NEW YORK (Oct. 17)
Dr. Arno Penzias, who as a child narrowly escaped the Nazi dragnet in his native Germany, was named co-winner today of the 1978 Nobel Prize for physics. Penzias, 47, is director of radio research at the Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, N. J., where he lives. He will share the award with Dr. Robert W. Wilson, a colleague at the Bell lab, and Prof. Piotr Kapita of the Soviet Union.
Penzias, the fourth Jew to receive a Nobel Prize so far this year, was born in Munich of parents who had immigrated to Germany from Poland. In 1938 his family was placed on a train with other Jews of Polish origin for deportation to Poland. The Polish authorities refused to admit them and the train was turned back at the border. In 1939, Penzias, then aged six and his brother Gunther, five, were sent to London for safety. They were joined by their parents in 1940 and managed to secure passage to the United States.
Penzias grew up in The Bronx where he attended public schools and later City College of New York. After serving in the U.S. Army signal corps he received a doctorate in physics from Columbia University and joined Bell in 1963. He and Wilson gained international attention for their collaboration which led to the discovery in 1965 of “background” radiation in the for reaches of space which supports the “Big Bang” theory of the creation of the universe.
Other 1978 Nobel Laureates who are Jewish are the Yiddish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer (literature); Dr. Daniel Nathans (medicine) and Prof. Herbert A. Simon (economics).