Burton Richter, the Paul Pigott professor in the physical sciences, emeritus, former director of the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize in physics, died July 18 in Palo Alto. He was 87.
Richter’s Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the J/psi subatomic particle, shared with MIT’s Samuel Ting, confirmed the existence of the charm quark. That discovery upended existing theories and forced a recalibration in theoretical physics that reverberated for years. It became known as the “November Revolution.” One Nobel committee member at the time described it as “the greatest discovery ever in the field of elementary particles.”