Henry Way Kendall
Henry Kendall climbing in Yosemite Valley. Photo by Tom Frost.
Born(1926-12-09)December 9, 1926
DiedFebruary 15, 1999(1999-02-15) (aged 72)
Alma materAmherst College (BA)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (PhD)
AwardsNobel Prize in Physics (1990)
Scientific career
Stanford University
Doctoral advisorMartin Deutsch

Henry Way Kendall (December 9, 1926 – February 15, 1999)[1] was an American particle physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1990 jointly with Jerome Isaac Friedman and Richard E. Taylor "for their pioneering investigations concerning deep inelastic scattering of electrons on protons and bound neutrons, which have been of essential importance for the development of the quark model in particle physics."[2]


Kendall was born in Boston to Evelyn Way and Henry P. Kendall, an industrialist. Kendall grew up in Sharon, Massachusetts and attended Deerfield Academy.[3] He enrolled in the U. S. Merchant Marine Academy in 1945, and served on a troop transport on the North Atlantic in the winter of 1945 – 1946.

In 1946, he enrolled at Amherst College where he majored in mathematics, graduating in 1950. While at Amherst, he operated a diving and marine salvage company during two summers. He co-authored two books, one on shallow water diving and the other on underwater photography.

He did graduate research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, involving an experimental study of positronium, and he obtained his PhD in 1955. He then spent the next two years as a postdoctoral fellow at Brookhaven National Laboratory. He then spent five years in Robert Hofstadter's research group at Stanford University in the late 1950s and early 1960s, where he worked with Jerome Friedman and Richard Taylor, studying the structure of protons and neutrons, using the university's 300 feet long linear electron accelerator. He developed a close working relationship with Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky at Stanford.

Kendall joined the faculty of the MIT Physics Department in 1961, where he remained until his death in 1999. He was named Julius A. Stratton Professor of Physics in 1991.[4]

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Kendall worked in collaboration with researchers at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) including Friedman and Taylor. These experiments involved scattering high-energy beams of electrons from protons and deuterons and heavier nuclei. At lower energies, it had already been found that the electrons would only be scattered through low angles, consistent with the idea that the nucleons had no internal structure. However, the SLAC-MIT experiments showed that higher energy electrons could be scattered through much higher angles, with the loss of some energy. These deep inelastic scattering results provided the first experimental evidence that the protons and neutrons were made up of point-like particles, later identified to be the up and down quarks that had previously been proposed on theoretical grounds.[5] The experiments also provided the first evidence for the existence of gluons.

Kendall was not only a very accomplished physicist, but also a very skilled mountaineer and photographer. He did extensive rock climbing in Yosemite Valley, followed by expeditions to the Andes, Himalaya and Antarctica, photographing his experiences with large format cameras. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1982.[6] On April 7, 2012, the American Alpine Club inducted Kendall into its Hall of Mountaineering Excellence at an award ceremony in Golden, Colorado.[7]

Service activities

Kendall was one of the founding members of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) in 1969.[3] He served as chairman of the board of the UCS from 1974 until his death in 1999.[8] His public policy interests included avoiding nuclear war, the Strategic Defense Initiative, the B2 bomber, nuclear reactor safety and global warming.

He was also a member of the JASON Defense Advisory Group.[9]


Kendall died while diving the cave at the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, Florida as a part of the Wakulla 2 Project.[3][10] He bypassed two pre-dive checklists for his Cis-Lunar MK-5P Mixed Gas rebreather and entered the spring basin without his dive buddy from the National Geographic Society.[10][11] Kendall missed turning on the oxygen supply to his rebreather and lost consciousness and drowned.[10][11] The autopsy revealed a physiological issue that led to his disregarding the protocols.[10]

Awards and honors


  1. ^ Henry Way Kendall on Nobelprize.org Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ "Nobel prize citation". Nobelprize.org. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
  3. ^ a b c Sales, Robert J (1999-02-16). "MIT Nobelist Henry Kendall dies at 72 while scuba diving in Florida lake". MIT News Office. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
  4. ^ "Collection: Henry W. Kendall papers | MIT ArchivesSpace". archivesspace.mit.edu. Retrieved 2020-08-25.
  5. ^ Dye, Lee; Maugh II, Thomas H (1990-10-18). "Four U.S.-Based Scientists Share Nobel Prizes". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
  6. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter K" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  7. ^ Osius, Alison (April 11, 2012). "Beautiful minds: Blum, Reichardt, Kendall, Molenaar in Mountaineering Hall of Fame". Rock and Ice. Archived from the original on April 12, 2012. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
  8. ^ Oliver, Myrna (1999-02-17). "Henry Kendall; Nobel Prize-Winning Nuclear Scientist". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
  9. ^ Berkeley Scientists; Engineers for Social; Political Action (1972). "The Story of Jason – The Elite Group Of Academic Scientists Who, As Technical Consultants To The Pentagon, Have Developed The Latest Weapon Against Peoples' Liberation Struggles: "Automated Warfare"". Archived from the original on 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
  10. ^ a b c d Kakuk, Brian J (1999). "The Wakulla 2 Project: Cutting Edge Diving Technology for Science and Exploration". In: Hamilton RW, Pence DF, Kesling DE, Eds. Assessment and Feasibility of Technical Diving Operations for Scientific Exploration. American Academy of Underwater Sciences.
  11. ^ a b "Safety Lapse Suspected in Scientist's Diving Death". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. 1999-02-18. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
  12. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". www.achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.