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Credit: Cornell University
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In footnotes or endnotes please cite AIP interviews like this:
Interview of Maury Tigner by David Zierler on February 15, 2021,
Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics,
College Park, MD USA,
For multiple citations, "AIP" is the preferred abbreviation for the location.
In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Maury Tigner, Hans A. Bethe Professor of Physics Emeritus at Cornell. He discusses the origins of the "Handbook of Accelerator Physics and Engineering," and he provides perspective on the prospects of China's contributions for the future of high energy physics. Tigner recounts his childhood as the son of parents in the clergy, and he discusses his undergraduate education in physics at RPI and his interest in working on the betatron. He explains the opportunities that led to his acceptance to the graduate program in physics at Cornell to work under the direction of Bob Wilson and Boyce McDaniel. Tigner explains his decision to remain at Cornell for his postdoctoral research to assume responsibility of the 2.2 GeV Synchrotron, and he describes his initial research at DESY in Germany. He describes his work developing superconducting radiofrequency technology, and the NSF role in supporting this effort. Tigner discusses his work on the design team for the SSC and the impact of the cancellation of ISABELLE, and he narrates Panofsky's decision to replace him with Roy Schwitters. He describes his return to Cornell, and he conveys that despite the structural challenges, there is much to remain optimistic about in high energy physics.
Okay, this is David Zierler oral historian for the American Institute of Physics. It is February 15, 2021. I am so happy to be here with Professor Maury Tigner. Maury, it’s great to see you. Thank you for joining me.
Thank you for having me.
Alright, so to start would you please tell me your title and institutional affiliation?
Well, at the moment I am the Hans A. Bethe Professor of Physics Emeritus at Cornell University.
When were you named Bethe chair?
1993, I think.
It must have been a tremendous honor when you were named to the Bethe chair.
Did you know Hans at all?
Yes, briefly. We had some interactions but not extensive. It was his senior faculty associates, Robert R. Wilson and Boyce D. McDaniel with whom I had the most interactions.
Maury, when did you go Emeritus? What year was it?
Well, it was probably ’94.
And in what ways have you remained connected to the department or physics generally in your retirement?
Oh, I’m sorry. It’s complicated. I was quite ill in 1994 and I had to have very serious surgery. So, I resigned, and it took about three years for me to recover from the surgery. In the meantime, since we figured that I might be close to the end, my wife and I decided to go to China. So, we got an invitation from the Institute of High Energy Physics in Beijing. We went there and stayed for five years. In 1999, I got a call from my former colleagues at Cornell saying, that the then current director of the Lab of Nuclear Studies is retiring. We would like you to be our next director. I said okay and went back, becoming director of the lab in 2000. I retired again in 2012.
(Laughter) Was the 2012 retirement more durable?
Did you have an official affiliation when you were in China?
Yes, we were “Senior Advisors” to the Chinese Academy of Sciences which has its headquarters in Beijing.
Maury, I understand that while in China you became involved in a book project that eventually became the Handbook of Accelerator Physics and Engineering.
That’s right. While I was still in China towards the end of the nineties, I got a communication from a colleague at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Alex Chao. When he was studying under C.N. Yang at SUNY Stony Brook he had a classmate named Phua who eventually became publisher of World Scientific Publishing Co. in Singapore. This classmate asked Alex to write a book on accelerators since that was his specialty. Alex in turn asked me to join him in that task. We talked about it extensively and decided that our field would be best served if we could produce a handbook that would cover all aspects of designing and operating accelerators, focusing on accelerators used for research. The concept that emerged was a book with many articles, each devoted to a subtopic of physics or engineering, each to be written by a world expert in that subtopic. What made this feasible was that Alex and I both knew personally essentially all of the world experts and could address them as friends. Thus, was born the Handbook. The first edition was published in 2003 with a second edition in 2013. There will be a third edition published sometime in 2023 or 4. The first edition was just over 700 pages and had 180 authors. The second edition is 800 pages with about 240 authors. The field has developed very rapidly. Because of this expansion Alex and I recruited two additional editors to help with the work. The third will have four editors as well.
Maury, as you well know in the field of high energy physics, so many questions surround the future of the field and China’s place in it. I’m curious what special insight you may have gotten during your time there?
Well, of course I had my nose rubbed in the fact that the Chinese Communist Party runs everything including physics and it depends very much on who is the chairman of the party. When we were there Jiang Zemin was the chair and he was quite interested in science and his premier was a guy named Zhu Rongji who happened to be a friend of T.D. Lee. T.D. Lee was thus very influential during the reign of Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji. With the new guys in there today I really don’t know much about what’s happening now. It is clear that the fate of important projects in China including physics and particularly high energy physics is dependent very much on who is in charge at Zhongnanhai the headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing. I do know that at the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) they’re still talking about building a huge collider ring. Not in Beijing but out near the tombs and beyond towards the Great Wall. What the possibilities are for that I don’t really know. The one indicator that I do have is that one of my close associates at IHEP who was in charge of accelerator physics quit and is now working at ESRF in Grenoble, France. That may be some indicator although, the experiment that they’re doing at the collider in Beijing is still going strong and there are still American collaborators. I didn’t really answer your question. I think it’s iffy because we’re talking about investing really big bucks and the atmosphere for international collaboration with China isn’t good right now.
Maury, as we get further and further from the death of the SSC, at least in the United States, it seems as if the chances of there being another endeavor of that scale become more and more remote, so a two-pronged question. Do you think there’s ever going to be anything like that anywhere on the planet and if there is, would it most likely be in China?
I think it’s more likely to be in Europe. I think the Europeans are still very keen on high energy physics and they have several proposals on the table about what to do. As you may know, very soon after the collapse of the SSC there was a proposal to build a big linear collider. A super conducting linear collider and the Japanese are talking about doing it as an international collaboration. The U.S. DOE has committed to contribute. There are powerful Diet members in Japan who want Japan to build it. There’s also a location in Japan that really wants to have this machine and that is quite influential in Tokyo. There’re quite a few of my former colleagues who are still very enthusiastic about it and they have high hopes that something will actually happen over the next few years.
Maury, a very broad question and one with theoretical implications. Given that there is this widespread international interest, what are the prospects theoretically that something beyond the Higgs is going to be found at these higher energies?
Well, (laughter) the theorists always have something up their sleeve, as you well know, for example, there is super symmetry and since they’re not seeing it at the LHC, but it’s got to be there, so just go higher. Shoot higher. Of course, the center of mass energy of the international linear collider is not going to start out very high but on the other hand, as we all know it’s much cleaner and all the energy, all the kinetic energy in the collision goes into forming particles. So, that will hopefully give a better probability of seeing something and it will be a much cleaner event to analyze. When you look at an event from the LHC it’s like looking up on a starry night there is just so much stuff there you have to work very hard to figure it out. So, I don't know but I think it’s very likely that--unless we’ve got the completely wrong idea about where we’re going with particle physics and that we should be looking in some other sector completely, I think there’s a good chance that we’ll find something.
Maury, that’s a very important point you raise. The idea that it’s not necessarily bigger and more energy is necessarily better. You’re saying the actual quality of the beam, less static so to speak, it may very well be that there’s stuff that we can see in a cleaner beam?
Yeah- yes. The point is when you make proton- proton collisions you’ve got this distribution function for the internal constituents of the proton. So, naively speaking, when you have an event you don’t really know what the energy was coming into the constituent-constituent collision and so you don’t really how much energy was actually available in the collision for making new particles. Whereas with the e+ e- collision you know exactly what energy is available and that really helps the analysis enormously. And it’s much cleaner ‘cause there’s not all many not interesting interactions that happens when you have a proton-proton collision where they’re gazillions of interactions going on. With the e+ e- you get one or a very few distinguishable interactions and boom it’s there right in front of your very eyes.
Well, that’s something to look forward to.
Maury, let’s take it all the way back to the beginning. I’d like to start first with your parents. Tell me a little bit about them and where they’re from.
My parents were clergy people. My father was a clergyman. My mother also had a degree in theology although she never actually practiced it. My father was from Texas. A subsistence farm in a very poor part of Texas. So, he came from a very poor family. My mother was the child of missionaries and spent some of her teen years as missionary child in Japan. So, she knew a lot about Japan, and had friends there. My parents met while attending St. Lawrence University, a relatively small school in upstate New York. They went from there to Oneonta and eventually to Middletown, New York where I was born. Subsequently my father accepted a call to a church in Canton, NY their college town. And then Pearl Harbor happened, and we moved to New York City area here. He had a parish in a suburb called Mt. Vernon. We stayed there until 1948 or ’49, and then moved to a very small town in central New York.
Tigner is a unique name. What’s the national origin?
Probably northern Europe. The farthest back that we know definitely is that the Tigner brothers who had a packet ship that plied between Liverpool, England, and Baltimore on the east coast of North America. And one of the brothers stayed here beginning in 1795.
Maury, as you were growing up and getting interested in science did you ever engage your parents in spiritual and scientific debates and how these things may or may not have fit together?
Only very, very partly. It was not the kind of discussions that we had. The relationship between my father and science was one that evolved from being rather unfavorable in the beginning. As I understand from my mother, not from him (laughter), he had hoped of course that his boys, I have two brothers, would become clergy people also. And when I expressed very early in life, even when I was in grade school, an interest in technical things it was a great disappointment to him. But my mother took up my cause and she kept him from forbidding me to be involved in that stuff.
Maury, were you a tinkerer as a kid? Did you like to take things apart? Have chemistry sets?
