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Interview of Norman Ramsey by Dan
Ford on 2004 December,Audio and video interviews about the life and work of Richard Garwin, 2004-2012Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics,College Park, MD USA,www.aip.org/history-programs/niels-bohr-library/oral-histories/40912-21
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In this interview Norman Ramsey discusses topics such as: Richard Garwin, magnetic moments, Edward Purcell, parity, John F. Kennedy assassination, Mark Weiss, Ernest Aschkenasy, Luis Alvarez, Nobel Prize, National Academy of Sciences, Paul Horowitz, acoustics.This interview is part of a collection of interviews on the life and work of Richard Garwin. To see all associated interviews, click here.
If you're doing this recording, I warn you of the following. I have two very different ways of speaking, it turns out. One is when I'm speaking in conversation and particularly when I'm trying to think about what it's about, it would be in the case of an interview, in which case I concentrate very hard on the substance and the grammar is atrocious and the sentence structure is atrocious. Or I can also produce papers and reports or letters by dictation which come out fine. But they're absolutely dull to listen to and I probably don’t do as much thinking. So I was thinking I would prefer to give the former, but before you spread it around too much, check with me to give me a chance to rewrite the language, or you rewrite the language.
Yeah sure, I mean the only person that I know who spoke in complete sentences more or less all the time was Henry Kendall.
Yeah, I think you're right, he did.
And he had some way when someone asked him a question, he would pause for three seconds or whatever it was and he would adjust his answer to the level of comprehension of the person he was dealing with it.
That’s right. That’s the way I do it… in front of a secretary or in front of a recording machine only, that’s exactly… I do that same thing. Without hesitation I have pauses, I don’t say uh and er. If I'm in conversation, I get excited about what I'm talking about, I tend to string one sentence after another. Well I mean, it's usually clear to the listener where the end of the sentence is, but not from the transcript. And so that either you should feel free to edit very freely on structure so I don’t sound too ridiculous if you're quoting me, or ask me. I mean, in fact I wouldn’t be… or alternatively, I can also close my eyes and think you are a secretary and have long pauses, it takes me longer than other people.
That’s no problem. So just to… I don’t know where you would like to begin but…
Well I suppose I usually tend to think in historical order, even though that means I'd begin a little bit vague because I… See, he was at Columbia what years?
I think he arrived at Columbia in '52. He was working at the IBM Watson Lab. I think it was around the corner from —
Yeah, it was around the corner. Was he at Columbia at all or is it before that time?
Not before, no. No, I think he came in '52.
He came in '52, now I left Columbia to come here in '47, so we didn’t have any overlap at Columbia. And I was very interested in… it was a parity experiment I guess that he was doing. And I was very interested in it since I had written five years, six years earlier, I wrote the first paper involving parity, an experiment… a paper that Purcell and I wrote jointly pointing out that parity had to be checked. I mean it was not… everybody to theorists at that time, it was obvious that it was… parity symmetry applied, it had to be… any little nucleus, it must be parity symmetric.
And actually… well I didn’t give the history on that one. I was giving a course. My first, second year at Harvard, somewhere around 1948, '49, and I gave a course on measurement of nuclear magnetic moments… of nuclear moments generally. And Purcell who by then was a newly appointed professor here, I was just a… he was… He was appointed one year, something like that, before I was.
And he sat in on the course because his feel of magnetic moments was very much better in NMR, whereas I had been involved in a predecessor to that at Columbia, working with Rabi on magnetic resonance. And nuclear magnetic resonance is also… we also called it… also could be called NMR, but there was a tendency when there were nuclear magnetic resonance which we did mostly in beams of atoms, in individual atoms, whereas the magnetic resonance was done mostly with condensed matter.
And for some purposes, one was better. For other purposes, the other was better. And anyway, he was the co-inventor and probably a principal co-inventor of NMR. So he was sitting in on my course on nuclear moments and it was fascinating having him there because I already learned that if I, in my course, sort of said anything that I didn’t fully understand, I could count on Purcell asking a very astute question which would sort of… apparent not only to me and to Purcell, but to the whole class that I really didn’t quite know about what I was talking about on that one.
Well so he was good because they kept me on my toes. It was also fun because we had great discussions before and after the sessions, he asked very good questions. But I had visions, I was about to give the discussion of… we were measuring nuclear magnetic moments. And we were not at that time bothering to look for nuclear electric dipole moments. And I knew the argument very well and heard it. It was a parity argument basically, that if there is a nuclear magnetic moment, the nucleus is spinning, the molenum[??] determines its orientation, that doesn’t say what is up and what is down.
And it's convention that tells you which way it is. If you grab hold of the spinning object with your fingers in the direction it's rotating, then your thumb is in the direction of the vector that you call the… that you would make the magnetic moment. It's the magnetic moment, so that’s fine with magnetic moments because circulating charges gives rise to magnetic fields and they are perpendicular to the axis of the rotation. And then the proof that… the normal proof was that for… that you didn’t have to look for electric dipole moments of nuclei was parity, namely to have an electric dipole moment you had to have something along the vector of its angular momentum.
And well if you didn’t know your left hand from your right and it's circulating this way, you would say one case is up and one case is down. And that means it's parity symmetric and therefore there's no point of looking for an electric dipole moment. Well I was about to give this… about a week or two earlier I was thinking about my lecture a little in advance, and was going to give that proof, and then I had visions of myself of giving the proof and then Purcell saying how… why didn’t you… what about there being… how do you know that… there was good evidence for electro magnetism that was parity symmetric, but how do you know for nuclear forces. It wasn’t so well.
I worried… I looked up everything I could and I couldn't find any evidence particularly for parity assumption at all for nuclear forces. And so along the basis it went about to be attack — counter attack, I buttonholed Purcell a day or two before my lecture and said look, I'm not about to give this thing, I know the proof full well, you just grab your figure etc. and you can't do this with an electric dipole moment. But, said I, that depends upon the assumption of parity. What is the evidence for parity in the case of nuclear? He said oh, there must be lots of evidence for that.
But then he couldn't find any either, so we wrote up a paper pointing out this was… well this was probably seven or eight years before Garwin's paper, pointing out that there was no particular… we couldn't find any for nuclear forces, could find no basis for assuming parity symmetry and they were going to do an experiment on it, which was to look for neutron electric dipole moments. Well it was rigid to look for any kind of electric dipole moment for any kind of thing. It turned out the most efficient one to look at was a neutron electric dipole moment because the neutron had no charge.
You had to put on the [keen??] electric dipole moment, that’s one of the reasons there wasn’t much evidence. You see how I interrupt myself. There wasn’t much evidence for an electric dipole moment was, to see it you have to put on an electric field and see how the nucleus precesses around that. However, if it's a charged nucleus, you put on an electric field, it accelerates out of your apparatus, so you really couldn't do very much electric fielding. But with a neutron which has no charge, electrical charge, you can do this. So we set up and did an experiment on a neutron… We published our theoretical sort of paper and then we did the experiment and our graduate student was so disappointed that he didn’t find anything that we had a terrible time getting him to write up the paper, but eventually he did.
