Tau Lepton: a Symposium in honor of Martin Perl’s 65th Birthday. SLAC, July 24, 1992 Published in The Third family and the physics of flavor: Proceedings of the 20th SLAC summer institute on particle physics (SSI 92), 13-24 Jul 1992
  • For a list of description of photos of Professor Perl (some with thumbnails) in the SLAC Archives and History Office collections, please go to our Historical Photos Index


  • The Discovery of the tau lepton and the changes in elementary particle physics in forty years. Martin L. Perl (SLAC & Stanford U., Phys. Dept.). Oct 2003. Published in Phys.Perspect.6:401-427, 2004
  • The Practice of experimental physics: Recollections, Reflections, and Interpretations. Martin L. Perl, Mary A. Meyer (SLAC). 2002. Published in Theor.Histor.Scient.6:206-239, 2002.
  • Discovery of the Tau: The Role of Motivation & Technology in Experimental Particle Physics. Martin L. Perl. Beam Line. Vol. 25 No. 4. Winter 1995: 4 -27.
  • For a more complete list of Professor Perl’s Publications, please see the entries in SPIRES HEP
  • For a list of SLAC newsletter articles about Martin Perl (some with links to full text), please go to our Popular Periodicals Index.


  • Developing creativity and innovation in engineering and science. Martin L. Perl. 12/3/2007. SLAC Colloquium presentation. [View video from SLAC]
  • Discovery of the Tau Lepton. Lecture presentation given at SLAC in October 2003 [VHS video available or View video from SLAC]
  • Standard and Unconventional Experiments in Lepton Physics. Lectures given at 25th SLAC Summer Institute on Particle Physics: Physics of Leptons (SSI 97), Stanford, California, 4-15 Aug 1997. [VHS Video Available]
  • Tau physics. Presented at 20th Annual SLAC Summer Institute on Particle Physics: The Third Family and the Physics of Flavor (SSI 92), Stanford, CA, 13-24 Jul 1992. [VHS video available]
  • The Discovery of the Tau and its Major Properties: 1970-1985. Talk presented at the Workshop on Tau Lepton Physics, Orsay, France, September 24-27, 1990

Archival Materials

Martin Perl papers held by the SLAC Archives and History Office are currently being processed, and are not yet open for research. SLAC staff may access descriptions of Martin Perl papers held by the Archives.

Martin Perl at SLAC Kid’s Day, 2007 (Diana Rogers 4087b) Martin Perl at Nobel press conference, 1995, by P.A. Moore (arc197) Martin Perl, 1990, by Tom Nakashima (B066-2)

Note: Some links on this page open pdf files, which require the free Acrobat Reader.

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Last Updated: 08/08/2014