Oh yes. I was very, very fortunate. This is one of the most fortunate things in my life is that I had all kinds of mentors who took a shine to me and wanted to help me understand things and the very first one that I had was a guy down the street from us in Mt. Vernon who actually was an accountant but the loved to do things. He loved to make things and I don’t know how I got in- attracted into his orbit but I did. And I would go over there in the evening perhaps several evenings a week. He would show me how to make things. He had a little work bench down in his basement where he spent his evenings. The one thing that I remember particularly is that he showed me how to build a little electric motor all by myself. That was really terrific. That started me getting very interested and then I built a crystal set. And then there was another gent who was actually one of my father’s parishioners who was a lawyer. He was old enough that he wouldn’t have been drafted into the service and he was very interested in amateur radio and he introduced me to the Amateur Radio Handbook which came out new every year. In those days people built all their stuff themselves so, this handbook was filled with all kinds of pictures and instructions on how to build receivers and transmitters. I just ate that up. And then in ’45, when the solders started coming home, a lot of them who were children of my father’s parishioners came back with all sorts of surplus equipment. Thereby I got all kinds of surplus radio equipment that I could actually figure out how to turn on and pretty soon I have a shortwave radio going and I wasn’t even ten years old then. That was some very exciting stuff. That story continued on through the rest of my life. When we got to our next station, which was where I was started--junior high, there was a man in our very small town, the total population of which was less than one hundred, who was a technician for GE in Syracuse, NY. There GE had a big radar lab. They had all kinds of surplus equipment because they decided to close that lab down. My new mentor was also very much into building electronic equipment so, he got me all kinds of that surplus radio equipment such as, servicing equipment, meters and an oscilloscope. And also showed me about building a very high-class radio receiver. He spent a lot of time with me even though he had a child of his own. In addition, I received perhaps the most powerful influence on my life before college. I was a very brash kid. Extremely brash and I don’t know what inspired me to do this, but I did it. I took the bus into Syracuse and I got a bus from the bus station up to the Syracuse University and I found the physics department and I went in there and I went to the office and I said can I talk to the chairman of the physics department. Can you believe that? I can’t believe now. Anyway, he was a very nice man, Mr. Fredrickson, W.R. Fredrickson. And he was interested in astronomy. I guess we had a very brief chat and he said I think you should talk to another professor. He introduced me to C.H. Bachman, who was, from the looks of his office, a hands-on person. He told me that he had worked at GE during the war. He just sat me down and started explaining about what he did. I think his mind was going around trying to figure out how can I get this kid into this business because he said, you know, I had a very interesting job. My job was to find out why the radar scopes- screens of the radar scopes were getting big black spots in the middle. That was very bad, so then he figured out that there were ions that were being made in the residual gas of the tube and they got accelerated along with the electrons and they were able to actually blast phosphor molecules off the surface. He made a cathode ray tube into a mass spectrometer by putting magnets around the tube so he could move the black spots and thereby he could calculate what the mass of the ions were that were being picked up and accelerated. With this knowledge they were able to put getters in the tubes to trap the ions of these different species. Then he said, well, you can do the same thing at home. He said ‘you can get a big TV tube. Why don’t you just ask some local company that repairs TV sets for a TV tube and then you can build a magnet just like I did and then you can make yourself a mass spectrometer at home’. So, I was really excited by that and he gave me a copy of his book, Experimental Electronics which was published in about’53. That’s been a treasured possession ever since. I really ate that up and so I went home all charged up and I wrote to various companies, would you give me some magnet wire? Would you give me some magnet iron? Would you give me a TV tube? And they all were excited to deal with a high school student who was very interested in science and engineering. They were all very helpful.
Maury, based on your grades and you family economic situation and your desire to stay close to home or not what kind of schools did you apply to for undergraduate?
Oh, well, I was interested in going to a school, like RPI or MIT or something.
A technical school?
Technical school but- or at least going to a university where I could study science. I thought about Cornell actually, but we didn’t have any money. My father, being a pastor of a very small country church, just didn’t have any money, so it was up to me. Interestingly enough all three of us boys, we knew we were going to college but there was no discussion of how that was to happen, so it was left up to us and we did it. Eventually all of us got PhDs. So, it turned out that in the town, where I went to high school lived a family that owned a company that built pumps used mostly in marine service of one sort or another. They had two boys who were very, very smart. The boys had gone to a little school down on Long Island called Webb Institute of Naval Architecture. The unique thing about Webb Institute was that, if you were accepted, they paid everything. Your tuition, your room and board. The only thing you have to take care of was your own medical expenses. The pump company family encouraged me to apply for Webb which I did and was accepted. There was no question but what this should be the first step in my college education. So, I went and I started studying naval architecture and marine engineering. As part of that I got to work in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, I got to go to sea, and I learned a lot of things there which stood me in good stead. I learned to do arc welding, I could work in the machine shop or a wood shop, and I knew quite a bit about constructing electronics. So, that gave me a leg up in this school. At the end of my second year I got a summer job at Electric Boat Company in Groton CT that builds submarines. It had been realized at Electric Boat that, since submarine hulls are basically figures of revolution, the equations of motion for a sub might be derived from those for airships. My job was to work on deriving the coefficients for the terms carrying the properties of the medium in which the vessel was immersed. This turned out to be quite interesting. By that time, I realized from my experience with having gone to sea and worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Electric Boat that a ship building career was not for me. At that time the only ships being built in the U.S. were military ships as most civil ship building was being done in Europe or Scotland where post war wages were much less than those in the U.S. One could always work on repairing ships or building fighting ships but that had no appeal for me. Then, another amazing accident happened to me very shortly thereafter. I was sitting there innocently doing my homework when one of the guys in the class ahead of me sort of drifted in. He said, you know, Maury, I’ve been studying about magneto hydrodynamics and I see that it’s really exciting stuff. Why don’t we go to RPI and study Physics? Well, I figured it’s a nutty idea but let’s give it a try. So, one weekend we got in his car and drove to Troy, New York where RPI is located. It turned out that the Dean of Admissions happened to be in his office on that Saturday, so we went in there plunked ourselves down, and told him who we were and where we came from and would they take us on as students and he said, “Well, you know, you’re lucky. We’ve had lots of students from Webb Institute, and they’ve all done very well, so you’re on.” But the other big thing was: how am I gonna pay for this because my parents couldn’t help at all. However, in those days’ college tuition was $800 a year and, of course, that sounded like a lot to me but it’s not something that was totally out of reach if you have a summer job and then work part-time as a student.
Right, even adjusted for inflation it’s a bargain compared with today.
Absolutely, absolutely, so I signed up. I paid my first year’s tuition with money that I’d earned from when I went to sea. In addition, my father had been very keen on having me make money during high school years and save it. So, I had been able to grow and sell crops. Every year I would rent an acreage from somebody and then I would grow something. One year I had a contract with a farmer to grow popcorn. Another year I grew white kidney beans and another year I did ornamental “Indian” corn. Also, I had a hive of bees and sold comb honey. From all this I made some money. I put it in the bank and in those days, savings banks actually paid interest. It’s shocking isn’t it? And so, I had enough for my first year’s tuition, and I could get a start on room and board. And yet again I got a lucky break. The very first semester, the very first class I went to was a class in E and M. And at the end of the class the professor said, “We have a technician job available in our lab to help with putting together an accelerator and if anybody’s interested you can come to my office after class.” Well, it turned out that almost everybody in that class went to his office because it sounded so attractive. Naturally he was sort of overwhelmed and said, well, I guess I’m gonna have to go around the group and you have to tell me what you’ve done, what would be your qualifications for being a technician. So, of course I had it hands down because of my machine shop and electronics and Navy Yard experience. So that’s what got me into the accelerator business. It was really a totally crazy thing. RPI had gotten a betatron that had originally been at GE and GE gave it to, I think it was Virginia Tech and Virginia Tech was done with it. They weren’t interested in it anymore, so they gave it to RPI. The company they hired- that RPI hired, to transport the betatron from Blacksburg to Troy was not very competent. The betatron lab was down two floors below ground. There was a big freight opening that gave access to the accelerator pit. The transport company had a crane on their truck and they were gonna lift the betatron up and then slowly let it down into the pit. Well, it turned out that they didn’t strap it correctly and it slipped off the hook, so this whole betatron went crashing down to the basement below, shattering everything on its way. The betatron was made out of extremely fine laminations because it ran at 180 hertz, so in order to avoid eddy current problems you have to have these very thin laminations. They must have been of order 4 miles thick. Thus, there were zillions of these laminations all over the floor. My job was to help them reassemble the core and get it mounted properly but then, of course, there was all kinds of damage to pole surfaces. Each one of the laminations was stamped with a particular profile on it to make the right field for confining and accelerating the beam in the betatron. Those pole surfaces were gashed terribly and as a result the betatron would not work because there were electrical connections between the laminations along the gashes. Each lamination had been oxidized in such a way that it would not conduct electricity, and the laminations were thereby insulated one from another. There were thousands of laminations here. So, I had to etch out the inter lamination spaces. This was down in this pit, right, no ventilation and I was given a bottle of nitric acid and a dropper and I went in there and I would etch away where the laminations were scored over by having fallen down. And I would get these headaches. This in the day before anybody worried about any of this kind of stuff and we were using carbon tetrachloride all over the place and you know, it’s amazing anybody lived through all these practices.
Maury, just to interject at this moment. The illness that you suffered in your fifties; did you connect that at all to your exposure earlier in your career?
