David Morris Lee is an American physicist who, along with Robert C. Richardson and Douglas Osheroff, shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physics for “discovering superfluidity in helium-3.” Their discovery, which is primarily theoretical in nature, confirms a number of quantum theory predictions. Additionally, it plays a critical role in string theory. Lee grew up near the sea in New York, the descendents of Jewish immigrants from England and Lithuania. He spent much of his childhood exploring the coastline, collecting frogs, fish, salamanders, snakes, and worms. This is how he developed an interest in nature and science, which eventually led to his life’s calling. He also had a childhood fascination with railways and developed an interest in meteorology as a teenager. As a child, he intended to study biological sciences, but as he grew older, he became more interested in physics, which he chose as his major at Harvard University. He then completed his master’s degree and conducted research before accepting a position at Cornell University. He began the work that would eventually earn him the Nobel Prize in the 1970s. He conducted seminal research in low-temperature physics with Robert C. Richardson and Douglas Osheroff, which resulted in the discovery of superfluidity in helium-3.
Childhood & Adolescence
David Morris Lee was born on January 20, 1903, in Rye, New York, to Annette (Franks) and Marvin Lee, an electrical engineer. His parents were descended from English and Lithuanian Jewish immigrants.
He was raised on the coast and spent his youth collecting frogs, fish, salamanders, snakes, and worms. Along with his fascination with nature, he was also a railroad enthusiast, amassing an impressive collection of railroad timetables covering the entire United States of America.
He developed an interest in meteorology during his adolescence and began keeping his own weather records. He was profoundly influenced by Sir James Jeans’s book ‘The Mysterious Universe,’ which sparked his interest in physics. In high school, he excelled academically and was also an active participant in sports.
In 1948, he graduated from high school and enrolled at Harvard University, where he majored in physics. He served in the United States Army for 22 months following the completion of his bachelor’s degree in 1952.
Following his discharge from the army, he continued his studies and earned a master’s degree from the University of Connecticut. In the summer of 1955, he enrolled at Yale University in the Ph.D. program in physics. He collaborated with Professor Henry A. Fairbank in the group of low-temperature physics, primarily working with liquid 3He.
Career of David
He received his PhD in 1959 and accepted a teaching position at Cornell University’s Physics Department in Ithaca. He was promoted to assistant professor the following year and to associate professor in 1963. By 1968, he had attained the rank of full professor and was named professor emeritus in 2007.
At Cornell, Lee was tasked with the responsibility of establishing a low-temperature physics research laboratory and teaching courses in the physics department. During the 1960s, the new Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics flourished with the addition of scientists such as John D. Reppy and Robert C. Richardson. Additionally, he collaborated on research with Douglas D. Osheroff, a graduate student who later became a professor at Stanford University.
The group of scientists made significant contributions to the field of low-temperature physics. In the 1970s, Lee, Richardson, and Osheroff investigated the behavior of 3He at temperatures as low as a few thousandths of a degree above absolute zero using a Pomeranchuk cell.
Their initial research resulted in several significant discoveries, including phase transitions to a superfluid phase of 3He. Additionally, they discovered the tricritical point on the phase separation curve of liquid 3He-4He mixtures, antiferromagnetic ordering in solid helium-3, and nuclear spin waves in spin polarized atomic hydrogen gas.
The team’s discovery of superfluidity in helium-3 paved the way for subsequent research in this field, allowing scientists to study strange quantum mechanical effects directly in macroscopic (visible) systems that could previously be studied only indirectly in molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles.
Lee continues to be an active member of the scientific community, currently teaching physics at Texas A&M University. Additionally, in 2009, he relocated his laboratory from Cornell to Texas A&M University.
Significant Works of David
Lee is best known for his work in low-temperature physics, particularly for co-discovering superfluidity in helium-3 with Douglas D. Osheroff and Robert C. Richardson. He also conducted significant research on liquid, solid, and superfluid helium (4He, 3He and mixtures of the two).
Awards and Accomplishments
David Morris Lee, Douglas D. Osheroff, and Robert C. Richardson were awarded the British Institute of Physics’ Sir Francis Simon Memorial Prize in 1976 and the American Physical Society’s Oliver Buckley Prize in 1981 for their discovery of superfluid 3.
Lee, Osheroff, and Richardson shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physics for “discovering superfluidity in helium-3.”
Lee is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Personal History and Legacies
David Morris Lee met his future wife Dana shortly after arriving at Cornell. Dana was a Ph.D. student in nutrition and biochemistry at the time. The couple has been happily married for several decades and has two sons.
Estimated Net Worth
David Morris Lee’s estimated net worth is at least $1.41 million dollars as of 10 August 2021. Mr. Morris owns over 20,000 units of RBB Bancorp stock worth over $877,163 and has sold RBB stock worth over $0. in the last four years. Additionally, he earns $537,034 as RBB Bancorp’s Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of the Company and Bank.