And then when Lee and Yang about… oh five or six years later, I think one was '57, and one was '51 or 2, something like that… gave a colloquium at MIT in which he had some reason to doubt there might be a parity violation in the weak forces. Now at the time Purcell and I wrote our papers, there were three kinds of forces people talked about. There were nuclear forces, gravitational forces and electromagnetic forces and those were the three. Now you always talk about four. You have the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force, but that distinction wasn’t made much at that time, at least not that we had heard about.
And Yang, at this lecture at MIT, suggested that it might be in the… there might be a parity violation in the weak forces. And during the lecture, I mean or… there was a question period. I mean, I said what about… can’t we do the experiment with …. The only thing that had ever been polarized was cobalt-60, and see if there is an electric… then see… not an electric dipole, in that case with the weak force, it would be radioactivity, if more electrons didn’t come out in one direction, that would be pretty experimental. I've got a lot of correspondence with him, he remembers cobalt, or he has copies of it in which I proposed doing this experiment.
Who were you corresponding with?
With Lee… no, with Yang. Yang. It was Yang who did the lecture, not Lee, they were collaborators. It was Yang. Frank Yang, who's at Stony Brook, a very good friend of mine. And he… so that as soon as he mentioned that, this was before the experiment that it was involved in, I was immediately interested in doing… I called up the only person who had ever polarized cobalt or anything, a fellow by the name of Roberts, I think, at Oak Ridge, and he agreed to do it. So we set up to do the experiment but then we had a bout of bad luck in the following form.
Roberts made another discovery, an important discovery but sort of minor importance. It was that when there's nuclear fission, the heavy particles come out on opposite directions. And the question was do the neutrons come out parallel the direction, the other is perpendicular. I don’t know now, I can't remember now which way it was but whatever it had been thought to do, Roberts found it was the opposite.
So the theoretical advisors who permitted us to do our electric dipole moment experiment ever[??] which didn’t find an electric dipole, told Roberts well he should… now he has a real discovery, he should concentrate on that, postpone our proposed experiment for a year or two and still do it, but no rush about it. Well then Lee and Yang actually… Madame Wu actually did the experiment first, also in cobalt because it's the only substance available for it. I thought we had tied up the only person who had touched cobalt, but it turned out that missed[??].
That’s a very interesting bit of the history because I mean, there are already so many people who were scrambling around to do something.
We had five years or so where we had the field to ourselves. And unfortunately, in fact we had a double bit of unfortune as it turns out in history. Unfortunately it occurred only in the weak force, not in the strong force. And then people said well… theorists said well if it's so very small on the small force, there must not be any in the strong force, and that was the view. And then theorists worried a little more about it and you’ve got to explain why it isn't in the… and that’s still a puzzle in fact, that one of the important experiment results of our… still… we still are doing this, but lowering the limit more and more, is what's known as the strong force anomaly, namely why isn't there an electric dipole.
We should have seen an electric dipole moment in our very first experiment, but there must be some reason… required an extra… And in fact, the… Quinn and… Peccei–Quinn gave an explanation and said you really… and first pointed out this was… you had to explain it. And we could do this but to do this you had… would have to have an extra particle and… which is called the axion. Well nobody's yet found the axion either. So it's remained one of the key fundamental… perhaps the… one of the very principal problems, worst problems that the standard model has to affect, that… why you don’t get an electric dipole moment. Well we're still working on it and other people now are also beginning to work on it.
But in any case, now… bring back to … Lee and Yang's paper. They give reference… in fact, they give reference correctly to the Purcell and my papers about pointing out how poor the evidence was for parity assumption. However, they knew of our experimental result, and not finding it, and they described that… it had been not yet published in the major journals, in my books it occurred in a PhD thesis of a student which is available. But they referred to that information, so our paper questioning parity is almost never read because it's taken in fact as evidence that parity is conserved in the case of the strong forces.
And so we never got much credit on that one. I was a little disappointed. Well, getting away from Garwin, but it is an interesting bit of history. Then Garwin… then I guess Madame Wu and her associates found a parity violation and pretty much at the same time they were looking for this… oh dear, I'm terrible with people's names. The principal one at Columbia, but —
Leon Lederman, but I think the principal one still different, I believe. An Italian. I think that was Lederman's earliest key experiment. And I think… no, it was he and Garwin, you're quite correct, it was —
He and Garwin and there was a graduate student named like Marcel Weinrich.
Weinrich, yes. But I think there was a fourth one. I may be wrong. I think there was a fourth coauthor on that.
Oh no, there are only three.
There are only three.
Well let's see… Okay, yeah. Because that was published after Madame Wu's experiment. [Both published 02/15/1957.]
And yeah, I think that is… I still have a feeling… either another experiment… it was done at Columbia, and they had the… lead person, he’s a good friend of mine, I just can’t think of his… he's at CERN he's been at CERN for many years.
You mean Telegdi?
No, not Telegdi. Telegdi did some early things on that too, that’s right.
He did some —
Uh no —
But he and Jerry Friedman did some experiments.
Yeah, that’s right. But no… this fellow went to CERN. I know him very well. And he I thought was Lederman's thesis advisor. It may have been Garwin. Who did… do you know who Garwin got his PhD…?
That was with Fermi. Okay.
In Chicago. Okay yeah, that’s correct. But alright… then that was I think after other early experimental… but…
I'm not a physicist, I'm just trying to get into this.
I guess one of the things I would like to understand is, I mean from a layperson's point of view, what is the importance of the parity question.
Oh the importance of the parity was extreme. I mean, it was… you could argue it was the biggest discovery in at least the last half of the century… the twentieth century, because people assumed it was there and it gave various kinds of problems, but it also discouraged them from looking for things. And once that was discovered… well it did two things. It also opened up… people would search for a lot of the things [??] they thought were obvious and weren't. And it… but it made possible a whole bunch of… explanation of how the radioactivities behave and so on, which didn’t make sense before.
So that was an extremely important thing, and it was also led to the recognition you’ve got to watch your assumptions, that nature isn't necessarily purely symmetrical. And in fact one of the key things subsequently was time reversal symmetry, that’s another symmetry that in the case of the neutron electric dipole moment, there were two symmetries that were … said we shouldn't get one, if there are two, one was parity and the other is time reversal symmetry. Not that you reverse time, but if you did, there are the fundamental laws, what would they do if you reversed time and…
Now that… the electric dipole moment and the electric dipole moment would have violated both of these rules. But one of them was enough to make you think it shouldn’t be there. Well then when the parity went out, then I… then Lee and Yang and a bunch of other theorists —
[Change of tapes]
And that was the paper on time reversal, so we again pointed out… oh, the theorists then said aha, you still won’t see an electric dipole moment because it’s time reversal symmetry. And I wrote another paper saying, look this is… so more or less, this is where I came in. I mean, you really have to have evidence for it, well it turns out our experiment… it turns out that it… a very much more sensitive experiment. A different form by… for which he got Nobel Prizes… he's at Princeton. On the figure of time reversal symmetry, it does show up in sort of unique [???] where's there's very great degeneracy between the states so it’s very hard to see, but it's clearly a failure of that symmetry.