It turned out that my illness was a bone spur in my cervical vertebrae which was pressing into my spinal cord, so I don’t think it had anything to do with bad ventilation in the pit. Somebody suggested that it might have been some kind of an accident that I had as a youngster, but I don’t remember any accident that had impinged on my neck. I think it was just that these bone spurs started to grow and so, what they had to do is open me up like a football and go in there with a Dremel tool and grind away these bony things (laughter). They’re beginning to grow back now so I’m still beginning to have a little bit of pain but I’m eighty-four, so I think I’ll be able to make it to the end without having to have it opened up again.
Besides, the surgeon that did me was extremely skillful and he’s retired now.
Well, let’s go back to the lab and your exposure to these dangerous chemicals.
Okay, I learned about and really got interested in accelerators. I worked in this lab for my junior and senior years and really enjoyed having this experience. My RPI mentor strongly advised me to apply for grad school in physics. I was able to get into Cornell. Perhaps it may have been partly because I expressed an interest in accelerators and Bob Wilson who was a very prominent member of the physics department was an accelerator guy from A to Z. Now something that started out unhappily for me turned out to be just the break I needed. I was a teaching assistant for the first year and somehow incurred the displeasure of the professor that was running the course and he fired me. I needed an assistantship because of the tuition support that went with it in addition to a small salary. So, I went immediately to the department chair, at that time Dale Corson, who eventually became eighth President of Cornell, and told him what had happened. He just picked up the phone and called Bob Wilson to see if he had a job for me. He did and I began working on accelerators my very first year of grad school. It might be noted that Dale Corson also did some accelerator work himself. He built the vacuum system for the first synchrotron that was built at Cornell beginning in 1946.
And what was Wilson working on? What was the exact project at that time?
Right after the war the experimental physicists returning from Los Alamos built one of the first synchrotrons ever. At first it didn’t work. Fortunately, Bob Wilson, who had been recruited away from Harvard by Hans Bethe, arrived just in the nick of time to figure out why the accelerator wasn’t working and got beam in ’49. Soon thereafter Bob did as he had learned from Earnest Lawrence, his mentor at Berkeley, and began designing the next larger synchrotron to have beam at 1.4 GeV in contrast to the 300 MeV of the first machine. The faculty and technical staff had put the machine together in such a way that the pole pieces of the bending magnets could be replaced. Just then Courant, Livingston and Snyder published the principle of strong focusing in Annalen der Physik. Immediately Bob picked up on this and the Cornell 1.4 GeV machine was the first strong focusing synchrotron in the world. By the time I arrived in 1958 Wilson was already designing the next machine which was to be 2.2 GeV.
And, Maury, what were some of the theoretical underpinnings at that time? What were you looking for? What were the theorists interested in?
Oh, this was just before any structure in the proton had been discovered.
There was great interest in quantum electrodynamics. Every time there was a boost in beam energy, they wanted to do another round of experiments relevant to quantum electrodynamics such as pair production.
And what year are we talking about roughly? ’61? ’62? Like that?
Well, I started there in 1958, so it would have been very shortly thereafter. So, it would have been ’59 or ’60.
And the theory people were trying to figure out if they could see anything wrong with QED and one of the guys, Tom Kinoshita, spent his whole career calculating more decimals on the fine structure constant and things of that nature. This was really the golden age of particle physics when substructure of the nucleons was manifested in the resonances and one measured the form factors of the nucleons. Hans Bethe and his associates were beginning to get interested. Bethe particularly worked with Wilson when he was measuring the form factors. Other theorists were interested in phenomenology and things that we might be able to see with the synchrotron. So, there was pretty good discussion between the experimenters and the theorists to guide what experiments were needed next.
Maury, just to zoom out for a second. Entering Cornell in 1958, I’m curious if Sputnik had a palpable effect on science funding and the general excitement about physics-
Well, it sure did.
-when you started being a graduate student.
It sure did. I remember when Sputnik was launched. This was when I was still a student at RPI. We all re-tuned our radios so we could pick up the beep, beep, beep, as it went over and we would go out at night when the sky was clear and watching it go overhead. I remember that very clearly and the excitement and it certainly did have a positive influence on funding and science and of course, when Kennedy decided that we were gonna put a man on the moon that really opened up the flood gates on money (laughter). By that time my father had a parish on Long Island not too far from Brookhaven. Some of his parishioners worked at Brookhaven, so he asked them, said what are you working on now? And they said we’re gonna put a man on the moon (laughter), which I thought was really odd for Brookhaven but at the time I was not aware of the wide spectrum of research done there. Sorry, I’m digressing.
No, not at all. That’s- it’s an important point to make.
Let me put it in a contrasting statistic. The year I graduated from RPI, 1958, only ten percent of the guys in my class found jobs. The next year jobs were jumping all over the place and it was very easy for people to get work. I think that was part of what influenced me actually to go to grad school. I do remember, though, my father was sort of disgusted. He said, “Look, you got a degree now. You got enough to make a living with. What do you need any more education for?” He just didn’t get the idea of doing science, but he came around to it before he died. He died young, unfortunately, but before that he got very interested in every technology I knew. We could actually have a good discussion and he wanted to know who the important companies were. Maybe he would like to invest in them, etc.
Maury, was Wilson ultimately your thesis advisor?
Yes, he was my thesis advisor. But he was extremely busy so actually the associate director of the lab, Boyce McDaniel guided my work.
He actually did everything to guide me through. I built a little storage ring for my thesis. It was extremely difficult to get it to work. I had designed this thing according to the principles I could read about in the books. It was envisioned to be a very small machine, even smaller than the very first e+ e- machine in Italy called AdA. The beam energy was to be about 300 MeV. I decided to copy the design of the zero-gradient synchrotron in Argonne because that was the easiest thing for me to do in terms of machining the pole pieces, so that’s what I did. And, of course, there was no instrumentation to speak of because there was practically no space for it. That’s why big accelerators are much easier to get working than small ones. There’s room for instrumentation so you can figure out why it’s not working. Well, anyway, Boyce McDaniel and it turned out a student of his, Helen Edwards, whose name you may have heard, also helped me try to get a beam on orbit. I made a little vacuum insertion that could poke down between the bending magnets and then I could put a little scintillator in there to look for beam passage. Injection was quite complicated, emulating the way the Frascati folks did by utilizing pair production in a target just off the beam orbit. We took a gamma ray beam from our synchrotron, shined it into my little accelerator to a target and, pairs would be made in there and we’d capture either the electrons or the positrons depending upon the polarity of the magnet. This was really wild because I built this thing in a garage that was outside the lab by fifteen meters or so where formerly there had been a cloud chamber. That garage was a great place to work but it was not connected with the rest of the lab except by an indoor pedestrian walkway. There was no indoor beam path from the synchrotron. We had to shoot the beam through the wall of the synchrotron building across this courtyard and then through the garage door into my little storage ring. Aiming the beam just exactly right to hit the tiny little tungsten wire, inside the ring was about ninety-nine percent of the whole challenge. In those times the way we found the beam was to make a guess and put up a Polaroid camera that had a sheet of lead in front of the film pack and then develop the film and see whether there was a spot. If there was no spot, you know you hadn’t guessed right. If you found a spot you knew approximately where it was. Then you could make a collimator of lead to zero in with the precision that you needed. That took hours of playing around just to get the beam into the garage and more or less the right place. And then there could be all sorts of other things wrong. We finally got a few electrons to circulate four times, McDaniel said this is it. You’re done. Write your thesis. So, I did.
Maury, what were the central conclusions of your thesis?
Well, what I really did was write up the design in gory detail and then I simply told about looking for the beam and showed pictures. One of the reasons that Helen Edwards was involved was that she was the lab expert on taking fast photographs. In those days a really fast photograph was ten nanoseconds. That was really pushing it. The most expensive Tektronix scope we had had maybe ten nanoseconds per square. Maybe we got down to one nanosecond. I can’t remember exactly, the circulation time in my little ring of course, since it was only about ten or twelve feet around or ten or twelve nanoseconds. She was actually able to catch on the camera four blips from the scintillator and that was it. That was the result which McDaniel declared was sufficient to get the degree and Wilson never objected. He just accepted it because by that time he was off and running at designing Fermilab or at least proposing something like Fermilab. He was into national politics in a big way.
Was Wilson at your defense?
Yes, he was.
After you defended what were the most exciting opportunities for you? What post docs were available and compelling for you to consider?
Yeah, good question. I had worked at Brookhaven a couple of summers when I was a grad student and they made me an offer. In addition, we had had a visit from Hans Otto Wüster, the man who was in charge of accelerators at DESY. He said, “we’d really like to have you come and spend a year with us at DESY.” So, I had those two opportunities. I didn’t tell anybody about it. I would just let it sort of percolate for a while wondering whether I would really prefer to stay at Cornell if I could.
And Maury, you’re single at this point. There’s no spouse to think about with these decisions?
No, I got married very early. I got married in 1960 and my degree was 1962, so by the time I graduated we even had a baby.
