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Interview of Paul Doty by Dan
Ford on 2004 December,Audio and video interviews about the life and work of Richard Garwin, 2004-2012,Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics,College Park, MD USA,www.aip.org/history-programs/niels-bohr-library/oral-histories/40912-3
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In this interview Paul Doty discusses topics such as: President's Science Advisory Committee (PSAC), Soviet-American Disarmament Studies (SADS), Henry Kissinger, Committee on International Secutiry and Arms Control (CISAC), Spurgeon Keeny, IBM, Pugwash.This interview is part of a collection of interviews on the life and work of Richard Garwin. To see all associated interviews, click here.
I guess the main thing is to learn about some of your principal interactions with Dick.
Yes, well, as Galbraith says when I claim I have poor memory — he says poor memory is a great asset in writing biography. But I must have got to know him early on. I think that we overlapped a little bit when I left PSAC in '64 and he came on — or maybe he came on a year earlier, I can't remember.
Do you — it would have been… Well, I guess it was this — the STARFISH Prime, are you familiar with that?
Not very much. That was not — I didn't get involved in that, at least as far as I can remember. So we became good friends from then on. He started going to — is it working?
Yeah, but let me just put it on your sweater. Your chin was touching it.
So I suppose that… Well, after the PSAC connection, I suppose that — yeah, I had gotten involved in Pugwash, and he started coming in '67 and has a great record. I just looked it up in the book I have. He went to 23 of the meetings between '67 and '97, and these are all listed in a quinquennial Pugwash book of mine. I don't have the last one; the one I have stops with '97, but there would've been another one in '02. So, that occupied him quite a bit. Then after we had a great meeting with the Russians in 1960 in Moscow, that was sort of a breakthrough, and then we had the Russians here in '61. In that period, really top scientists were on both sides. Its changed its character quite a bit now. Out of that — it was sort of like the UN. It was 15 or so nations represented in the big annual conferences, so I pushed hard to get a separate Soviet-US meeting group together. That did come to pass, and I got the funding for it. So from '65 to '75, that met once or twice a year, and Garwin was part of that.
I think that did quite a bit of original work on getting the scientists involved. Of course they were in — Moscow was very important in those days, unlike now. But I became a very close friend of Kapitza’s in the time before he died. And of course Szilard was along, and so on. So that was a fairly fertile period, I think. I am trying to write that up some. I have — fortunately have — good notes from the director of the operation.
So that was the '60s. I remember he and his wife came up to our farm in Vermont, and it was just so typical of him: He spent all the weekend fixing the dishwasher and fixing the washing machine. Fixing this and fixing that. He just couldn't keep his hands off anything that wasn't working.
Well, I mean, everybody I've talked with has something in the house that Garwin has [laughter] [overlapping]. I guess it must be a habit of his. I always liked it when Henry Kendall would come to my house, because —
— he would sharpen knives. He would fix loose pot handles. You know, one time — I am notorious for never washing my cars, and he just couldn't stand to see a piece of equipment maltreated like my cars. He'd wash it himself, trying to shame me to do the work.
I'm sure you've heard this fantasized story of which he is so much represented. At the time of revolution — the French Revolution, the guillotine was going on — .
It's a perfect story he picked. “Face up”… and “I think I see what the trouble is.” Anyway, so this was a 10-year period. It was called Soviet-American Disarmament Studies, SADS. Ruina, I don't know if you — you'll probably talk with him.
I'm trying —
Yes, he’s away for a few days, but he'll be back in a couple of days, I think. He would give a good rendering of that. Then, let's see. Nixon was elected.
There was a committee of, I guess, you and Drell and Garwin and —
Panofsky and Ruina. Five of us, yes.
Who met with Kissinger?
Yes, I had gotten to know Kissinger quite well here before he was famous. And so he asked me to organize this little group and we met about every three weeks for about a year and a half. Ran out of steam; but I think he was becoming much busier. But it was useful. Again, Ruina remembers that very well. I think that this was the period when MIRV was coming, emerging, and we certainly tried hard to convince him of the virtue of holding back. And I think we probably succeeded, but then in the showdown he traded it all for something else with the Pentagon that he wanted — he traded off objecting to it for something else he said. I don't know what that was.