So both of these are wrong and both of which… I wrote the first paper saying they should be questioned, but neither of them do I get much credit for because our… we didn’t… I think if I'd been a theorist, I would have gotten a lot of credit for the idea, but I was an experimentalist and went on and published the idea, but then tried to do the experiment… well I did the experiment but didn’t find anything.
Well look, this is not to be about me, it's about Dick Garwin, but it is an important relationship to his experiment, but that was an important… you're right, that was done… I know it was with Leon and I just would have guessed that the other man… I can’t think of his name…
The other fellow was Weinrich, he was…
Weinrich was there, that’s right.
He was a graduate student and apparently he had set up the apparatus at Nevis to do something different…
And Garwin and Lederman arrived on a Friday night and said move aside.
Okay. That’s good.
And let’s take the gear that you’ve set up, disassemble it, and you can imagine the look on the guy's face as his PhD thesis is….
Yeah, that’s right. Well he did fine being on this one.
Yes, it worked out fine. But it's a bit of a shock.
Well in any case, so that… yeah, I was familiar of course, particularly being interested in parity problems. I was interested in that from the beginning. And I guess that’s where I first got to know him, talk to him some. But I was here and he was at Columbia. It was expensive traveling between the two, so I didn’t see lots of him, I saw him at meetings and was interested… And then he began doing a number of very interesting things, sometimes rather offbeat things. I think maybe this again will not be the… you know, it's hard to remember correctly what other people do… remember what you do yourself, but [it's a little hard??].
I think he did a number of rather… I guess he went pretty quickly to IBM and had the freedom to sort of do interesting things. I think isn't he the one that first explained when the supersonic jets for travel came out. There was a peculiarity that people kept… in the Midwest, getting shocked… half an hour… a sonic boom, sonic boom, half an hour or something… some time after the plane had already landed in Washington. And it turned out that yes… that he pointed out yes, it takes that time for it to travel, the plane was traveling faster. And it was picked up… You would have to check what its original paper said or what Dick tells you.
But it was an interesting offbeat bright thing which you… He had a couple of others in that direction, I can’t remember what they were, but very different approaches. And that sort of got interesting. And I was familiar with it. I didn’t do any work with him until 1981 or '82 when we were on the National Academy of Sciences, when I was chairman of that committee. But he was already… I also did most of the picking of the members of the committee. And he, by that time, for a number of things which I'll only remember this one, now maybe there are dozen others, I think there were a dozen others.
A sort of ingenious ideas which crystallized things and also being very… he was also rather critical of incorrect experiments. And that’s what we wanted… and there was to be [???]. I guess I should tell you now about the academy. I'll jump back to that. We sort of got a little on the other… but right now what… on the case of the work that Dick and I… the first work that Dick and I did together was to… At the time of the Kennedy assassination, John Kennedy assassination, a motorcycle… police motorcycle had its microphone stuck open. And it broadcast throughout that time on so-called Channel One.
It turned out that Dallas… it turned out … and I didn’t even know that the police, or at the least the Dallas Police keep permanent records of all their police communications. And they did this with a Dictabelt on channel one. And they… I've forgotten the name, but I can look it up on channel… Gray Audograph.
I remember when we were kids, my father was a fireman in Boston. And when… at some points they were throwing out older radio sets. So he brought one home and we could listen to the fire channels, the frequencies, the police.
Oh that’s fun, yeah.
It was great entertainment just to have that in the kitchen.
Right. Well they keep recordings of this. And this was known to the Warren Commission and they listened and decided they couldn't [find to do??]. The interesting thing would be if there was… if it was stuck open for five minutes. Was there anything there that corresponded to shots? Well, the Warren Commission listened, and I don’t… I was listened too, all too many hours on those five minutes. And they could find… they decided they couldn't see anything on that, but they sort of kept it among the evidence but they didn’t do anything with it.
Well then in 1981 or '82, after the… well after both the Bobby Kennedy and the Martin Luther King assassination, the House of Representatives appointed a Select Committee on Assassinations. They looked at only two, they didn’t look at the Bobby Kennedy one at all, but they looked at the John Kennedy assassination and the Martin Luther King one, to see if there was evidence for a conspiracy. To my surprise, that Committee concluded there was no conspiracy… they had no clear evidence for conspiracy in the case of the Martin Luther King. I think I[??] always had a suspicion there… there was some evidence of it. But nevertheless, I didn’t study that one so I don’t know.
And on the John Kennedy one, they initially concluded they also had no evidence for that, for being a conspiracy other than the normal Lee Harvey Oswald theory. But they did a few million dollars worth of study. I mean, they had a bunch of subcontracts out on investigating photographic claims that maybe a view of a man with a gun in various places and whatnot. The basis of all of those, they concluded nothing, but they also decided they would commission a very good acoustics outfit, Bolt, Beranek, and Newman [???], very good friend of…known Dick Bolt since we both got our PhDs and we taught together at the University of Illinois at one time. And Beranek I later got know … he and my wife were on a board of [music??] in Cambridge.
But in any case, they appointed Bolt, Beranek and Newman to do this and Bolt, Beranek and Newman appointed a committee chaired by, I think it was a man by the name of Barger, that was their director of research at the time. And they essentially … see if they could find any evidence for it and they did some very sensible things. They arranged to close off Daley Plaza and have … police marksmen fire from every place that there was suspected there could have been another shot. And they had microphones set up every thirty feet along the way that the motorcade went to see if they couldn't pick up any pattern that looked a little… you know, that had some consistency that could correspond tos building reflections and echoes and things of that kind.
And they looked at all four of the presumed shots and they concluded there was a fifty percent probability that there was a second assassin, that one of the acoustic regions could correspond to a shot fired from the grassy knoll.
They concluded on the basis of these —
Well basically on the audio tapes, fifty percent probability. Now the House of Representatives, the committee… said that’s not very good, fifty percent yes, fifty percent no. And in fact, they made an error and in fact fifty percent came out because they put it in, they said there's one place that we don’t know which way it is, we’ll assume it's fifty percent, it turned out, … ground out … through their analysis, to be equivalent, [that] it was an error in it. But they did —
What would their probability estimate have been if they didn’t put in the fifty percent?
I think it would have been whatever they put in.
Oh I see, it was just —
They got repeated out.
I get it.
It was just a somewhat complicated calculation and what emerges is what you put in in one place. And but they also… but then the house committee said can’t you increase the probability of this, and they said well… and they made a… Bolt, Beranek, and Newman made a subcontract with two people at something like Brooklyn college in… over in acoustics to see if they couldn't increase the odds. And which you could by the following, basically these microphones were every thirty feet, well that gives you a pretty wide sweep of things and that diminishes, during which it could be random. And so they then… theoretically, Weiss & Aschkenasy analyzed the building plans there, what might be echoes and to see if their assumed pattern of echoes, if they couldn't correspond to these being more frequently placed, sort of theoretical microphones.