My wife had been an assistant professor at Cornell. One day a senior professor came to me in the hall and said, “Well, Maury, I think you really need to leave Cornell.” So, then I said, “Okay, ‘cause I got a job at Brookhaven and one at DESY. I’ll have to figure out which one to pick.” He said, “Oh, well maybe we’d like to have you stay here.” So I did stay and assumed the responsibility for the rf system of the 2.2 GeV Synchrotron. Before going on with the development of the 2.2 GeV rf system I should pay homage to the enormous help I got from Stanford rf experts. They were very kind to me in answering questions and teaching me how to do microwave measurements and design and build cavities. Back to Cornell and the 2.2 GeV rf system. Because UHF TV was just coming along one could get klystrons at these frequencies, a 433 MHz klystron was chosen for the final amplifier and a ? /2 traveling wave disc loaded waveguide as the “cavity”. This was a great simplification over the previous systems which used low frequencies and had the final push-pull amplifier tubes inside the cavity with a quartz tube carrying the beam through the cavity beamline. Damping parasitic modes which destroyed the expensive amplifier tubes was very challenging. Since the TW cavity needed to be short, ~ 1.5 m long, I made the circuit a ring resonator to avoid the losses from the backward traveling wave should I have made it simply resonant. This was a first for a synchrotron rf system which was later emulated elsewhere. In addition to building the 2.2 GeV rf system, I spent some time thinking about the future. Because of the fourth power law for synchrotron radiation the was obviously a limit to the energy one could achieve with an electron synchrotron. What to do about that? One step had already been conceived at Princeton by G.K. O’Neill – colliding beams of equal and opposite momenta. Conservation of momentum allowed that the total kinetic energy of the beams would be the equivalent of a much higher single beam energy hitting a target in the lab. Even storage ring colliders are subject to the fourth power rule so another stratagem would eventually be needed. For this I invented the linear collider. The downside here is that the linear accelerator accelerating the beam is subject to significant power loss in the walls to support the field such that only a fraction of the rf power goes into the beam. The way out here is to use superconductivity for the linac. That technology was just beginning to be developed at Stanford. Most fortunately I was able to collaborate with Perry Wilson at the Stanford High Energy Physics Lab in developing SCRF technology. It took a decade of work before we could actually put SC cavities into our synchrotron for a critical test. But there is still a problem. With the linear collider, most of the beam power goes into beam dumps at the collision region, wasting most of the beam power. To sidestep this, I invented the idea of the energy recovery linac in which the beam power is returned to the stored energy in the accelerating cavities and used over again. The linear collider and ERL ideas were published in the Feb. 1965 issue of Nuovo Cimento. Just as the 2.2 GeV synchrotron was coming on, Bob Wilson was designing and getting approval for a 10 GeV electron synchrotron to be placed in a purpose-built tunnel about 50’ under the Alumni Field at Cornell. As soon as prototype components started development, I was assigned to make the rf system for the new machine. Commensurate with the size (almost a half mile circumference) we needed four about equally spaced accelerating stations around the ring. The best bid for the four amplifier stations was by a company located then in Dallas TX. The accelerating cavities were again disc loaded structures, this time with 2?/3 phase advance. They were about fifteen ft long with very slow group velocity adjusted with magnetic coupling holes in the discs. This was Vietnam war time so getting the OFHC copper needed was a challenge. The rough cavity shapes were forged, and a local machine shop finished the cells and a local hydrogen brazing firm fastened them into approximately four ft sections to be bolted together using stainless steel flanges. The system worked! First beam in 1967, the year that Bob Wilson left for Fermilab with B.D. McDaniel assuming the Directorship. I was appointed as Manager of the 10GeV facility. By 1973, operation had stabilized enough that we could put a short S-band, superconducting niobium standing wave cavity into the synchrotron to check performance under “battle conditions”. It worked well and was able to accelerate the beam, by itself, up to 3 GeV. Shortly thereafter I was allowed to take up my long-delayed visit to DESY.
Was this you first trip to Europe?
No, when I studied naval architecture I shipped out and went around the Mediterranean. I was in Spain and Malta, Italy, Turkey and Greece. I’d never been to northern Europe, though, but I had been to England and Armenia. Following the invitation, we went to live in Hamburg for a year.
And what were your impressions of DESY when you first arrived? What was it like for you?
I was very favorably impressed. The lab was very friendly, and everybody spoke English. It was not a problem because many of the users were people from abroad who were English speakers and very few of them spoke German. So, it was pretty easy for me. Where it was difficult for was my wife and children because we wanted the children to go to the neighborhood school. We wanted them to have the full experience of living in a foreign country. But, of course, my wife had to figure out how to buy groceries because in the grocery store nobody spoke English. So, she learned pretty fast the names of all the vegetables and of the things that she needed to run the household. It was really a great experience.
Maury, what was your first collaboration? What project did you join when you got to DESY?
Oh, I was put in the synchrotron division, where their main job was operations. I consulted with them. There were lots of technical problems that I was able to help them solve. In particular with the RF system and control systems. I didn’t find that particularly challenging or interesting. So, I spent time thinking about other types of accelerators. Another group at DESY was actually building their first storage ring to do colliding beam physics. This got me thinking about what Cornell should be doing for the future since the future of the electron synchrotron was highly uncertain. Then, another big lucky break happened. Bjorn Wiik was enticed to come to DESY and he got there and immediately we were buddies.
Where did he come from? Where was Bjorn coming from?
At that time, he was working at Stanford.
Although he was a Norwegian, he studied at Uni. Darmstadt] where he got his degree in nuclear physics. Then he got into particle physics and went to Stanford and worked at SLAC for a while. He was interested in bringing bigger and better accelerators to DESY, so he and I did some preliminary design work on something that eventually became a storage ring they called PETRA Because of this I had become rather well known around DESY. The then director of DESY, Herwig Schopper, you may have known-
-offered me a job. And of course, that helped me out with Cornell too.
A job meaning you were there as a postdoc, but he was offering you a staff position?
Yes, right. And I of course told my wife and kids about this and my daughter put her foot down?
How old was your daughter at the time?
Well, let’s see. She was in the fifth grade.
Ah-ha, so the idea was-
And she said-
-they could tolerate Hamburg as a temporary situation but you were asking them if they could do it long term?
Right. She did love her school, though, because of her teacher. Her teacher was going to teach German to this girl come what may. So, while the German children were having their English lessons, she was having a German lesson. We became great friends with this teacher, Frau Rothgart. She came to visit us in America on the occasion of my daughter receiving her nurse’s cap from Loyola Nursing School in Chicago.
Maury, how long did you ultimately stay at DESY?
Just the one year, 1974. We did come back again for another year in 1993.
Maury, did you sense that there was job for you waiting at Cornell or did you work that out from Germany? How did that all play out?
Well, I had a research associate ship waiting for me when I came back from DESY. That was agreed before I left. And so, I resumed being Manager of the synchrotron. By that time the ten GeV synchrotron was in operation and we had users from all over. The manager’s job was a big one. I had to understand the users’ needs, the technology, and had to understand the staff. At that time, we employed about one hundred people to maintain and operate the half mile circumference synchrotron. [BREAK]
Part of my job was to think about the future too. So, I was thinking about the future in two-prongs. It was manifest that building another electron synchrotron made no sense because by then Fermilab could do the same experiments we could at much higher energies.
After my experience at DESY it was natural to think about building an e+e- collider in the same tunnel as the synchrotron, an “upgrade”. Trouble was that the DOE was at the same time proposing to build and even bigger, higher energy storage ring e+e- collider. The lore they were promoting at the time was that only a big linac could inject into such a collider because the then technology was such that one could have only one bunch circulation and bunch counter circulating in the ring so that the bunches would only meet twice. To have respectable luminosity one needed a large current, say one hundred mA. Since we had only a synchrotron with which to inject, it appeared superficially that we were automatically out of the running even though our synchrotron could accelerate sixty bunches of respectable total current. Not to be so quickly defeated, however, I gave the matter some thought. Before long the solution occurred to me: build the storage ring with a circumference larger than the synchrotron and being an integral number of wavelengths of the synchrotron rf system larger. Accelerate a sixty-bunch beam in the synchrotron and inject all sixty bunches into the storage ring. Then, using a very fast kicker, eject one of the sixty and reinject in the synchrotron. After a number of circuits in the synchrotron that bunch will have caught up with the bunch ahead of it in the storage ring. Then using a fast kicker reinject that bunch into the storage ring a bit off orbit. Shortly, synchrotron radiation would damp the oscillations and that reinjected bunch would merge with the bunch that was ahead of it. Repeat this process until all sixty bunches were merged. This idea got good play in the community, so we put in our proposal to the NSF. The committee of high energy physicists that advised both the DOE and NSF reviewed the DOE proposal for a higher energy machine together with ours. The nod was given to the higher energy machine. Of course, this disappointed us to say the least. Nevertheless, the community was so taken with our idea for injection that the then Director of SLAC, W.K.H. Panofsky wrote to the NSF recommending that they fund our proposal. Thanks to the then Director of the NSF Physics Division who worked very hard and effectively on it, they did. We got our first beam in 1978. Just then, Leon Lederman et al, working at FNAL, found the Upsilon particle. Knowing the mass, we went straight there on early runs of the storage ring CESR and there it was as well as other resonances nearby. All this work sort of paid for itself immediately. The injection scheme worked with some unanticipated difficulties of course. However, one of the Cornell faculty, Raphael Littauer, came up with a brilliant idea allowing us to have multiple bunches in the ring but having only one or two collisions per bunch per rotation in the ring. He put electrostatic separators at just the right places in the ring so that the equilibrium orbits of the two beams were displaced in opposite directions in a closed pattern. By this means the Cornell Electron Storage Ring, CESR achieved the highest luminosity of any storage ring collider at the time.