This famous statement of Kissinger's, you know, that he hadn't understood —
Oh yes, that was a little bit - not quite. He understood it quite well.
Are there any records of those meetings? Or notes?
Yes. Well, not much. Not anything comparable to SADS. In fact, there isn't very much, but if you want, I will try to look up — we probably have drafts of some of the papers we wrote for him.
It seemed to me to be a very important example of scientists giving advice. He was a key person at a key time, and whatever documents [overlapping].
Yes, well, I'll see if I can do that. I remember vividly, he was so upset that he couldn't talk about radar with Paul Nitze, and so we prepared a 30 or 40 page introduction to radar. I don't know how much he absorbed of that.
But in terms of Garwin's participation in these meetings, was there any —
Of course, he always was very good on the technical side. I think he and Drell wrote this introduction to radar. He was always a good hard worker, and prompt. What else was in that period?
He could be quite feisty. Was there any —
No, I think amongst his peers that it's not so evident. But when he detects a little failing on the IQ side, he goes to work. And I gather, when it comes down to the secretarial level, he was very hard to keep pleased. I know he wore out several people on the Council on Foreign —
I've been to his offices, and his insistence on the efficient usage [???]. Poor secretary, there's a manual this thick for running the office.
Actually — oh my, I can imagine.
Instructions [???], and the secretary was telling me he'll find a shortcut on the computer keyboard [???], and the shortcut will go into the book, and she damn well better be using that shortcut the next time. He's paying for eight hours of work, so you've got to [???] that [???].
Let's see. But I'll see if mine — mine is just struggling to find some papers. I have a 90% percent complete file.
I assume that I could go to the Nixon library and things like that — but people like yourself probably have more things —
Yeah, that — even I haven’t even gotten over to the Kennedy Library, which I would like to look into, because several of those things I did in PSAC, I would like to write about, and they're declassified, but I can't get them on the phone.
I was talking to Carl Kaysen on Saturday, and I mentioned going to the Kennedy Library, and he said good luck. He said they're very cooperative. He said things are not exactly — he went over to look over some of his own papers and things that he knew should be there, et cetera, and they were difficult to find.
Yes, I must make that trip.
Would Kissinger have much recollection of Garwin? Would he be worth my time to interview?
Well, I would honestly doubt it, but that should not be the final word. He just has so much in his head. He selects those parts that he likes to make sure are propagated, and the rest gets a little fuzzy, that has been my experience.
I figured I should give it the old college try —
— in any event. But I didn't know what to expect.
And then of course there was a clash with Nixon and the PSAC, which led to its demise in the form that it existed. But even — I was there in whole Kennedy period, and that was the tops, just because we and Kennedy were on such good terms. He had us out to Camp David several times. It was real. And interestingly enough, with respect to going to the moon, there was a certain logic that he would discuss it with us. But Jerry [Wiesner] had said that we had discussed it long ago and all decided that a non-manned — your trips would be the way to do it. So we never got consulted on that.
I went once — I went once with Leontief [???] to some papal conference in Castel Gandolfo, and Leontief and 6, or 8, or 10 scientists were supposed to advise the pope on various issues of the day.
Yes, I remember Weisskopf was in that. And Alex Rich, I think.
He was part of it. At any rate, they had all of these discussions, and they thought, well, the number one recommendation would have to be with population control. But, well, let's just put that off the table. Move ahead to something that he might possibly entertain.
I think they — I don't know if it's still going on or not, but I think they did get a fairly decent statement out of him on evolution before —
I was just there for the one session. And then we see the evolution…
And then there's sort of this quiet period between '75 and '80. The SADS group that I had — couldn't recover from the death of Millionschikov, who was the co-chair on the other side. There was just no replacement for him. So it dwindled out, and then in '75 or so, there was a sort of quasi-detente, which meant the government was doing more business. But then by '80 it was generally thought to try to revive what SADS was, and Handler, who was president of the National Academy then, became quite positive. Prior to that, the SADS group, I had to fund it through the American Academy. The National Academy didn't want to risk getting involved, but that had changed by 1980. So we did start what came to be known as CISAC then, the Committee on Science… CISAC. Committee on —
International Security and Arms Control?
