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February 12, 1914–July 25, 1983
BY S. P. ROSEN
HENRY PRIMAKOFF, THE FIRST Donner Professor of Physics at the University of Pennsylvania, was a theoretical physicist well known for his contributions to condensed matter physics and to high energy physics. His name is associated with spin waves in ferromagnetism, with the photo-production method for measuring the short lifetimes of neutral mesons, and with an underwater shock wave. He became a leading authority on weak interaction phenomena in nuclei, such as double beta decay, muon capture, and neutrino scattering. He was an outstanding teacher and had a unique influence upon all of his students.
Henry Primakoff was born in Odessa, Russia, on February 12, 1914, and died in Philadelphia on July 25, 1983. In life he had come a long way, from an early childhood in a city beset by war and revolution, through an arduous and often dangerous journey from Russia into Romania and across more than half of Europe, from Bremen to the lower Bronx, and ultimately to the City of Brotherly Love where a long battle with cancer awaited him. In sickness and in health, Henry bore himself with great courage and zest for life and his final years were filled with as much involvement in the