Maury let’s segue into some further discussion of your work on developing superconducting radiofrequency (RF) technology
It was clear that superconductivity was the way to go for the future. I was extremely fortunate in that both Wilson first and then McDaniel, who became his successor as director of the lab, put a lot of money into my lab for working on superconducting RF. This was despite the pressure to put the money into particle experiments. They held firm ‘cause they understood this principle that if you can’t improve the efficiency of the RF systems we’re not gonna go to higher beam energies. Even that alone would require more power abut in addition the cross sections would be going down requiring more beam power too. So, I put a lot of effort into that. I was able to because he gave me significant money. He was giving me a million dollars a year. Back then that was really something. The Lab of Nuclear Studies, which was what it was first called, was originally funded by the Navy and then with the Mansfield Amendment we had to shift to the NSF which was much more competitive but still OK back then. They’ve since gotten very down on accelerators. But we don’t have to go there. So, I was able to hire some really smart guys to help develop super conducting RF science and technology.
Maury, how many people were you able to hire with that budget?
I had three people in the beginning. One really topnotch engineer, one guy who had gotten his PhD in super conductivity, and another guy who’d been a really good student at the cyclotron lab at Carnegie Mellon. Those guys were really good. The engineer who had worked at the Princeton-Penn accelerator knew a lot about RF to start with so that was not a problem for him. The other guys learned about it on the job, so to speak. The guy from Tufts got his degree working on superconductivity. He learned about microwaves very quickly. His name is Hasan Padamsee. He came from India. He got his undergraduate degree at an Indian university. He did a lot at Cornell to develop super conducting RF for accelerators. Hasan, now retired, really put us on the map with his very hard work and extremely clever ideas. The man from CMU was also very good but he, along with others whom I later hired, got stolen away to help start Jefferson Lab. Jefferson lab wanted to use superconducting rf, sort of copying us, but they didn’t have experienced people to do it. That was just about the time that I myself was recruited to go to Berkeley to help design the SSC, leaving Hasan and Joe Kirchgessner, the Princeton-Penn engineer, to forge on by themselves at Cornell. They did an outstanding job.
Maury, what were some of the big questions surrounding RF engineering? Best case scenario what would this work produce?
Well, the big problem was, of course, as you went to higher and higher energies you need more and more power. And the efficiency of the RF systems that were being used when I first started with this was very poor. In terms of the amount of, wall plug power that went into the beam was maybe a few percent. It was really terrible. So, one of the steps- one of the objectives was to find more efficient power amplifiers and more efficient accelerating cavity designs. A big help on the efficiency front was to adopt klystrons in the UHF TV band. Their efficiencies range up to sixty-five percent in comparison to the gridded tubes formerly used with efficiencies less than thirty percent. Regarding cavity designs adoption of the disc loaded waveguide as used in linacs was the answer if one needed to use normal conducting materials like copper. Since much of the power was absorbed by ohmic losses in the walls it was clear, as already noted, that superconducting technology was a necessity as only a tiny fraction of the power was needed to excite the accelerating field. Ultimately, the use of the energy recovery linac principle, mentioned above, may be the answer. So, I introduced the UHF TV band klystrons into accelerator RF systems and then we used a disc loaded waveguide arranged in a ring resonator circuit, similar to the stuff I’d learned at Stanford, which were much more efficient at transferring energy to the beam. So, that was a big step forward and then the next step that we saw right away very early on is if we could make the super conducting systems work that would be a tremendous leap forward. Anyway, he’s now retired but he really put us on the map with his very hard work and extremely clever ideas and this other guy was also very good. But he got stolen away by- when Jefferson Lab got started. They, in fact, they stole away several of my guys because they were gonna make super conducting RF too and so they copied us in a way.
Maury, did you sense that you were in a competition at this point and if so, what was the end goal?
Well, yes, we were in a competition of a sort although Jefferson Lab was aimed at nuclear physics and we wanted to work in high energy physics You know, the DOE has considered its stewardship of its labs very important. The NSF does not consider stewardship of labs at all. You know, we take proposals is what they say, so in order to- we understood. Sorry, we got off- we got out of the flow here because one of the other things that I understood from my time at DESY was that we needed to have a storage ring if we’re gonna go anywhere. You know colliding beams are so much better in terms of energy than synchrotrons could possibly be because of the fact that all of the energy is in the center of mass inside of a mass can be used for creating new particles. Whereas, with a synchrotron we have a target that’s in still in the lab. A lot of the energy is wasted trying to just make up the conservation momentum problem. So, with a storage ring you don’t have that problem at all. However, we didn’t have that technology even though I had told them for a thesis (laughter). We didn’t really have the technology of building a real live one and the problem was at that time that you- well, maybe you remember that Harvard and MIT worked jointly to build a synchrotron there in- near Harvard Square and they turned it into a storage ring by a dent of extremely smart ideas from a guy named Pen Robinson who was their accelerator theory guy and Gus W so, eventually he became the director of accelerators at DESY and had come from DESY I think to start with. Gus W was the boss of putting this thing together making it work. So, they actually began to see the rising cross-section at the energy that they could get to and they really wanting to go forward with a higher energy machine. So, they proposed a higher energy machine to the DOE and Stanford got the idea that they were gonna get outpaced if they- Stanford already had their little storage ring, you know. It’s now called SSRL and had found the JSI, but they wanted to build a bigger storage ring and they were afraid that they’d get aced out by these guys at Harvard MIT. So, that was kind of a bitter struggle I must say. And of course, Stanford won and so, there’re big stick was we’ve got the most powerful linac in the world and that’s what you need to inject into a storage ring. Period end of report, so you got to give- we got the linac, give us the storage ring. And they wanted to build at a certain energy. I forget what it was that they were shooting for. Maybe eight GeV beam energy and so- but we saw that we needed a storage ring and- but we only had a synchrotron to inject into a storage ring. So, we had to have an idea. So, that sat there for a while because it was kind of dispiriting that we knew that we wanted to build a storage ring but we couldn’t make a convincing argument that we could fill a storage ring because at that time the lure was that you can only have one beam in the storage ring.
Who was pushing this line? Where did that come from?
Stanford and, you know, it was sort of obvious if you put into it all the assumptions that everybody had at that time. So, they knew that the so-called beam interaction would destroy the beam on the luminosity if you did it too many times. So, the idea was that you should design the machine so that the opposing beams, these positrons and electrons would only meet once at the place where your experimental apparatus was and therefore, you had to really load the storage ring up with big fat bunches to get the luminosity that you needed in order to do the interesting physics. So, that was the picture in everybody’s mind. You had to have one punch in this beam, and it had to be a big fat bunch and you couldn’t do that with a synchrotron, period. You can make lots of bunches. So, the total charge could be as big as- not as big as you want but certainly bigger than what the linac people were talking about for their single bunch. So, I got thinking about this. What can we do with the synchrotron? We knew we got to get that charge in there somehow into a single bunch. So, then I was sitting in my office one day and it came to me exactly what to do. You put the storage ring around this outside of the synchrotron and its circumference is exactly an equal number of wavelengths of the RF that drives the synchrotron and then you would use that same RF frequency for the RF system in the storage ring. So, here’s how it would go. You would have, in our case, we have sixty bunches in our synchrotron. You take one bunch out of the synchrotron and shoot it into the storage ring then you would take another bunch out and shoot it into the- see how does this work? I’m not even remembering it myself. So, you would then, oh okay, I see how you would do it. You would take the- have a bunch in the sixty bunches in the synchrotron. You would take one out and shoot it around the storage ring and then you would have a very fast kicker to kick it back into the synchrotron and superimpose it on another bunch that’s in the synchrotron and you do this sixty times. So, all sixty bunches end up as one and then you eject that into the storage ring, and you’ve got your one bunch. Then you reverse the polarity of the synchrotron magnets, what a nightmare that was, accelerate the positrons in the other direction and do the same trick. So, that was actually a pretty clever idea, if I do say so myself, and I sold it. We had a contest, you know, that they had- in those times the DOE had only one way of dealing with proposals like this- that they had these so called HEPAP subpanels that would meet and you know, would be like a roman gladiators contest. You know, like gladiator would come in and shoot at each other and then--but so, we made this proposal it was for as not a high an energy as the Stanford people want but we said, okay, we don’t care about that. They can have their higher energy storage ring, but we know we can do valuable physics with whatever energy we pick. I guess it was maybe eight- maybe eight GeV we had--they wanted to have to ten GeV. I don’t remember exactly the details. That could easily be discovered in history and this subpanel- oh, and one of the guys on the subpanel was sort of my opposite in SLAC. He was the guy in charge of the linac I guess. And, John Rees, he was since a good friend and he said Palowsk came- Rictrick came to me- Palowski came to me and said I want you to find out what’s wrong with this idea ‘cause they wanted to of course shoot it down and John Rees said, you know, I spent all month and I couldn’t find anything wrong with it. This was- he told them at the panel were the thing was being judged. Anyway, in the end they decided that SLAC really had to go ahead because they had the higher energy and this was a really great idea and, let’s think about it for the future. So, then afterwards Panofsky wrote a letter to the NFS saying you should build this project because he didn’t really believe that we were competitive for them. And in a sense, we weren’t. I mean they were much bigger. They were able to handle many more users, etc., etc. Well, so then it turned out that the NSF with a very devoted guy who was head of the Physics Division a guy named Marcell Bardon who has now passed on some years ago. He really fought for this for us. Because we’d been a good lab for them, and we’d done really good things with the money they gave us as they saw it and he went out and got the money and we got the permission to go ahead and build the machine. By that time, we had already shown in our synchrotron that we could accelerate a beam with a super conducting cavity, so that was also part of the argument. We had the superconducting technology and we could use that in the storage ring which would be very efficient and so forth. So, we built the machine. We got our first beam in 1978.
