Valentine Telegdi was an outstandingly original experimental physicist who contributed greatly to our understanding of the weak and electromagnetic interactions of elementary particles. Outspoken and colourful in expression, Telegdi (usually called ‘Val’) had the reputation of being a ‘conscience of physics’, known for his incisive and sometimes acerbic wit. In this respect he was reminiscent of Wolfgang Pauli, one of his teachers, whom he greatly admired. However, Val could be warm and caring to friends, professional associates and students. After receiving his doctorate from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich in 1950, he began his academic career at the University of Chicago in 1951, and his reputation grew rapidly. In 1968 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. In 1972 the University of Chicago appointed him as the first Enrico Fermi Distinguished Service Professor of Physics.
This memoir originally appeared in Biographical Memoirs of the US National Academy of Sciences, and is reproduced with permission.
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