Martin Lewis Perl

American scientist

Martin Lewis Perl (born June 24, 1927, in New York – September 30, 2014) is an American physicist, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1995 for his discovery of the tau lepton.

Martin Lewis Perl


  • The experimenter dealing with nature faces an outside and often hard world. Natures' curriculum cannot be changed.
    • in his Nobel Autobiography, edited by Gösta Ekspong (1997). Nobel Lectures in Physics 1991-1995. World Scientific. p. 161. ISBN 9810226780. 

Nobel prize lecture

  • Experimental science is a craft and an art, and part of the art is knowing when to end a fruitless experiment. There is a danger of becoming obsessed with a fruitless experiment even if it goes nowhere.
  • It is always a good plan for a speculative experimenter to have two experiments going, or at least one going and one being built.

Essay on Creativity in Science and Engineering

  • Common elements of creativity are originality and imagination. Creativity is intertwined with the freedom to design, to invent and to dream. In engineering and science a creative idea is useful only if it meets three conditions: the constraint of the natural laws, the constraint of cost, and the constraint of technical feasibility.
  • Imagination and obsession are the keys to getting a good idea. To help your imagination keep your eyes and ears open. Avoid the "not invented here prejudice".
  • For every good idea, expect to have five, ten, twenty wrong or useless ideas. You cannot avoid the bad ideas if you keep your imagination free. There is no spam filter for bad ideas.
  • You may turn a bad idea into a good idea — don't kill the bad idea prematurely. A bad idea can evolve into a good idea.
  • I always look for colleagues who are smart, and who know a lot in many fields. The obvious advantage is that he or she may be able to solve the problem that has produced trouble in your work. Also smart and knowledgeable colleagues can save you time, and are interesting and inspiring!
  • The best colleagues are those who will think about your ideas, who will talk with you and offer insight, constructive criticism. No one needs to be crushed for having a new idea.
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