You mean that’s when it was completed?
Completed and I think it was in 1979 when we first had collisions, we saw the upsilon particle which had just been discovered by Lederman at Fermilab. And- but we were able to see the other resonances that he wasn’t able to see at first.
Why? Why were you able to see those resonances?
Well, because it was much clearer. He did it with a proton basher and you had to be extremely clever to see the signs of that in the pictures that they got with their detector. Whereas, we had a very clean pictures with our e+ e- and the strength of those residences was much less than the main resonance itself, so you had to have a really clean thing to see it. So, anyway we were able to publish a Christmas that had the three resonances on the front page (laughter).
Maury, who were your key collaborators at this time? Who were you working with mostly?
Well, as I said we had a big staff of- you know, we had 150 people or so and so they were all collaborators in a sense. The really important people, you know, were the guys who did the RF, so that was Hasan and Joe Kirchgessner, guy who had been at Princeton Penn, so he was extremely important. Another guy named Ron Sundilin. He was the guy from Carnegie Mellon. So, those three guys were important collaborators. And the RF systems a really important part of the storage ring because if it doesn’t work right, if it falls out once, you’re dead. You’ve got to then re-inject. And we were looking. If you didn’t have about an hour lifetime you were never gonna accumulate enough data to win the prize. Anyway, so then I had a really good Indian collaborator named Nariman Mistry who had worked with Schwartz et. al. on neutrinos at Brookhaven. He was another senior research associate. Job of doing the vacuum system. We had tried to get the magnets built elsewhere. But at that time, all of the competent companies were completely booked up. Fortunately, we had lots of experience. We had built the magnets for the ten GeV synchrotron and for other earlier accelerators. So, we ended up building all the magnets for the storage ring. B.D. McDaniel and another particle profs. named John DeWire and David Cassel, worked on the magnet construction. We had technicians doing the actual physical construction of the magnets, but the faculty members came over every day before class and after class and made sure that things were proceeding properly. They made sure that the quality control measurements on the laminations were going well. It was really important to keep your eye on everything because companies by that time were beginning to become very unreliable. The camber on the laminations sometimes wasn’t as specified and they cheated on the quality of steel. I mean you just had to keep your eyes open all the time. A very important and very hard lesson that I learned. Anyway, we were at the very last stage of putting the machine together and we didn’t have the interaction region quadrupoles ready. We had built the cores ourselves but didn’t have the capability to wind the coils. For that reason, we made a contract with a firm near Boston that had made similar coils for other machines. I was beginning to get very nervous because they hadn’t shipped, and the contract said they should have shipped six months ago. So, finally I called the guy up who ran the company and I said look, we got to have those quadrupole coils. And he said, well sir, I’m very sad to tell you that we’ve gone bankrupt and tomorrow the vice president of the bank is gonna be here to take over. So, I went and told McDaniel this.
And this was the only supplier? You couldn’t go anywhere else?
Well, it took months to wind these coils. I think we must have had competitive contracts to start with so, yes, there probably were some places in California. You know, we had to turn this machine on and go. The NSF was waiting, you know, times a wasting. So, I went to McDaniel and he said okay, Tigner, here’s what we’re gonna do. You’re gonna do rent a truck. We’re gonna drive down there tonight. Tomorrow morning I’m gonna go in there and distract the vice president of the bank while you put the coils on the truck and then we’re gonna get out of there which is exactly what we did. We got the coils, put it in the machine and away we went.
And they did exactly what you hoped they’d do?
Yep and then it turned out that all this stuff about how you have to have one beam and you had to have this huge bunch was really not true because one of our faculty members, a guy named Rachel Littauer who was also very much interested in accelerators and was also a pioneering controls designer and builder. He observed that by inserting electrostatic separators at crucial spots around the orbit one could change the orbits of electrons and positrons in opposite directions in such a way that multiple bunches never meet except at the crossing point chosen by the designer. So, you could have as many bunches in there as you wanted provided that they didn’t see each other until they got almost to the collision point. Because this long-range beam-beam interaction so called was really very mean and that actually, in the end was limiting the current that we could put in the machine. That idea that Littauer had and then some other ideas from other clever guys had meant that we could get a lot of luminosity out of this thing without having these enormous bunches. We did get this coalescing game as I called it, to work. So, that was glorious but then we discovered almost immediately that it was irrelevant (laughter). But that’s what got the job for us, so it wasn’t irrelevant in the long run.
Maury, orient me in the chronology. What years are we talking about now roughly?
Well, let’s see. We, as I say we had our first beam in 1978. Probably by 1980, we had this idea about the pretzel orbits and were building the equipment to make that happen. I mean this was not so trivial. Because of their physical structure with conducting elements isolated for high voltage they were also liable to have beam induced voltages that could initiate sparking, and get back to the power supplies, wreaking havoc there. So, all this really was just ready to really roll when 1983 came around and the SSC started and I left to go to Berkeley to help design the SSC.
Maury, before we get to that topic, I’m curious during these years if you felt that Cornell had the infrastructure and the funds and the talent to compete with the national labs?
Yes. See one thing that was extremely valuable that we had that the national labs did not have. We had our faculty members who were actually engaged in building the accelerators and the detectors. They didn’t just turn it over to a staff of engineers. There were also very good students engaged as well. From necessity we were all very cost conscious. So, we were able to do stuff for a lot less money than the other labs although they always said that we were cheating. That we must have found money some place from the university.
-which is not true. I did get some funding from the university but compared to the overhead at the big labs it was small.
You’re saying that you were scrappier, and you put that to good effect.
Yes, thank you. Well said.
(Laughter) Alright, what’s the point of connection that gets you out to Berkeley? How were you involved initially? Who asked?
The DOE was on the spot. They really wanted to have a forward-looking program in HEP and the SSC had now been dangled before them. I was not privy to their deliberations but eventually they decided that it was necessary to have a technical study by experts in the field to look at the different ideas being floated. I was asked by the DOE to do that, probably because of our Cornell symposium organized by me. As I was going to have to recruit guys from the labs and academia, I thought that we needed an attractive place to help the recruiting. I had a connection or two at Berkeley and asked then to get me an invitation. The rest is history.
And who was the driving force behind the ISABELLE cancellation discussions? Who was really driving those discussions?
It was a collaborative decision. I mean they were really high-ranking people on the HEPAP subpanel. There was Jim Cronin, Dave Jackson, BJ Bjorken and we had a couple of other senior guys from SLAC as well as Stan Wojcicki the Chair plus two senior CERN men.
And was your sense that the concern was mostly budgetary or was it technical?
Technical. They had spent years trying to build a magnet without success. In the end they finally eased out the guy who was in charge who was just not able to do that job and Bob Palmer jumped into the breach. Bob Palmer, you probably don’t know him but he’s a really brilliant guy. He’s been at Brookhaven many years and he’s always thinking faster than anybody else in the room and making you feel like you’re, you know, knee high to a grasshopper. Anyway, he solved this problem in almost just about a year he had a working magnet. But it was too late. You know, the ship had already left the harbor although everybody admired what he had done. They were- it just didn’t look like Brookhaven was the institution that was gonna pull this off.
So, your sense, Maury, was that the discussions around canceling ISABELLE were very much connected to a broader idea of maintaining momentum—
-in high energy physics and-
Oh, yeah. Oh yeah.
-that’s what got to SSC.
Yes, very much so.
We held a symposium at Cornell which we talked about where the field should go next. So, there was already- in people’s minds there was already the idea for this huge new machine. In fact, Leon Lederman already was advertising what he called the Desertron. This had a tangled etymology having to do with a then popular theoretical picture that nothing new would happen until you got across a “desert” where there was no new physics, as well as the idea that it would be so big that you needed to put it in the desert. So, we had a symposium that had a lot of people from the national labs there and, I showed sketch designs for a thing like this and other people talked. So, these ideas were all floating around in the atmosphere. It wasn’t something that was invented at the HEPAP Subpanel meeting where the SSC was mooted. The name being invented by J.Dk. Jackson- awkward but it stuck. After the HEPAP recommendation to the DOE Fermilab wanted to get into the act and Berkeley wanted to get into the act and Texas wanted to get into the act and they all wanted to come up with competing designs. So, what the DOE did to try to solve this problem was to set up a design study that they called the Reference Design Study somehow, I got asked to be the chairman of this reference design study. I think it was because of our symposium at Cornell. It was clear that we didn’t have any political interest at all in hosting the SSC. So, we were clean, and I got together a bunch of guys from the labs, the experts and we went to Berkeley. They gave us the space to work in and all the infrastructure that we needed. The DOE could not let us alone. They kept coming there to review what we were doing because of the political sensitivity between Fermilab and Brookhaven. You know Leo Letterman, who was then director of Fermilab had been calling for cancellation of ISABELLE for years. So, this was a pretty tense situation and the DOE wanted to make sure that we weren’t playing into any of these political sensitivities and, in fact, they even wanted us to connect our computers to their computers in Germantown. I mean can you believe that. We absolutely refused but that meant that they had people there a good part of the time. It was a real pain in the neck. Don’t quote me on that. So, there was an offering from the people in Texas with their super ferric magnets. There was an offering from Fermilab with their cold iron magnet. There was an offering from Brookhaven with a magnet design and I guess the Berkeley guys opted not to get involved. That is the Berkeley physics people decided not to participate. I forget now exactly why that was. It was a little bit of sour grapes, I think. I think they thought that they should have been given the job of designing this new machine so-
Maury, in terms of the reporting structure for the design phase who would you be answering to you and who would be working for you in this scheme?