Yeah, that's right. Yes, good. And Panofsky was chairman of that for a long time, and Garwin was a very active member. So that filled up — well, it's still going on, but it's pretty thin gruel now with the Bush administration. I feel sorry for them. I resigned about five years ago. I think I was getting too old to do the traveling. Holdren has been the chairman most recently. They brought it out to —
How is he doing? Just between you and me.
Well, he is efficient and works very hard. I think he only sleeps about four hours a night, he told me. So he has lots of things going. Tight schedule. And he does have a good group at the Kennedy School. Matt Bunn is the mainstay. Matt Bunn. You might've known his father who was I think — legal advisor to ACDA. Matt, he's all focused on security of fissile materials, but it is the best thing that's going on I think, in this area, the Kennedy School. And he keeps that alive. But now he's [Holdren] making a big change. He's leaving CISAC, or he's stepping down from being chairman, and he's going half-time at the Kennedy School and half-time out at Woods Hole where he will become director of an environmental group out there, which I've forgotten the name of.
I knew him in the '70s. He was working with Paul Ehrlich. I was sort of surprised to see him involved in CISAC.
Yes, he made the transition, yes. Yes. So it would be worth talking to him, because he certainly knows what's been going on there in the later years, and I don't. I think the China connection has been useful. I last went with them in '92 and had a heart attack in Beijing, so I remember it rather vividly. But I — you would have to get some other assessment of how useful it's been, but I have an idea that it has maintained a good rapport with weaponeers in their side. So that brings us pretty much up to his sessions at the Council on Foreign Relations, which I think did increase his social and political awareness. Maybe a little late in life, but my own sense is that he was able to deal more effectively with group meetings, and the things he wrote as a result of having to meet certain communications standards at the Council. So that's sort of the trajectory once over. His daughter is here, you know, and I presume you will see her.
I'm actually seeing her this evening.
Ah, good. Yes, she's doing a great job in the Gene Center, the Genomic Center. It's a good relation between her and her parents, so she would be a real source, I think. I think that it illustrates —
Hold on one second.
No, everything's fine.
[change of tapes]
… to be on the safe side.
It illustrated this matter of how much his social skills related to his communications. I think that he can give very good speeches to a large audience, but sometimes, it does go sour. Again, he expects too much of the audience or he gets involved in too much detail. And then on the political side, for example, he was on this committee of Rumsfeld’s, and I think that it's widely believed that he compromised too much to stay in the Committee. Maybe compromise is too strong a word, but oh I think it was impossible for him to express himself totally on all items in space[??]. There's no doubt that he had to make a choice. But I think he might have went a little too far on that.
He expressed publicly too much admiration of Rumsfeld for no gain.
One of the things I'm very curious about is the whole meaning of these committee reports in the sense of you get the document, and it has 15 people, the individual people have worked on the particular parts of it. I picked up various reports, and I said, this isn't correct or whatever. Because I didn't work on that part. And then I'm like, "Oh, who put that in?"
Yeah, the lowest common denominator effect.
The thing that I remember, I guess it was the Ford Foundation report, I think it was 1976, on nuclear energy. I don't know if you were — I think Spurgeon Keeny was the…
That's right. I worked on the second book, which Spurgeon chaired. I don't think I was on the first one yet.
Henry Kendall and I were both outraged by the report itself because the shallowness of it was unbelievable. Since I was running UCS at the time, I called up Spurgeon Keeny and in the preface to the report, it referred to the committee preparing working papers on various subjects. And I said, "Is it possible to get a copy of the working papers?" Well, there was hemming and hawing, and just, "The working papers are just the drafts of the chapters." They made it sound as if there was a chapter and some pieces of documents behind it. There was a chapter on the economics of nuclear power. And I think Kenneth Arrow and I forget who else was there — economist members…
I think I remember that one. That was pretty bad.
