Photo of CV

A love of physics was a trait radiologist W. Edward Chamberlain, passed on to his son, Owen. Born in San Francisco in 1920, Owen grew up in Philadelphia, graduating from Germantown Friends School in 1937, and gaining a degree in physics at Dartmouth College in 1941. He entered graduate school in physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and in 1942 he joined the Manhattan Project, helping in the construction of the atomic bomb.
In 1946 he resumed graduate work at the University of Chicago where professor Enrico Fermi encouraged him to leave theoretical physics for experimental physics. He gained his doctorate in 1949, having already accepted a teaching position at Berkeley (becoming professor of physics in 1958). At Berkeley he undertook extensive studies of proton-proton scattering, with Emilio Segrè and Clyde Wiegand, and an important series of experiments on polarization effects in proton scattering with Segrè, Wiegand, Thomas Ypsilantis, and Robert D. Tripp. In 1955, with Wiegand, Segrè, and Ypsilantis, he discovered the antiproton, a particle exactly like a proton except negatively charged.
It was for this discovery that he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for 1959 with Emilio Segrè.
He and his colleagues went on to use antiprotons to produce antineutrons. In 1960, together with Carson Jeffries and Gilbert Shapiro, he started the use of polarized proton targets to study a variety of high energy processes, including a test of time reversal symmetry in electron-proton scattering. In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s he experimented with energetic light nuclei at the Berkeley Bevalac accelerator before going on to work with David Nygren on the construction of the Time-Projection-Chamber at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center to study high-energy positron-electron interactions.
Chamberlain was a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1957, and served as Loeb Lecturer at Harvard University in 1959. Despite his work on the atom bomb, Chamberlain believed in peace and social justice, and spoke out against the Vietnam war. He was a member of Scientists for Sakharov, Orlov, and Shcharansky, three physicists of the Soviet Union imprisoned for their political beliefs. In the 1980s, he helped found the nuclear freeze movement.
In 1943 he married Beatrice Copper. They had three daughters and one son. Beatrice died in 1988, and Owen subsequently married June Greenfield, who died in 1991, and Senta Gaiser. Chamberlain retired from teaching in 1989.
He died on February 28, 2006, in Berkeley at the age of 85.
This text of the Nobel Laureate was taken from the book: "NOBELS. Nobel Laureates photographed by Peter Badge" (WILEY-VCH, 2008).