Well, in this case, in this reference design study this was not the central design group at Berkley. This was a prelude to that.
So, we reported directly to the high energy physics division of the DOE and the boss at that time was Bill Wallenmeyer and he reported to Bill Hess who was the next level up boss and I wasn’t really the boss of anybody. They were all sent by their labs to help with this reference design study. But they wanted to cooperate, so we could all collaborate, and we could talk about what needed to be done and who was gonna write which part. It was on a volunteer basis. It was very good spirit there. Very good spirit and Berkeley was very good about providing the resource that we needed. We had secretaries. We had computers. We had people helping with writing and editors. It worked out very well. And so, we wrote this Reference Design Study. We gave equal time to each of these designs. We put down the pros and the cons of each of them and left that to a later time for somebody else to worry about sorting it out. We were there just to provide the information. So that each of these proposals that we had for the reference proposals could be turned into a big collider design. They were all different and they all had their peculiarities and we would have to decide in some other venue. In the line of chains of reporting, note that when it was time to set up the Central Design Group at Berkeley, the DOE made a contract with the URA (Universities Research Association) that already had the management contract for Fermilab. Thus, the CDG reported to the Board of Overseers set up by URA. In practice the CDG reported on a detailed basis to the High Energy Physics Div. of DOE.
Maury, to go back to the question of theoretical underpinnings. To what extent was theory involved in these discussions about what was worth doing all of this for in terms of what the results might be?
One of the things that was a really important part of the lure of particle physics at that time was the lure, the culture in which we were immersed it was assumed without question that a higher the energy you can make the better. You’re gonna discover something new, period. And they would point to the past. Every time we made a higher energy accelerator, we found something new and exciting. So, why should we expect it to be different now? Thus, the original idea about the SSC was floated about in backrooms, smoke filled back rooms was forty TeV per beam. But then it- the early--one of the things in reference the design study was supposed to do is make a very back of the envelope cost estimate. So, by the time people started using that back of the envelope formula to cost what it would do to have a forty TeV per beam machine it became clear that it was out of the question (laughter). So, then the question was what energy should we make it and so in a later time, we didn’t come out of the reference design study for any particular energy I don’t think. We just said you can expand this design and we calculated the consequences. You know, the proton synchrotron radiates too when you get up to a high enough energy and it begins to get pretty significant. I mean in the LHC they have to take real provisions for that. It has to be a liner in there do the synchrotron radiation doesn’t strike the cold coils, etc., etc. I’m not exactly sure how this came about but I remember very clearly in my head that Bob Wilson said twenty TeV or bust and that somehow got--worked its way into the system. So, we turned in our referenced design study and the DOE received it with thanks.
And this is all before there’s a site that’s chosen? This is all before Texas is decided?
Oh, long before there’s a site chosen.
This was in 1983 or ’84 and there wasn’t a site chosen until ’90 or something. Anyway, so then the DOEs job was to figure out what they were gonna do with this report and I guess they were--the high energy division was keen on pushing forward with it. You know, keep up the momentum because you know, ISABELLE wasn’t gonna happen. The Europeans were talking- already talking about something like the LHC. So, we figured we got to get moving. So, their brilliant solution to this was to have a design study (laughter). Again, in which all the labs would participate if they wanted to. Although, you know, whoever was going to be in charge of this central design group was gonna have to really recruit people that he or she wanted. I think, Burton Richter was maybe offered the job, Panofsky was offered the job. I forget who else was offered the job and none of them wanted anything to do with it ‘cause they were electron guys but they didn’t dare ask anyone from FNAL or BNL -that would cause an explosion. So, since I had shown some interest in this project and I was politically neutral they finally offered the job to me. So, then I had to get out there and start recruiting because we had to move on a fast time scale. The very first I tried had been the chair of the HEPAP subpanel that had made this momentous decision to recommend the SSC. He was Stan Wojcicki from Stanford, who was a particle physics professor there and was a user of Fermilab. I very much admired his capabilities. I mean that was a really tough decision particularly since the panel was not unanimous and we happened to have Carlo Rubbia and John Adams as members of that panel. They’re from CERN and of course they were against it. They said you got to build ISABELLE since you committed yourselves to do it. They may well have been already thinking about making a very much bigger proton collider themselves. Subsequent evidence certainly showed that to be the case. And they were not considered as- since they were courtesy members of the panel or something, so they couldn’t veto anything. So, we had around and around. We had breakout sessions and crying sessions and there were tears. I mean this was really brutal thing because, you know, we were talking about doing something awful to colleagues of ours. Well, finally we got everybody to say- everybody voted yes, and the CERN guys abstained as I remember it. They certainly didn’t vote for it. So, the deed was done. And I admired Stan in getting this through because at one stage we quit. We went home and he called- we got called back again because you know we just had to come to some kind of a decision. Anyway, he did all this, and I thought he’d be a great guy to be my deputy. So, I got on a plane and I went out there and I called him up. I called him before I flew, of course and said I want- I’d like to talk to you Stan. I didn’t tell him why. I don’t think I did anyway. So, I went out there and he invited me to dinner at his house. So, I went there, and I talked with him after dinner. I told him, Stan we got to do this and you’re as guilty as I am (laughter). I really would like to have you as a deputy director. I know we need your skills and your knowledge and your energy. So, he got his wife to agree. He never moved to Berkeley. He drove down there every day. There were other people from Stanford that we had also who drove down there from Stanford every day. But that’s okay they did it and it was only a finite length of time and then I had my deputy director. I also wanted another person to take charge of the actual writing of the design ‘cause this was gonna be a big deal. In the end the design books were stacked like this.
The real book was only this thick, but it was a huge job. So, anyway I was very fortunate when I went out to see J. D. Jackson (Berkeley physics prof, author of the most used graduate text on E&M) and he agreed to work with us for the duration of the making of the design. So, that was terrific. You know, so and then I got some really good people to be in charge of the different, you know, the magnets, the RF, the vacuum system, the detector stuff and we had a group that ended up making up specifications on site because they told us, I mean we were strictly charged by the DOE. You don’t pick a site. We will pick the site, but we don’t want you to tell us what we should be looking for which was fine. So, we had a division. He’s the guy who led that division of Isabel at BNL (laughter), and his principle assistant was a guy named Tim Toohig. Did you know about Tim Toohig?
He was a Jesuit priest who lived at a boy’s school, a Jesuit boys school near Fermilab, so most of the time he worked at Fermilab. He sometimes taught courses at Boston College. He was a terrific guy. He worked with Jim Sanford on the site business. They worked very hard and consulted with all kinds of people and they just did a terrific job writing up the site specs including the infrastructure you needed to have in the area. What kind of technical facilities that you should be having close by and so forth and so on. So, then we- I got a very good guy from SLAC to be the head of the accelerator theory, Alex Chao. I still work with. He and I did the first edition of the Handbook of Accelerator physics by ourselves.
And I got some- a couple of guys from Cornell and we got a brilliant guy from University of Maryland who was an expert in Lie algebras. Now, you’ll say well, what the heck has that got to do with accelerators (laughter). That’s what I asked too but it turned out that, you know, this was- building such a huge thing you got to understand how it works and what the stability limits are, etc., etc. And you have to include all of the components and what would be even better is include a statistical distribution of the errors that you’re gonna see in each of these components. Well, the thing about Lie Algebra was that you can make maps and he- and one of his brilliant students was working hard to figure out how to make Lie maps of this accelerator. And eventually that paid off. I think it didn’t come for this first phase of the concept design if you want to call it that. But later on, they actually developed a calculating technology, if I could call it that, that includes all of the errors that you were going to expect and then you could make another map. You know, make a statistical study of, how stable is this? Suppose I go to a slightly different distribution of errors. Is it gonna still be okay or do I have to really watch my step, etc.? So, we did that kind of stuff. It was very exciting. We had- we also had an engineer- an engineering division for the magnets. And we got a guy from Livermore who’d been an engineer on one of the big fusion projects the so called MFTFB. One of these beautiful projects that cost several billion dollars and the DOE never allowed them to turn it on. They “put it in moth balls” before they were allowed to throw the on switch (laughter). Unfortunately, not a unique happening. Okay, so I had other people from Fermilab who managed certain parts of the logistics, control systems, you know, the whole nine yards and these people worked together quite well. And we--since we were almost an academic group, we actually had seminars every Friday afternoon and we had people in to tell us about the latest developments in particle physics and other interesting things. Even theory, we had some guy come in and explain Barry phases to us, and we had guys talking about superconductivity and interesting beam physics. So, it was a lovely bunch and we worked together very well. We got this design book put together and it was good (laughter). As always, of course, the DOE had to review you when you submit your final report, so our review was held in the Berkeley auditorium and they brought one hundred people to participate in this review (laughter). Man, oh man. That was just too much. Well, we put on a good show and it was accepted by the DOE and eventually as you know it was passed upstairs to the secretary of energy’s office, but I was excluded from the highest levels. You don’t talk to the--you know, it’s like they say about Boston, you know, the home of the bean and cod. The lodges speak only to Cabots and the Cabots speak only to God (laughter). Well, that’s the way the DOE was. I was allowed to talk to the panel that would then go and talk to the secretary. And I would have to convince this panel that what we had was a viable operation. It was total baloney but that was the way they did things and Alvin Trivelpiece was the energy research director that time. They keep changing the name and he kept telling me I wasn’t supposed to say that (laughter). Whatever was I to say. You got to- I had to write out my speech, of course, before I went in. then he doctored it up and said you can’t say stuff like that and I was supposed to- I guess I wasn’t supposed to talk about the economic part of it or anything. Just the technical part of it and the feasibility part. Anyway, we got through that and John Harrington the secretary at the time accepted it and then he took it to a cabinet meeting and got ready to accept it. By that time, of course, the- I shouldn’t say of course. The DOE I guess had called for proposals for sites, so there was some huge number. I don't know, forty proposals or something. There was not one from every state but almost and so, that had to be whittled down and that was of course a political job so that had nothing to do with us. We submitted our site criteria to them and then we had nothing to do with it from then on. It wasn’t too long- let’s see by this time--let’s see I started in ’83 with the reference design. I guess we started SSC in ’84, so five years it took to complete everything that we were commissioned to do and that was the time when I got fired and Roy Schwitters took over. And-
Maury, let’s zoom out for a second there because to foreshadow to what would happen what were some of the early red flags that you maybe have seen from your vantage point?
