Dr. Edward O. Salant, 78, a professor-emeritus of physics at Vanderbilt University and a former researcher at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, died Sept. 13 at his home in Remsenburg, N.Y., following a heart attack.

Dr. Salant was born in Washington. He earned a bachelor's degree at Columbia University in New York and a doctorate at the University in of London. He also was a Johnston Scholar at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

He taught and did research at New York University from 1929 to 1941. He then returned to Washington and worked on proximity fuses at the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins during World War II.

In 1944, he went to Britain and is credited with persuading the British to move their defenses against the notorious V-1 "buzz bomb" - a pilotless plane used as a flying bomb - from the London area to the English Channel.

The purpose of this move was to give British antiaircraft defenses a chance to destroy the V-1s before they reached the London area. One of eht defenses against these weapons was the proimity fuse. Such fuses would detonate an explosive in the area of a target, thereby destroying it without actually hitting it. It is said that proximity fuses helped bring down 101 of 103 V-1s from positions along the channel coast.

Dr. Salant received the Order of the British Empire of the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, N.Y. Heremained there until his retirement in 1966, when he joned the faculty of Vanderbilt University. He retired a second time in 1972 and was made a professor-emeritus. He moved to Remsenburg, Long Island, at that time and was a guest physicist at the Brookhaven Laboratory until his death.

Dr. Salant's survivors include his wife, Marjorie, of the home.