And they indeed managed to get that correlated and concluded on the basis of that, there was a ninety-five percent chance. And they only looked at one shot, they didn’t the whole array of four shots, the Weiss and Aschkenasy only looked at the one that by the Bolt, Beranek, and Newman part could have been a fifty… had a probability… a fifty percent probability of being true. And with their analysis, with this echo reflection, they could raise the ante. They raised it to ninety-five percent probability which is of course a very high one. And this was pretty much the last minute, the House Select committee was [stopped??] so they modified their conclusion to be a ninety-five percent probability of a second marksman from grassy knoll which would automatically correspond to a conspiracy. And that was what their published… the Bolt, Beranek, and Newman… published part of the House Select Committee. Then the Department of Justice —
Just, from my understandings, you said the fifty percent was an error.
Well it was an error in the way that it was done, yes.
But when… on the second go around —
That error was not made.
It was not made, okay.
That error was not made.
It did not start at fifty percent.
And then get bumped up —
No, no. Well, this was… but it only looked at one shot, not… the other… the Weiss and Aschkenasy. And I also point out there's nothing… that’s one of the… if you listen to the recording, I can even play it for you if I had the, you know, afraid it’s at home the thing I can play it with. There's nothing that sounds like a shot at all. It's just noise, there's a lot of noise. And it's when you try to correlate this noise pattern which what might be reflections from buildings that you get this, theoretically calculated but it's a rather… it's a somewhat treacherous calculation, one of those things… When you don’t know what a pattern is supposed to look like and it could be any of a number of things, you're just hunting for something to correlate, this is a very… required caution.
In any case, but then Bolt, Beranek, and Newman also participated with Weiss and Aschkenasy in their statistical analysis. And so it's sort of a joint report to that extent, Bolt, Beranek, and Newman and Weiss and Aschkenasy, of a ninety-five percent probability, that there was a second… which is of course the complete reversal of the [odd??]. Well, then the FBI looked into it and concluded this was not valid, and so that’s part of the Department of Justice. So here you had a case, two branches of the government, and were still two major branches. One was legislative and one was… it was executive having opposite conclusions. Usually when that happens on a scientific matter, they ask the National of Academy of Sciences to make a recommendation.
Which you usually make a recommendation by saying well it was a good study and this was wrong, or the statistics was wrong. Very rarely does it come out with a very decisive answer, it would like to, but it usually can’t do that. Well, I was asked to be chairman of this committee and it was probably the principal one to help select the people on it. And basically what we wanted to select were people who were good critics of both their own and other people's experiment who were actually pretty careful and not making their own mistakes. And also in finding out other people's mistakes.
One for example was Luis Alvarez… who was sort of notably critical of other experiments, some people are notably critical of some of his experiments, but nevertheless he's a very good critic. And as well as a very original person. In fact, he did one I consider one of the really neat things, long after (even though he's part of those committee people past their prime) five years or six years after our committee met, he and his son… Luis Alvarez bringing the [???], made one of the greatest discoveries in another field, namely the demise of the dinosaurs and the fact that there was… what basically… his son is a geologist, knew there was a thin layer of clay throughout the surface of the world, more or less, about a centimeter thick.
And he thought to investigate the sources of this by studying the mineral content of it. And it turns out that the mineral content of the surface of the Earth is very different from the mineral content of the rest of the universe. And so the following reason the Earth was initially molten and the heavy metals fell to the core and the surface of the Earth are much more light metals. Whereas if you… objects that come from broken planets or something like that, are often… usually have a much more heavy metal, and deep —
The difference between the chemical composition of —
The chemical composition… yeah, there's a difference between meteorite composition and the others. There's also a difference in very deep volcanoes some time, there can be somewhat of that difference in the Earth because it's further down and… different time. And… but in any case, they looked at that and there was a big difference and… which they hypothesized was due to an asteroid striking the Earth. And then they went on further to feel out of their own saying that this occurred about 60 million years ago. And they also noted… it was known, I think, even before they did that, that this peculiar layer had the peculiarity that there were lots of fossils below it and very few above it, particularly for the dinosaurs. It may have been [???] a few, yes, were above it but they get tipped over later.
In any case, so they put forward the hypothesis in a field far different from their own, namely paleontology, that’s actually what did in the dinosaurs was not that they were just too big and complicated, … they weren't adept in [???]. But that they were… that in fact, they were the highest level of civilization at that period. And hence least well able to adopt to the severe weather changes that resulted from this collision. I mean, there was sort of a nuclear winter as it were. And well, that really annoyed the paleontologists for whom a fundamental… their basic theory had always been gradualism, that all of these… you shift from one thing to another… here is accusation… it was a proposal by some non paleontologists, that it was abrupt and there was quite a lot of feuding on that. But it later turned out that the Alvarezes were absolutely right, that [found out??] in several directions. I mean —
The theory is still held up today?
The theory… now they same paleontologists have shifted to the opposite extreme, namely the major changes were abrupt rather than… about every sixty million years or so, they’ve gone back and found different abrupt changes. So they eventually… I think there are probably still a few couple paleontologists that still out of the old theory, but I'd say ninety percent of them reluctantly agreed to this. And then also the location of the… where the asteroid hit has now been located.
It's in the Gulf of Mexico.
In the Gulf of Mexico, yeah. But in any case, I only mentioned that because it shows… our committee wasn’t completely a bunch of has-beens. … Dick Garwin was one of the ones on it and Bob Dicke at Princeton who deserved a Nobel Prize and didn’t get it because… but following… the Nobel Prize for probably one of the most important discoveries of the century, namely the cosmic ray [microwave] background. And this was for which two people from Bell Labs got the Nobel Prize, they’ve been looking at the —
Penzias and Wilson.
Penzias and Wilson. And they were trying to get better communications and they had a noise they couldn't find and they were puzzled by this noise. And independently of that, at about the same time, Bob Dicke… and partly based on some theory of George Gamow, that there could be a background radiation from the earlier first big bang. And he set out to look for it at Princeton, on the roof of the building. Well he was looking, not yet ready to look for the noise and unaware of Penzias and Wilson. And Penzias and Wilson had the experimental noise and did not… And then they… Penzias and Wilson were asking various [???], why could this… how do you do this?
And one of the professors at MIT whose name slips me at the moment, he's a good friend but his name is slipping me. I can find it out. Suggested that Dicke was looking for something or other. And so he went in to talk to him and Dicke indeed correctly explained what they got. In some respects, it's a little bit… From Dicke's point of view, he would have gotten the Nobel Prize if he just kept his mouth shut and done his experiment and didn’t announce it. But he did, and I think it's too bad they didn’t give… also give it to Dicke.
And I also know the reason, probably, because there were other people that had theoretically made some predictions and George Gamow often… and some of his associates. But in any case, he did… well he was on it. But he was also… he some of the best instrumentalists and best… careful experimenter.
I mean, Garwin has never won…
Garwin has never won a Nobel Prize, no.
Does he deserve one too?
Well that's a hard one to say. First place, he could perfectly well have been one of the ones who got the… I think… no, let's see Leon, they did not get a Nobel Prize and… no, he probably would not have gotten for this because earlier work was done by Wu and her associates.