I went to the public presentation, and during the question period, I said that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has a document that is the list of 400 major unresolved safety problems. I said, "When you did your estimate of the economics of nuclear energy, what costs did you give to the possibly [???] made?"
You didn't get a full answer for that.
There was no answer. But I said to Garwin, "But your name is on this report also." He said, "Oh, it was the economists. All they did was take whatever the industry estimates were, capital cost, and divided by number of kilowatt hours." He said that there was some discussion as to what was the basis, and then he said, "There wasn't any basis. It was just filler material." But it's relatively important filler material. It's the reason we're supposedly doing this, for the economic benefit.
I’ve looked at JASON reports and so forth. And I'm not at all convinced that this process of these distinguished — and when I was talking to Spurgeon Keeny at the time about the Ford Foundation report, I just kept asking him more questions. Did you look at this? Did you look at that?
He must have squirmed.
Finally, he said that the thing I had to understand is that this report represents the opinions of 12 busy people on the subject. I said, "That's good, but it should say so."
I don't know. They might have busy, but they spent a lot of time on it for what it produced. Anyway, he's worth talking to on the general Garwin problem. He's been close to him for the whole period.
But in general, in the dynamics of the groups, you can only fight about so many things, and you can fight so hard. You have to just let some things drop.
The worst thing is, and I've been on several of these, and I remember Harold Agnew had a penchant for holding out for his own point of view, and getting one compromise after another, and then deciding not to sign it. [Laughter]
Spurgeon had his 80th birthday back in August. I couldn't go, but I think Dick went. I think Panofsky was going to come, but he couldn't make it at the last minute.
Where is Keeny based now?
At home, in Washington. He's in the phone book. He had until last year some office at the National Academies. I think he's supporting CISAC operations. But that I think is finished. Arms Control Today goes on without him.
In terms of the issues that Dick has been involved in, what in terms of policy issues, what is the thing he did most effectively, from your point of view?
Well, I suppose the early recognition of the problems of ABM he has to have credit for. But he invaded the Scientific American … back in the 1970s early. I think he was sort of the first —
Maybe it could be, yes. He has an article in the last Scientific American which I have only skimmed. But I really don’t find it so convincing. [???] … shifted to while maintaining that effective interception of long-range warheads that remain out of bounds. He's analyzing the problem of near-shore bombardment, and that is a more practical problem. I don’t know. I haven't read the article, but naturally, he wouldn't have written it unless he saw some positive tactical solution to something. So that might be worth looking at.
He's done an awful lot of things again technical and the intelligence world. He got the prize for that. I don't know how much of a good summary of that can be gotten. I suppose if you have a copy of the speeches at the ceremony.
I have the dossier. I think part of the problem is some of the most important things that he did are so classified.
Yes, so that would be hard. But one thing that stands out in my mind is the — again, I didn’t know what everybody was doing. But I had the feeling that he was the person who understood the potential of electromagnetic image collecting for satellites. I think we probably got to that several years earlier than if he hadn't been on the spot.
I was talking to some former CIA people who were involved in that. He played a big role. The examples that I was given were essentially technical troubleshooting … had CCD technology. They were on the very cutting edge of that. There had been big commitments to it, and all of the prototypes worked beautifully. But then the production versions weren’t working. This was a huge crisis in the program, because it was very far down the pipe. The manufacturer couldn't figure it out. The CIA couldn't figure it out. So they went to Yorktown Heights and showed him the data and what was going on. They said that he looked at it and said, "Has anybody checked the humidity in the factory?"
The only explanation that he could see that could cause the type of problem that they were having was that there must be some small amount of moisture in the system. That was indeed the problem. Once that was settled, it worked.
Well, well. That's the kind of thing I expect, yes.
On the other side of the coin, are there policy proposals or whatever where you think he went off the deep end?
I guess the laser separation of isotopes, he was pushing that harder than it turned out to be deserved.
And that is for what? For enrichment?
Yes. What was it called? It's actually working now, a little bit, but I don’t think it's something a small nation would take up. I think laser separation, there's a tuning problem that differentiated the isotopes. I think it would be worth looking back into that, because certainly he was optimistic that it was going to change fissile material production[??] and it didn’t come to that.
