Arthur Kerman, Professor of Physics Emeritus

Professor of Physics, Emeritus

In Memoriam: May 3, 1929 - May 11, 2017


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Area of Physics

Particle Cosmology

MIT Career Timeline

  • 1953: Ph.D.
  • 1956: Assistant Professor
  • 1960: Associate Professor
  • 1964: Professor of Physics
  • 1999-2017: Professor Emeritus

  • Other Positions

  • 1976-1983: Director, Center for Theoretical Physics
  • 1983-1992: Director, Laboratory for Nuclear Science

Research Interests

Kerman’s research included nuclear and high-energy physics, astrophysics, and the development of advanced particle detectors. His interests in theoretical nuclear physics included nuclear quantum chromodynamics-relativistic heavy-ion physics, nuclear reactions, and laser accelerators. He developed a set of nucleon-nucleon potentials, which were found to be useful for the study of nuclear matter and finite nuclei. 

Biographical Sketch

Professor Kerman, a native of Montreal and a graduate of McGill University, joined the MIT faculty in 1956 as an assistant professor of physics shortly after he received the PhD from MIT. He became an associate professor in 1960 and professor in 1964.

From 1976-83, Professor Kerman was director of the Center for Theoretical Physics. From 1983-92, he served as director of the Laboratory for Nuclear Science.

Professor Kerman was made a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the New York Academy of Sciences; he was named a Guggenheim Fellow in Natural Sciences. He was associate editor of Reviews of Modern Physics.

Selected Publications

Kerman published or co-published more than 100 papers. He wrote papers on the effects of the Coriolis interaction in rotational nuclei; quasi-spin; the application of the Hartree-Fock method to the calculation of the ground state properties of spherical and deformed nuclei; pairing correlations in nuclei; and the possible existence of transuranic islands of stability. In his research on reactions, his papers discussed the scattering of fast particles by nuclei. He also wrote papers on intermediate structure in nuclear reactions; on the properties of isobar analog states; and strangeness analog resonances. He was an early advocate of the importance of quarks for understanding nuclear physics. He developed a nucleon-nucleon potential with a soft core that fits nucleon-nucleon scattering data as well as potentials with a hard repulsive core do, which was found to be useful in the study of what is needed beyond scattering data to determine the properties of nuclear matter and finite nuclei.