Well Wu and Lederman and Garwin didn’t get it…
Yeah, they could have been… it could have been Wu, Lederman, and Garwin. I think it was actually Wu and the person that worked with Wu on her experiment and it's what they gave… I think the Nobel Prize, there's always… it requires lots of luck, in two ways. First place, any experiment that’s really revolutionary, it has big effects, is usually to a fair degree, luck. I mean, if it had been obvious… why… you didn’t need to do the experiment. And secondly, then there's a lot of luck[??]… the Nobel committee has this restriction that only three prize-recipients, and that means you… people are cut out, they don’t get it. And then… There's more extreme cases, this is in my own field, where the… atomic physics, where one of the biggest revolutions was invented by four people, this is laser cooling, one of which was a former graduate student of mine, later working with Hans Dehmelt, and another of which was Townes and Schalow.
And in any case, they invented the idea of laser cooling … I’m not sure [???], it was Schalow in any case was one. And… no Schalow and a man at… in Munich, a very good physicist, and they invented laser cooling. And a Nobel Prize did go to laser cooling, but they didn’t get it, any of them, although they were quite clearly, I think… it's my opinion the inventors of it… But there was a problem, in the first place there were four of them and to make matters worse, two of them went on each of the teams. One invented laser cooling for ions, and the other for atoms.
And the ion team, which is where my former graduate student was a participant. It was, I'm quite sure, primarily his ideas with his head of his lab, reluctantly going ahead. But the head of the lab already had a Nobel Prize and this is Dehmelt, in fact he shared I with me. And then the other one was… yeah, it was Schalow and this man from Munich. And he shared it with… And they didn’t… the… and the… Schalow already had the Nobel Prize, so that… it gets complicated and it's hard to say… you know, the head of the group… But in both of these cases, I think it's quite clear that the junior member did most… originally did it and pushed it a little with reluctance of the other one.
And in any case, they didn’t get it, whereas three other people did get it for the next phase. One of them made a… Bill Phillips made a very important discovery. He found that the laser cooling was much better even than the theory says it ought to be. And the other people applied it and so on. But in any case, this is a difficulty of the Nobel Prize, it's frequently quite unfair and most people realize this and take it in their stride. And in fact, most people… many of the people who have gotten it, have lost out on one side of it and in a certain sense, I could have gotten in on Rabi’s Nobel Prize, but I didn’t. He deserved it clearly the most out of his very junior partner.
But it was nice to get it myself. And I felt badly on mine that Dan Kleppner at MIT wasn’t also given… I got it for two things and he was my collaborator on one of the two things. Well they phrased it in a funny way. They phrased it as an application of one thing that I had done alone to that method which Kleppner and I developed… we developed… the key thing was not the application, but that’s… I'm digressing. Now the —
You chose the members of the —
I chose… well, I nominated them and maybe a few extras. And then the National Academy has a… essentially a physics branch of the National Academy confirmed who they should be. And no, I didn’t choose… no, some I didn’t know about. I mean, we wanted some people who were good at acoustics, I didn’t know any good acoustics people. So we got one of the others …. And then we realized at the last minute that we… nobody on the committee had probably ever fired a gun much less do much about it. So we got somebody nominated from the federal government who was on the —
You should have had Henry Kendall, he loved guns and cannons.
Yeah, we should have.
All of this stuff.
Yeah, I guess that’s right, we could have. Well, we didn’t. I didn’t know that. And he's also a very good careful critic, he would have been a very good person on that. But we had a very good group on it. And well, in any case, we… as soon as the committee was appointed, it was announced, you get a… the whole academy was sent a whole bunch of letters. It turns out there's a big underground of conspiracy buffs. Now, the reason is very simple. I only later realized why. Because conspiracies have the following peculiarity. You can never disprove that there was a conspiracy unless you have everybody taped all the time, or you know, an FBI man sitting on top of them… all the time, otherwise there could be a conspiracy.
Whereas you can prove there isn't a conspiracy…. You can prove there is a conspiracy. You find two conspirators and you’ve got it. And most people like certainty. I mean, people don’t like things that are left up in the air. So it means that the… whatever is done in one direction is going to be dissatisfying to a large number of people because they said, “but look you didn’t prove there was no conspiracy,” no you never can prove there was no conspiracy. Oh but you can prove that the particular evidence for a conspiracy is wrong. And well, in any case, they… we got this group together and looked over it and our initial… we only had a couple of meetings actually but we did a lot of work in between individually.
And we… well as soon as the committee was appointed, the Academy received a bunch of letters from members of the conspiracy community, almost all of which were the same, it almost always start out and say nobody listens to me and if they did, that would understand… explain why… I mean, my favorite one of those was said… one that said… nobody listens to me but Oswald was having trouble with his wife and therefore was unhappy with wives and the epitome of wives was Jacqueline Kennedy and he tried to assassinate Jacqueline Kennedy and missed and hit the president. I considered this sort of a most ridiculous version, but I mean the letters were that… Well there was one letter that… and in fact the Academy staff looked over the letters and said there's nothing but a bunch of junk in any of these.
And then after the committee was appointed and before we had our meeting, well you know, I'll at least read… look at the letters myself as chairman of the committee, about fifty of them or so. And most of them were like the one I just mentioned. One of them started out the same way, nobody listens to me, it was from a rock drummer in Ohio by the name of Barber, and… Steve Barber. And he said he thought he could detect crosstalk between the two channels' communication. I mean, the… Dallas, during the time of the motorcade, had two channels of communication. There was one for normal police duty, and one for the motorcade. So the chief of police is in one car and you can tell where the motorcade is at any given time.
The other car was just a normal police duty, robbery on such and such a street. Now the channel microphone that was stuck open was on the channel was for normal police duty. He wasn’t supposed to be on the… in the motorcade. But that was the one that had this symbol and seemed even by the Bolt, Beranek and Newman studies, it seemed to even correspond almost to motorcycles moving along.
One thing that Dick told me was that whoever is the police chief or whatever —
But knew the name of the officer whose motorcycle had the button stuck open but has never revealed it.
Well I think that’s interesting because I think we have it in our report. I did get… after our report was… the Academy report was written, I was sent a clipping from one of the Dallas papers, in which a… maybe it would have been an interview with a police officer who believes that it was his microphone was stuck. And there's another man who… there's an official… the Bolt, Beranek and Newman people attribute it to one person who denies it. He says he was on the correct channel, he wasn’t on the wrong channel, because he was in the motorcade which put him in the right position, but he was supposed to be on the motorcade channel which he has insisted … that was one of the problems.
