Francis E. Low


Francis Eugene Low (October 27, 1921 – February 16, 2007) was an American theoretical physicist.[2] He was an Institute Professor at MIT, and served as provost there from 1980 to 1985. He was a member of the influential JASON Defense Advisory Group.[3]

Francis E. Low
Born(1921-10-27)October 27, 1921
DiedFebruary 16, 2007(2007-02-16) (aged 85)
Alma materColumbia University
Known for
SpouseNatalie Sadigur (m. 1948)
Scientific career
FieldsTheoretical physics
InstitutionsMIT, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Doctoral advisorsHans Bethe
Aage Bohr[1]
Doctoral studentsLouise Dolan
Mitchell Feigenbaum
Alan Guth


Early careerEdit

During the Second World War, Low worked on the Manhattan Project. He was based at what is now the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, working on the mathematics of uranium enrichment. He later entered the United States Army and served in the 10th Mountain Division.

After the war, Low completed his studies at Columbia University, earning a Ph.D. in Physics in 1950. He then worked at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, before taking up a faculty position at the University of Illinois.

Career at MITEdit

Low joined the MIT physics faculty in 1957. There his Ph.D. students included Alan Guth, Mitchell Feigenbaum and Robert K. Logan.

He was a director of MIT's Center for Theoretical Physics and the Laboratory for Nuclear Science.

In 1969, Low helped found the Union of Concerned Scientists, and briefly served as its chairman. He stepped down after a disagreement with other members, who refused to consider studying whether nuclear reactors could be made safe and reliable.

In 1980, Low was appointed provost of MIT. During his five-year tenure, he was instrumental in bringing the Whitehead Institute to MIT, and expanded humanities education at the Institute.

Low retired from MIT in 1991, but continued to teach for another few years. His text Classical Field Theory: Electromagnetism and Gravitation was published in 1997 by John Wiley & Sons.

Personal lifeEdit

In 1948, Low married Natalie Sadigur. Low had a son Peter,[4] two daughters, Julie and Margaret, and six grandsons; he liked to joke that this was statistically improbable. He became a widower in 2003.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Low, F. (1950). "On the effects of internal nuclear motion on the hyperfine structure of deuterium". Physical Review. 77 (3): 361-370. Bibcode:1950PhRv...77..361L. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.77.361. The author wishes to thank Professor H.A. Bethe and Dr. A. Bohr, who gave generously of their time and interest, and whose help and criticism were indispensable.
  2. ^ "Francis Low, Array of Contemporary American Physicists". Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2014-08-12.
  3. ^ Aaserud, Finn (June 28, 1991). "Oral History Transcript — Dr. Steven Weinberg". American Institute of Physics.
  4. ^ "Peter Low Wed to Miss Kissin". NY Times. 24 April 1983.

External linksEdit

  • Francis E. Low at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  • "Physicist Francis E. Low, Former MIT Provost, Dies at 85". MIT News Office. 2007-02-20. Retrieved 2007-03-10.
  • Francis E Low Foundation
  • Francis E. Low Memorial Fund
  • Francis E. Low: Coming of Age as a Physicist in Postwar America by David Kaiser. MIT Physics Annual. 2001
  • National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir