Remembering Arnold Perlmutter

The University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences and the Physics Department are mourning the loss of Arnold Perlmutter, 89, who passed away on December 12, 2017.

“Professor Arnold Perlmutter was one of the nicest human beings anyone could ever meet,” said George Alexandrakis, a physicist at UM and Perlmutter’s long-time friend and colleague. “His kindness and genuine concern for others was reflected in the manner he interacted with the thousands of students he taught over the years.”

Throughout his career as a physicist, Perlmutter visited and taught at many universities and research institutions around the world including UCLA, UC Berkeley, Boston University, University of Chicago, CERN, Argonne and Brookhaven National Laboratories, University of Trieste, London Imperial College, University of Torino, Istanbul University, Kiev University, University of Adelaide, and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

A physics professor at UM from 1956 until his retirement in 2002, Perlmutter was the Secretary for the Center for Theoretical Studies, which was established by colleague Behram Kursunoglu. During his time as Secretary, Perlmutter greatly contributed to the forum, which operated from 1965 to 1992 and provided a significant medium for studies in theoretical physics and related fields. The forum was also a collaborative enterprise among scientists, including many who went on to win Nobel Prizes.

In the late 1980s, Perlmutter and Kursunoglu again collaborated to launch an undergraduate course entitled, Nuclear War-Nuclear Peace. The course invited surviving figures who created nuclear weapons, as well as policymakers and peace negotiators, to the Coral Gables campus. During his time at UM, Perlmutter also collaborated with his colleague and the eminent experimental physicist Marietta Blau.

Perlmutter is survived by his wife of 37 years, Lynn Meyer; his two sons, Bernard and Joseph; three stepchildren, Evan Slavitt, Sarah Bryce, and Joshua Slavitt; and 12 grandchildren. His first wife, Ruth Perlmutter Kates, passed away in 2004. A service was held at UM on December 17, 2017. Donations are still welcome to the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center, the UM Physics Department or Gifford Arboretum, and the Women's Emergency Network.


Photo Caption: (L to R) Arnold Perlmutter with Lars Onsager, the 1968 Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry, and Julian Schwinger, the 1965 Nobel Prize Winner in Physics, in 1972 during a Center for Theoretical Studies meeting in the Ungar Building at the University of Miami.

December 20, 2017