But then another policeman, after our report was written, did… I think had an interview with a paper and I got a copy of it, and I also… our report had already been written… or maybe… In any case, I called him up and I talked to him and he said yes, he thought his was stuck and he said where he was which sounded like a pretty reasonable place from it. And… but I mean we couldn't… getting data… I mean, our study was over… over and published. Where else… it was so near on the end, all I could do was tack on the end. There was a statement made, I can’t really remember which it was, I have to look it up, because I think there is some…
But in any case, I did have an interview with him, but not a sworn interview or anything like that, not real testimony. But he felt that his was the one that was stuck. And I think it probably was. But in any case, that’s an open question. But then we… where was I… before you asked about…
You were saying how all the individual… there weren't many committee meetings but the individual members —
Oh yes, okay. But we each studied the Bolt, Beranek and Newman report. We each noted different ways in which we felt the statistics was poorly handled. I mean, they had lots of noise pulses, they had done some things to sort of enhance the pulse part of it. And they had a lot of things. And then they had to choose what they did, and in fact was they chose from the Dictabelt what they thought were the principal acoustic sounds for the thing. And then they made a plastic markers with that range in which they marked each one of these places. And then also the Bolt, Beranek and Newman study, they had a fairly wide range, each one was a rather wide strip because they had to cover all the distance between two microphones. And that’s what basically Weiss and Aschkenasy then sort of theoretically tried to… by attributing the things to particular echoes to narrow that one down.
And that’s where they got the ninety-five percent. And… but well, in our meeting… of course the… yeah, the Weiss and Aschkenasy one was in at the time we had our meeting. And we were unhappy with the Bolt, Beranek and Newman statistics, and unhappy with the selection of which pulses were the principal ones for the Weiss and Aschkenasy study. And the fact they only studied the one set so that you couldn't get a high… you couldn't correlate with the others having a high… but that’s all… well, they had limited money, that’s what they had to do. And it's a big study.
And what they did was… the Weiss and Aschkenasy, was a very slow and tedious study. So in any case, we… but we then… we got all these… one of the things from this Steve Barber, it sounded just like all the rest of the wild ones, but when I read through them, I realized that he had a very interesting thing, he said if it were true that he felt there was crosstalk between the two channels. Up until then, there was no way of correlating the times. But the crosstalks would give you a correlation of the times between the two tapes. One would have a presumed assassination shot and the other, of which… crosstalk was…
But the crosstalk was actually right in the midst of the shooting and it was a phrase… but the phrase that was crosstalk was the sheriff of… the Dallas Police Chief and the Sheriff of Dallas County were riding in the same car and using the same speaker and same microphone. And the crosstalk was the sheriff giving instructions to his troops that they should go to a certain location and then the phrase was “hold everything until” … what do you call murder, not murder squad but…
Homicide squad could get there. And well this actually occurred on that tape which if you listen, you can hear it very feebly, it's not easy to pick up on it. And you can pick it up or at least every third try or something like that. And if you get used to it and… And that occurs one minute after the police chief on that same tape says go to Parkland Hospital. So it's clearly one minute after the assassination was over. And I think Paul Horowitz and I here were the first two that really, on our committee who took that one, the crosstalk seriously.
Oh, was Horowitz on the committee also?
Yeah, Paul Horowitz.
Okay, I'm interviewing him also. But I didn’t know that he was part of…
He was part of the original committee. He was a young staff member at Harvard. But his specialty was electronics. His is probably the best book on electronics written since… solid state electronics is … or his when he has… He has a pretty good private income from his textbooks. And in any case, he's a very bright guy and he was on the committee. And since he was here, he was one I tended to talk to. I think I was the first one that really believed that was crosstalk. Well, when we had the —
[Change of tapes]
So at our first meeting, I… we had a lot of discussion, but I also presented this crosstalk problem that I think… that by that time I had gotten fairly convinced it was true and so was Paul, because we tried it out. And then the committee listened and old Luis Alvarez who was partially deaf at that time, he listened and he couldn't hear anything. He was very, very disbelieving in the crosstalk. And actually I thought that it was… I could pick up a phrase that lasted… there was “hold everything until” then it sort of went out and then there was something you could get very feebly, it’s the [there??] which occurred about the right time after, so it measured the timing of that phrase. And it jibed really pretty closely. I think it was quite clearly there, but it wasn’t easy to do by audio, by just listening.
Well in any case, the committee agreed… they I think basically thought there wasn’t anything yet that they could hear, but they agreed we ought to look into it further. So I think Paul and I arranged to go to the FBI and get them… they had excellent facilities. We didn’t have fancy facilities for picking up extra equipment. Dick Garwin had some through IBM, but most of us on the committee… And the committee didn’t provide any funds for equipment. And but so we got them to… So we then agreed we'd ask the FBI to see if they couldn't use their equipment to do… There was a thing known which we were all of us aware of, known as a sound spectrogram. A sound spectrogram is a plot where you get the frequency of the signal is the vertical axis, and the horizontal axis is the time at which that signal comes out.
And the intensity of the signal is just by the degree of darkness on the thing. And we felt that… and that was one way we could see we could get that better. And then I think we did that one first and indeed that gave a good indication of what it… here I could dig out and show you a picture even.
I've seen them.
You’ve seen them, okay.
Dick showed them —
Oh he showed them to you. Maybe I'm repeating things that Dick has already told you too much about. Although I was a little more… in the beginning of things, I was more deeply in than Dick was.
I find that everybody tells maybe the same story —
Uses different words and —
Oh yeah, that’s right.
That’s just fine from my point of view.
So Dick… So the first meeting, it was a draw on it. But then we got these things from the FBI which looked pretty convincing to me. And then Dick agreed to actually do a cross correlation experiment with the sound… with his own version of the sound spectrogram. And that has the characteristic… you could then run the… of course … one of the variables you had, the tapes could go at… we didn’t know what the speeds were necessarily, there were all these speeds, so you had… But he did find then that he… and he probably showed you that… a single peak that came out of his cross correlation. And then I also noted that there were… another way you could check it was it meant only in the sound spectrograms, not only do you get the timing when the pulse is up, but also the vertical column is the frequency.
And those should be inverse with each other, in other words, if one tape compared to another is moving faster, well then the time is shortened, but the frequency is increased of any signal. And I found that that was occurring. Well… and I put that in actually in one of the first drafts of the report. That went out to the committee, other things out … . And Luis Alvarez, I think didn’t read that portion of it, and he then had that idea. And he was so… suddenly he was the big proponent of it being crosstalk, he [???]. I decided I'd say nothing about [???].
So as far as the committee is concerned, and as far as Dick Garwin is probably concerned, that was in the looking at it on the frequency was an invention of Alvarez. But I was more anxious to… I was so glad to see him come aboard that I wasn’t going to quibble over who invented what. And… but there is a copy. I do have copies of the early communications in which I proposed it.
All of this has… this is all in 1981.
This is all in 1981 and '82. And we —
We started again —
Well now… that’s right. What we did in '81, '82, we basically… was basically with… the key bits of evidence was the sound spectrograms, the fitting things of what you could listen to, tell by listening. And the… this very useful cross correlation which Dick Garwin… that was I think his main contribution to that phase of it. And this we published and immediately Stokes, who was the chairman of the House Committee said oh we'll have a hearing on it. My theory was if we came out with a conclusion of the supporting Bolt, Beranek and Newman, there would be a hearing, if not, there wouldn’t be. And there never was a hearing.
