Isidor Isaac Rabi was born in Raymanov, Austria in 1898. His family moved to the United States in 1899. In 1919, he obtained a bachelor's degree in chemistry at Cornell University. He began postgraduate studies in physics at Cornell in 1921, which he later continued at Columbia University. In 1927, he received his Ph.D. for work on the magnetic properties of crystals. Following this work, he spent two years in Europe, working with Sommerfeld, Bohr, Pauli, Stern, and Heisenberg. On his return in 1929, he was appointed lecturer in Theoretical Physics at Columbia University, and became professor in 1937.
In 1940, he took time off from Columbia to work as Associate Director of the Radiation Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the development of radar and the atomic bomb. He returned to Columbia in 1945 as executive officer of the Physics Department, and became involved with the Brookhaven National Laboratory for Atomic Research, an organization devoted to research into the peaceful uses of atomic energy.
His early work focused on the magnetic properties of crystals. In 1930, he began studying the magnetic properties of atomic nuclei, developing Stern's molecular beam method to great precision, as a tool for measuring these properties. By an ingenious application of the resonance principle he succeeded in detecting and measuring single states of rotation of atoms and molecules, and in determining the mechanical and magnetic moments of the nuclei.
Information as of 1942