I don’t know. It would be useful if you could end up making an assessment of how he did and being the muse of downgrading PSAC to mere impotence. What was it, during the Nixon period, he upset Nixon badly. I have forgotten the details.
I'm trying to — I have to make some sort of …
That's useful. I don't know how it would come out in a detailed affair approach. But it could be that he dealt a serious blow to science advice to the President by insisting on saying outside what they were saying inside of PSAC. I don’t know the details enough now to remember, but it's certainly worth a look.
What I've seen so far on his version that basically he was subpoenaed. It was as much a shock to him as it was to anybody else that he was in public saying these things. It was about the SST, and somehow or other, some congressional committee got a hold of I don’t know if it was PSAC report or some such thing. He said he did not want to testify.
That would have been an interesting story, I think. I think he was basically right, technically.
If anybody had known beforehand that the consequence would be to destroy PSAC — it was just a very bad thing to happen. I still have the general impression — and this mainly comes from talking to his friends; I haven't talked with his enemies — I guess the general impression from several people who know him well …
She wants to go out.
You're hooked. I'll unhook you.
[changes of tapes]
I got an impression from a number of people that if he had been 10 percent more diplomatic, he would have been 100 percent more effective.
Yes, I think that is probably so, yes. Teller is not around to hear the view. Harold Agnew is still around. I think that might be interesting.
I was in La Jolla in June. Unfortunately, the Agnews were traveling. I have to go back to California next month. I wasn’t planning to go to La Jolla, but I think it might be worth it.
And what about his work for IBM? I knew nothing of that.
He did quite a number of things. Laser printers, touch screen computers, protection devices for hard drives for laptop computers. The way he worked for IBM was very much the way the CIA used him on that example I gave. When it came to laser printers, there were a hundred different technical options, and they had all sorts of people working on it. And his job was to say, "Check that one." Option 13C. Well, Option 13C was the one that worked. And he has a very long list of patents that they profited from.
I got to know Tom Watson pretty well in the ‘70s, and he certainly was full of respect for him. There was no sense of not getting his money's worth.
He also had proposed a number of things to IBM. Did you know about his work on the Fast Fourier Transforms?
It's probably, it's one of the most significant things he did. I'm not a mathematician, but a Fourier Transform is a shortcut. He was at a PSAC meeting with Tukey and Cooley. [Tukey, only.]
Yes, that sounds right.
And Tukey was a mathematician. At any rate, he had mentioned to Garwin some ideas that he had for Fast Fourier Transform, and Garwin had another idea, and suggested what they do is have it programmed for a computer. This was 1962 or something.
So Garwin organized a programmer to work with Tukey to make this thing. It produced — I forget what the exact number was, but you could essentially make the Fast Fourier Transform 1000 times faster, 5000 times faster, or some enormous improvement. And it permitted all these calculations, the weather, and … all these very big number-crunching, intensive things. And he proposed to IBM that they patent this and make software for it and whatnot. And IBM's response was "We're into hardware."
Fine, he said. Well, it's in the public domain, then. So he just sent 200 letters to the heads of all big laboratories, saying, "This is the way you should do computing from now on." And it revolutionized computing.
Wow! Isn’t that wonderful.
It was a much bigger incremental jump than Moore's law, double the speed in 18 months. This was an enormous factor.
A real quantum jump. That's good to hear.
And it was just in the public domain. I haven’t gone … I have signed an agreement with IBM etc. to have access to his archives. But just from the little looking through them that I've done, he was a very difficult employee.
I would imagine, yes.
If he had a recommendation that wasn't acted upon immediately, he was immediately sending a letter to the president of IBM.
[Laughter] Well, it would certainly be good to capture that side of him, too.
I also knew absolutely nothing about what he had done for IBM, or why did they support him for years. It was clear that they were getting something.
It's in my mind that he had the idea of the rotating ball in the electric typewriter.
I can ask.
I may have been misinformed. But that sticks in my mind.
