Martin Perl, Nobelist and particle physics maverick, dies at 87

Martin Perl, a particle physicist at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California, who died 30 September, was something of a lone wolf when he set out to see if there was another particle akin to the electron and its heavier unstable cousin, the muon. Perl's hunch was right, and by 1977 he and his colleagues had discovered the particle, dubbed the tau lepton, in experiments using SLAC's famous linear accelerator. Perl even enlisted his children in the search, according to the SLAC announcement of his death: "His son Joseph Perl of Oakland, who is also a researcher at SLAC, recalls that when he was in middle school his father would bring home stacks of accordion-folded computer printouts and pay him and his siblings to carefully tear them apart along the perforations. If a sheet said 'e mu,' for electron and muon, they were to place it in a special stack; these were the signatures of the tau lepton."

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