And I later learned that actually Bolt… without sending me a copy, … the fellow named Barger who was chairman of the Bolt, Beranek and Newman committee, had sent a long letter to Stokes countering our paper, but I never got a copy of it, so… until a number of years later. And I do have a copy now, but by then it was… And basically… And that was the way it was. Now, that didn’t necessarily stop the views that there was a conspiracy. First place, Barger, who I think all our committee was very disappointed in him, in the sense that we delayed our report for approximately a year in hopes that he would come aboard.
But he insisted during almost the entire year, that there was no crosstalk. And finally, Bolt, Beranek and Newman, the company Bolt, Beranek and Newman… his trustees hired an outside acoustical consultant to see if… to decide whether there was crosstalk. They concluded there was definitely crosstalk, just the way we said. At which point Barger changed … and then said that well it was… there was an overdub, I mean the recording mechanism got somehow bounced to another place and recorded at a different time, which was very hard to see how it fitted. And by that time, we went ahead and published it. But so basically Barger was still believing that his version was true, and it came out.
And then there were two other things sort of continuing in the meantime. There's a very good museum in Dallas of the Kennedy assassination. And in fact if you go to this, in the course of it… you might even find it interesting to make a trip to it, because it gives a lot of the background of the Kennedys… of that time. I mean, the spirit of the time.
I didn’t know there was a museum.
Yeah, it's in Daley Plaza near the place where the assassination was. And they have a very good presentation but of course their main source of support are the conspiracy buffs. And they do come out and they do… they present very… there's a lot about the Kennedys in addition to the assassination. It's a good museum. But then they present… and in presenting the Weiss and Aschkenasy result, they have a video of him presenting this to the joint committee and of Stokes saying that’s a really very important issue to get settled. And then the… that video ends with a statement that several later committees were unable to find evidence of the… were unable to find… they found… oh, were unable to confirm the… were unable to find these shots. I think that’s all.
I'll definitely go to the museum because I have to go to Austin to go to the LBJ library to do some research.
Well okay… well look, then will you do for me the following favor? I will even pay your way into the museum, it has a reasonable fee, but it's really worth it. Will you listen and maybe listen twice, they keep repeating these things for people that come through, it's maybe a five minute video that goes on and on. And at the end of it, after they… after Weiss and Aschkenasy are presenting their case to the congressional committee on video, there is a phrase which… something to the effect that subsequent… some subsequent studies were unable to find evidence for the shots being there, or something like that. Now, that’s in a certain sense, a very incorrect summary of our report. Our report not nearly… didn’t find evidence for it, but we found that the evidence that there was a shot at the right time was in fact wrong, because it was one minute out of phase.
It's as much… much different to say this is the most you can do… to disprove the principal evidence for a conspiracy is very different from being unable to find the evidence for the conspiracy. And I would like to get that exact words because I've been wanting to write the museum director sometime.
I'll just record it on this device.
Good, do that.
So you can…
Do that. And it's the… it's sort of the last thing as you go through. That would be great, if you’d send me a transcript of that, I would… I mean, it still would… there's no [???], I told you, for this later study that we were doing. Well now let's get to the latest study, but that was essentially the way that things are left. And well, then there's this… I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie JFK.
Okay. That, of course adopts not only the view of the conspiracy view, the extreme… but probably the most disreputable conspiracy view. I think it even got… that one even came up to court and got ruled out or something. And anyway, that one required a conspiracy of some hundred people in the government, which is not easy to get that many people conspiring in our government. And nobody giving away the secret, including among the ones that had to be conspired was Chief Justice Warren for the cover up and Bobby Kennedy who was… and a whole bunch of other people, probably all members of the… all the members of that committee, of the Warren Commission.
So well now let’s shift… Then things sort of stayed in that form. The movie JFK came out which did a lot to question the [???] and I think several of us felt… I mean, we erred… the biggest mistake our academy committee made, we shouldn’t have published the report, we should have produced a movie, because I mean most people I think take the movie quite seriously. Even though if you think about it, that version can’t be quite true.
But let me ask you, just in terms of the Kennedy assassination in general, I realize that the limited utility of these audio tapes to prove anything but…
Well you can prove some things. You can prove what's wrong about them.
Yes. But just in terms of the assassination itself, I have never read the conspiracy literature and I've just got one —
There is a vast literature on that. There's also a vast literature of disproving some of those. I mean, the… but they're also true that there are… I guess any time that anything is [???], people investigating very, very thoroughly. There are a lot of [??] strange coincidences. First place, the autopsy was badly gobbled. But part of this has been presented partly due maybe to Jacqueline Kennedy who did not want them to do too much damage to Kennedy's body.
But I remember… I think it was in the New Yorker, which I worked for for many years, I mean their checking department is pretty thorough. And I can’t remember if it was in their review of the JFK movie, the Oliver Stone movie, in which they were, you know, very critical of all the inaccuracies. But they were also, you know, presenting some resume of…
Oh I read the New Yorker frequently, I didn’t see that one,
…of that information and things like the autopsy and the president's brain [???] is today missing which is… it seems, you know, unbelievable… how can…
Well I think the catch is that… I think I can understand partly. Namely, this was so overwhelming that everything was done differently. I mean, they didn’t do… you know, it wasn’t done the routine checks that you have to do. I mean, everybody was excited and I think did very… and there's no question, there were a number of things done badly and… but I think they were stupidly badly. And excited… All were done by, I would say, everybody within the first 48 hours of the assassination who were probably so upset that they weren't thinking well.
It's like a doctor here told me when I had to have some minor surgery. When I went into the hospital, he said I could arrange VIP treatment for you, but he said believe me, you are much better off with normal treatment.
Because if you get the junior doctor who does this procedure 500 times a year, you'll get one level of care. If the head of the department who hasn’t done this for five years and gives you the treatment —
Well and if here you have… they want to get the president's body off on a plane, certain limited time of the same day, they don’t have… probably the chief autopsy man isn't there. And no, no, there's no question of what had been done… stupid things were done, there's no question there were some strange coincidences. And I think there… but now that one, I rely on the… on all the other things, at least the multimillion dollar study of the House Select Committee did not turn up much that they thought was really good evidence. And their whole case for a high probability was based solely on this acoustic data. And that we… that our committee felt was [???]. Now see… since — [side conversation]
So let us move onto the present phase. And this came sort of out of the blue, I first heard about it… well, a couple of years ago, from a reporter from the Washington Post saying that there is an article coming out… well, has come out on the… in the journal called Science and Justice, which I'd never heard of before, but I think it is a respectable journal. It's the sort of official journal of the Forensic Society… International Forensic Society, it's a British based publication. And it's very good. And they were publishing an article by an agricultural scientist that… Department of Agricultural station at the University of Texas in… Texas or Texas A&M, the same general area is Texas A&M. And that they… you’ve probably seen… you’ve probably got the article.
You should get it. I think Dick has it. I don’t… I can Xerox a copy but I'm not sure that’s the best way for us to spend, the little we have.
Oh no, I'll get it easily from him.