One thing that I asked him to do for my own guidance and for the book, I said that I just want an alphabetical listing of the major technical contributions that you've made. Garwin from A to Z. I know some of the things, and I filled it in just to get it started. So he — he said he's very busy at the moment. He did a quick list where he's missing X Y and Z but something very significant[??] for all the other letters.
Very good. The more we talk about it the more — I shouldn't say more … how unique he is. I don't know anybody who would be even a mild version of him in his scope and depth of his ideas.
If he were a musician –— fine, you have virtuosos at the piano, but you don’t have someone who's also a virtuoso at the violin and plays jazz. You don't have that very, very talented.
It's really amazing.
I guess that one of the other questions I ask people who know him is, "How good has he been at deploying himself? Does he have a good system for choosing what to work on?"
Yes, that's a good question.
Well, one possibility would be to look into his participation in Pugwash. I have a feeling that he probably spent too much time there. That was certainly having diminishing returns in terms of science policy. Holdren would be one person to ask about that. There is a Pugwash office in Washington now, and Jeffrey Boutwell is the executive secretary or whatnot. It would be interesting to get an informed view of his contributions and, as you say, whether that was the best use of this time. He was going to all these meeting; it's been a big time consumer.
I just know from — I worked closely with Henry Kendall for many years. He and I would have candid discussions, and there would be, "I could run UCS in some fashion." And I talked with Henry several times about himself and what he was doing. I didn't at all like the evolution of UCS into an all-purpose umbrella organization.
I kept insisting that we could focus on a few important things, and if there's no big target of opportunity at the moment, just keep the money in the bank. Now they have 60 or 80 people working for them or something.
It was a parallel to the Center for Science and International Security that I founded in 1974. A couple of dozen people have merged now. It’s in the Kennedy School, with 120 people. There's no reinforcement because they don't have time to find out who to connect with.
[???] I was Leontief’s research assistant….
Oh I see, I didn’t know. A fine fellow.
I saw a lot of what he did. I used to ask myself why does he do all of these different things? I went with him to the Castle Gandolfo meeting. It was all very agreeable and interesting to have discussion with these other eminent people. But in terms of any practical, any likelihood that the Pope was going to be influenced by all of this was exactly zero. The thing is, they just seemed to me to be a lot of so-called high-level meetings, but the actual productivity was not high. It really takes away the time that people could be working on something much more important.
I always noticed that he worked better on airplanes than I did. But it still doesn't make up…
I do think his position[??] — I talked with him a bit about his career in pure science. He says that he really wasn't very good at thinking up the important questions to answer. When somebody posed one such question, fine. He could jump on it. When he was a student of Fermi, he said that Fermi was very helpful to him in telling him what to work on.
I forget what it was, but Fermi told him to work on some problem. But he was doing something else. Fermi came back two weeks later, and says, "What's the progress on this?" Dick hadn't started to do anything. So Fermi turned to the next graduate student — Leona or something —[Maria Goeppert Mayer] but at any rate she did the assignment and won the Nobel Prize. And Garwin says that he does fault himself for not having taken a good order.
I wonder if you could borrow via interlibrary loan his thesis from Chicago. That might be interesting.
I forget what his thesis was on. I haven't looked at it for — he invented some instrumentation when he was a graduate student, something called a Garwin coincidence circuit, which dominated particle physics for 20 years. It allowed them to — previously, they could only measure simultaneous events within a few millionths vs. the first nanosecond…. I think that was his graduate school achievement.
That was not bad.
It was something that he… I don’t know if he developed it for his thesis; he just developed it because Fermi needed it for the laboratory. Fermi was using some system, and Garwin looked at it and said, "That's not good enough." And he just made it. I should get his thesis.
Now there's a brief episode around 1981…
[change of tapes]
… the center and the professor here.… although I do remember the President, Derek Bok, he had serious reservations that he could adapt to the requirements of academic life. He came for a year. But it just interfered too much with his Washington trips; he had to be teaching three days a week. So it was a failure in that respect. But he certainly helped us get things moving at the Kennedy School at that time.
Well, well, well. Have you talked to Panofsky?
I am seeing him in a week.
I missed seeing him on the CISAC circuit. He was certainly a deeply interesting person.
Has Garwin had much success as a mentor or a developer of other talent, to follow-on Garwins?
Not that I know of. When you're teaching here, you're certainly in demand to most of the students.
I think for better or for worse, his natural home was with his peers.
I was told that at one point within the JASON group, he was made the chairman. They said it was a disaster because the whole process of making assignments to people to find answers —
That's not him.
He would just think about something, and think what the answer was. [Doty heartily laughing] There was nothing left to decide. Everybody was — their chairman left them completely disorganized because [???] was completed.
Well, I think you've got yourself a wonderful job.
I think it's very challenging. The archives are so enormous.
Yes, I can imagine.
Fortunately, since 1977 or so, everything is computerized. But many of the most important things are 25 years before that. I guess one of the challenges is that he wants me to look at some of the pure science that he did, like the coincidence circuit and things like that. I said, "I'll try." I'm in the sampling mode. I have to be able to understand it first before I could tell it to anybody else.
He did this experiment with Lederman on the non-conservation of parity.
No, I don’t know that,
I interviewed Norman Ramsey this morning, because that is arguably the most important experiment in physics in the last 50 years. He said that the whole notion of parity, that what you see in the mirror and what you see in reality, the laws of physics say you can't tell the difference. But various people, including Ramsey, had started to ask, "Well, what was the proof of that?"
Then there were people who said that for some of the weak nuclear forces and some forth that it was quite possible that the conservation of parity did not hold. And at any rate, Garwin and Lederman, this was in 1956 or 1957, they did an experiment over the weekend. They went to the Columbia Nevis Laboratory cyclotron. And there was some poor graduate student who had his thesis all set up and whatnot, and "Sorry, the professors are taking the machine tonight. And oh, the stuff that you set up, we can use that. We just have to rearrange it."
And this poor fellow saw his experiment taken apart. At any rate, by 4:00 in the morning, they had done the experiment. And Garwin handmade some of the equipment and whatnot. And they disproved the conservation of parity.
Oh my, wow!
The theorists, Lee and Yang, who had theorized it, got the Nobel Prize instantly for it. The experimental proof is in all the nuclear textbooks. That's one of the things that he did in pure science. There’s Fourier Transform. Very few people knew about that. He had never gone around thumping his chest and calling attention to all of these things.
That is true. It brings up the fact that given a chance to speak or to give testimony, he puts great emphasis at the beginning on his own historical basis. But it's not in a sense of bragging or reaching for credit. He just feels that he needs to establish himself. It's an odd quirk. I don’t know quite why.
His communication skills are terrible, roughly speaking.
I finally have learned the secret of interviewing him; now when I ask him the question, I always try to say, "In a nutshell, what …" … if you don't say that… [Doty laughter]
If you say that, you will get a reasonably straight answer. If you don't say that, if you just say, "What was the nonconservation of parity experiment?" … just go. He will just go from one technical piece to another and you will never get through it. He says his children complained about this a lot.
What's happened to his son? I've lost track of him.
I haven't met the son, yet. There are two of them.
There's Tom, and the older son is named Jeffrey.
Oh yes, that's right.
I think — is Tom an historian? I can't remember. I just have him there on the list. Laura is here of course. I think Jeffrey lives in North Carolina. Where Tom is, I'm not sure. I will get to them. I'm very interested in what his family will say. Because Lois, she could be a professor in a university. She has followed these things pretty closely. They came and visited me in Paris in October. He works like the devil. They were there, and of course, they'd been to Paris many, many times. But he had like 12 guidebooks and maps. And they were approaching the city like a couple of 20 year olds running around and doing all these things, and then he'd come back to the apartment and right to the computer, working away on something — actually, it was a paper he was doing with Ramsey. Still going very strong.
That's terrific. What a man.
Good. Well, thank you very much.
Okay, and I will hunt around in my files to see if I can find anything that might be useful. It depends on whether I properly filed things in the first place.
One of the other things that I'm going to do is to … [End of recorded material]