And they… the author of that article, he sort of refers to this crosstalk as a very feeble crosstalk and… I mean, if it's crosstalk, it's crosstalk. I mean, whether it's feeble or not, if it's not reliable, that’s the one other thing, but that wasn’t quite what… but in general… but then he makes an analysis… First place, our principal belief was the best recording. We got the FBI to make a recording which had no skips, no repeats that we knew of at the time, and I think that’s still true. But it has the awkwardness that it… the sound… this is on the channel two, which is the one that has the difficulty. The sound… the autograph… grey autograph has a peculiar way of recoding things. It records from the inside out on a disk.
And it… and then… but it's adjusted for a constantly linear speed so that the… it sort of measures the speed… not the rate of revolutions on the turntable, but the rate it moves under the recorder. And no one has ever been able to play things back on those without having lots of skips and repeats. But… and what you notice most are the repeats, that's easy to see when they're particularly spoken repeats. But then if it repeats, it could also be skips. And so it was uncertain, whereas… And the FBI also couldn't… could do it on a Gray recorder playback.
But if they did it with their most sensitive sound detector and a very delicate turntable, what they had, at constant RPM, the usual thirty or something RPM…. But that automatically means that the frequency… the speed changes when you do the playback since it was recorded one way and played back another. But it hasn’t all… well that’s what we felt is the most reliable one and the one we most used and we did a certain amount of crosschecking at the time of the original report. And well then… and there's another… we also studied some of the other channel reports, particularly for the following reason. We wanted to see if we… what would happen if we took another cross… there's this [???] crosstalk right at the time, has the happy feature, you don’t have to worry about speed corrections because it was right then… when things recorded continuously.
And… but it was… but we also wanted to get another crosscheck and there was another crosstalk a couple minutes later… where the chief was saying something, you go to Stemmons and do something there. And that’s on both places and quite clear, it's a longer phrase and it's quite clearly crosstalk. Work back from there and then if you… what you think is the velocity of the recoding, you can get back to have a crosscheck. But now that will be different since this recording is sound-activated, it wasn’t… on that channel… on channel one, it was all on continuously because it was stuck. On that channel, it could turn off. Anytime it was quiet for more than four seconds. Well, there are four or five places which it was quiet for more than [???] for that, so it could stop and nobody…
And in fact, the total elapsed time is much shorter on that time from analogous events that you can correlate from, but that seemed perfectly alright to us because then it would have to be stopped at certain times. And well… this fellow from… So but we felt the best check was doing it with the one that didn’t even have a crosstalk. Oh, we did have a subsidiary analysis of the other one. Well the man in Texas, Thomas by name, didn’t study the good recording, he only studied the other one with the stops. And when we studied it, we… the one worst mistake we made in the original report was that when we wanted the… when we were working with this other channel… this other recording that had the skips and… I'm sorry, the repeats, and we thought it was a cautious thing to do because it was… it worked against us in some respect.
But we also should, in getting the timing, we should subtract off the time spent on repeats, which we did in that report. And even with having subtracted that off, we concluded that yes… but now instead of it being a one minute, as we get when we use one close up, it was at least, I don’t know, 28 seconds or something like that. And it was compatible with it. Well… but we did make that mistake also of not counting that. So we thought well Thomas only used the channel that we didn’t base our things primarily on, and which had that mistake. So that saved him 28 seconds or something like that.
Then he also falsely assumed that one of the other recordings was going at just normal speed, when played back, it didn’t have any adjustment, maybe it was played back on the same machine, but that could be readjusted. In any case, he the value which, as we found later, particularly when we could measure the speed, the speed was going well, his assumption the speed was different. And when you combine those two things together… those errors together, he gets the… he can claim that… he claimed at the time the statement of ‘hold everything’, was exactly… no, at the time of the ‘hold everything’ was simultaneously with the shots.
And so… and he made several other mistakes. And when he… he reported that one and then I got in touch with… Now our committee of course no longer existed, so the committee couldn't reply. And the Academy had no longer any funds for this or doing anything with it. But I got together with some of the members… the only members whom I could locate. They were the ones that have… four or five of them had died, I mean so you couldn't get them. The committee didn’t exist. But it ended up that Dick Garwin and… he's from Harvard, now an acoustics…
Did he have an Indian name or…?
No, that’s another… that’s one at IBM… Chernoff. Chernoff who was at MIT at the time of our report, and in the meantime moved to Harvard, and Paul Horowitz who was on the… everybody members of the original committee. And Dick Garwin and… originally I did locate a fellow [???] at Princeton but he didn’t have time to do anything on it, so okay —
[Change of tapes]
But he was helping Dick so much… he's a coauthor of our paper. In fact, I see now, the principal coauthor. And those two did a lot on our further study. Not only did Thomas write his original paper criticizing it, which is correct, but he also wrote a very vicious letter… Dick probably can give you a copy of that, I could… criticizing our first draft of our report, in the process of which he had a couple of interesting complaints that had never come up before, which we gathered from this community. I mean, this community of conspirators who keep informing each other of their discoveries, one of which was, for example, that there were a couple of missing words in our… what we considered the good recording.
And that was worrisome because I mean, then it would mean it wasn’t getting the timing, it depends on it being complete. And in any case, some part of it was missing. And Dick and Ralph Linsker did a beautiful job of identifying… And in fact those… all those words were manufactured by the repeats. They were the beginning of one word and the ending of another word put together. None were words… people that could never get a… a word where everybody interpreted it differently. But they're really a phrase I mean.
And he did a beautiful job of getting that straightened out and also of making sure there were not other repeats and the technical way of slowing it down so that you can emphasize the… They did a very good…I think Dick… whereas I think I did mostly on the original thing. And the original draft of this paper, the last improvements were chiefly done by Dick and Ralph. I don’t know who was which between the two.
[Change of tapes]
I have to turn into a pumpkin, but I have an apartment here in Cambridge and so I'm back every few months, so there's no problem.
Fine, okay. But do let me know when you… as soon as you make your trip to Texas.
Yeah, I'm trying to organize a schedule for the research and whatever… I'm not quite sure when I'll get there, but it will be sometime in the next six months or so.
Yeah okay fine. If it's earlier than that, I might even get some… one comment on it in our report even.
It's not possible for the museum —
Oh yes, but the museum director is of course a very… is the leading conspiracy advocate.
One thing I can probably do is… it would probably be easy for me as a journalist to call the museum and ask for a copy of the video.
And it's the main video they show to…
It's the video they show at the end with Weiss and Aschkenasy —
They show at the end of what?
At the end of the tour.
Okay, near the end…
Very near the end… at the end of the tour. It's of Weiss and Aschkenasy…
How do you spell Aschkenasy.
A-S-C-H-K-E-N-A… like it sounds.
It's like a name of a type of… it's a subgroup of Jewish religion.
I think so, probably.
I'll just call and ask for a copy of the video. They may just send it to me,
Well I don’t know if they have it, but I mean they show it. I don’t know if they have copies, but they might.
With journalists they are usually fairly relaxed. It's worth a shot.
Well good. Well I enjoyed this a lot.