Red flags about what?
About budget, about technology, about politics, about all of the things that may have suggested to you this was not going to come to fruition.
Oh, actually I had had quite a bit of interaction with Congress by that time because this project had quite a bit of visibility in Washington and I had to testify before the House Science and Technology committee, I don't know, four or five times. There were a number of companies that were quite interested in being involved in the SSC and they wanted to make sure that Congress had a favorable impression. So, they would run these, I forget what they call it, seminars or something followed by a ritzy dinner to try and attract congressional people, but we didn’t really get attention from congressmen but their staff people came and so, we would have a dog and pony show and the companies would say what a great project this was for America and you know, you just kind of vote for it and blah, blah, blah. So- and then I got to talk. I made the opportunity to talk with some senators or at least with their staffs and they were pretty enthusiastic because you see this was the bait and switch (laughter). The DOE said well, you know your state is- can compete for having this machine. So, naturally they were enthusiastic about this ‘cause there was a lot of jobs and a lot of money that would go with this thing. So, I got- I was very optimistic that this was gonna go and of course I was crushed when I got- didn’t have the opportunity to try and make it go but that’s okay. In the long run for me personally it worked out fine.
That’s right. Maury, what were the circumstances surrounding your firing?
Well, one Sunday, Panofsky told me that he wanted me to come up to SLAC and talk with him, so I went up to SLAC and talked with him. And he said well, you know, we are going to have Roy Schwitters as the director of this project. That’s final. There's no argument about it. I hope that you can- you will have an important role. Maybe you can be the inside guy and Roy can be the outside guy. Well, so I didn’t resign at the moment. I thought maybe something like that could be made to work. And I-
And this was out of the blue? You did not see this coming?
Right, I actually had a slight suspicion, but I didn’t really pay attention to it and it’s probably- for my mental health it’s probably good that I didn’t pay attention to it (laughter). I think other people knew. Other people in my staff new somehow picked it up from the airwaves.
Maury, after the shock wore off what decisions did you face? What did you want to do next?
Well, I- it took a while to work through. See, I didn’t actually quit immediately but after the first group meeting that Schwitters had with this company that was going to be the actual people to execute everything, it was clear to me that he was not going to be interested in having me in any important role, so that’s when I actually resigned. And then fortunately I had had--this was again, another lucky break in my life, I had been on the Magnetic Fusion Advisory Panel. That was an outfit that the DOE Fusion Division or Plasma Division had put together to look at the various facilities that they had around the country that were trying to do magnetic fusion. Princeton, of course, was a major place and also Livermore. And I met a guy who was also on that panel. A guy named Harold Forsen. You may have heard of him. We got to be pretty friendly and just out of the blue he said, “Maury, if you ever need a job, come see me.” Well, I needed a job and his office was in San Francisco not too far from Berkeley. So, I gave him a call and he said come on over. You’re on and so I started to work in the financial district of San Francisco and became a commuter from Berkeley to San Francisco along with thousands of other people. And-
Maury, what is your status with Cornell at this point?
I was still on leave from Cornell.
You could have come back if you wanted to or that was not clear?
I thought I could go back there if I wanted to, but I was exploring. So, I was very happy for this opportunity to work for Bechtel and I worked for them I guess it must have been at least six months, maybe it was more. So, what happened there was they actually have an R&D division and Harold Forsen was the director of that, so he was a vice president of Bechtel National and director of the R&D division. One of the jobs that they had immediately was a contract with a big Japanese construction firm which was interested in bidding on this big synchrotron radiation facility in- that was going to be built in Japan. They had hired Bechtel to teach them about synchrotron radiation machines (laughter). So, how on earth Bechtel sold themselves in that way I have no idea. I guess they were pretty bold people. Anyway, so my job then was to run a class on synchrotron radiation machines for these Japanese engineers and I got to be very friendly with the leader of the group. I think he may still be alive. At any rate, I got to know him very well and it turned out that in the long run, as you know, I did go back to Cornell after considering other colleges. I didn’t really get a good offer from anybody else except Cornell, so I said what the hell. I go back to Cornell which made my then wife, now my late wife, very happy about that and it turned out that this Japanese engineer’s daughter was going just starting at Cornell just at the time that I went back. So, they asked me to act in loco parentis for them for this daughter. Well, she didn’t need any loco parentis. She was a big girl and she had also had a big disappointment recently. She had gone through some- I don’t think it was Cornell- some other university. Maybe it was Washington. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. She got- she wanted to go into international finance, so she figured she’d get a degree in international finance. She’d go back home and work for one of the big Japanese banks that have interests all over the world. So, she got this degree, she went to the Japanese bank, and they said sorry. We train the people that we want to work for us, so you’re trained by a- in a different way, so we’re sorry we can’t hire you. So, she decided she was- she needed to pick up some business skills or something and she came back--she came to Cornell to take graduate work in--maybe it was the business school. Not sure about that. Anyway, well we got to be very good friends with her and every time we go to California, I still see her and her now husband. A really sweet guy, another Japanese and last time we were there they took us out to dinner. A really swanky place ‘cause he has a really good job and she made her own job. She speaks excellent English, of course, and they’re a lot of Japanese business things that go on in the Bay Area. So, she will do real time translation for these business meetings and she’s made a business out that. So, she has a translation business and she can easily do it offline or online. Whatever they want and she’s doing very well for herself. In fact, she was- she had a pretty strong business going when she met this guy that she eventually married and he was there from one of the big Japanese companies, I forget what it is, working at their division in Palo Alto and he really like working in Palo Alto and he said, “You know, these guys really have a completely different culture than us Japanese. You know, new ideas, flowing out all the time. They don’t have any brakes on. You know, the sky’s the limit.” So, he then joined a game company (laughter). Quite the Japanese company and joined the game company which then went out of business in the dot.com disaster. But he now is working for another company and started doing software and obviously doing very well. Sorry, that was a long story for-
That’s great (laughter) So, when you got back to Cornell what were your feelings?
Well, I was glad to be back and immediately the guy who was director at the time. So, I talked to the director of the lab. Karl Berkelman was his name. He and I were grad students together at Cornell. He stayed at Cornell and I did sort of. So, we knew each other, in fact, we had the same office. We worked in the same office in grad school, so- and that worked very well, and he asked me to take over managing the accelerator lab which I did.
Was it good to be back?
Yeah, it was a little bit difficult because, of course, I had to upset the regime that was in there and wasn’t working very well, so I learned about working- changing- regime changes and then as I say I did that. I must have come back there in probably 1990, and then I had a- I don’t know how I got this, but I had a leave (laughter), so I went to DESY for that leave and worked with Wiik again on this linear collider idea. And then when I came back, I was sick, and I had to resign. So, that’s when we went to China or I had my surgery and it was super big deal and we went to China and then- for five years. And then I came back as director myself because Karl said that- you know, he’s had two at least two terms maybe three terms, director terms for five years and he was just tired. And so, he announced that he was leaving no matter what or retiring no matter what. And so, they called me from China and my health had recovered. And so, I came back and then we had this real challenge. What were we gonna do because the big thing then was B-factory and trying to understand- I’m blanking out on the word I want. At any rate, the B-factory was the big thing, so we obviously decided if we wanted to stay in business, we had to make a B-factory proposal which we did. And it was a pretty good proposal and, of course, we were head-to-head with SLAC because they wanted to- they saw that as their salvation too. CP Violation in B decays was the big thing then. So, we worked very hard and made a good proposal I thought. The NSF thought it was a good proposal too but again, the DOE demanded that this be--they have a HEPAP subpanel and it turned out that that never happened because Clinton was going to make a campaign speech in California and he decided that he was going to give the B-Factory to SLAC to get brownie points with California, so that was it. They ended up with some formalities and said, "Oh, this Cornell design--the DOE put out this report saying this Cornell design didn’t pass muster". Well, that was baloney because we knew what the panel that they sent to review our proposal concluded. They had an onsite review of our proposal for--with European big shots as well as American people and Stanford people and I knew from inside information that they thought we had a proposal that was just as good as SLACS but it was all done under the basis of politics. And as it turned out, again, that was the best thing that could have happened because it would have been a DOE machine. So, we would have then start saluting to the DOE way of doing business and it would have killed us because it was just not--it would have been a culture shock which we wouldn’t have recovered from. However, in the time that it took the B Factories to be built which was three or four years, we got the biggest luminosity of any storage ring ever had, did some terrific physics, and we were able then when the B-Factories came on we--because of the flexibility of our machine we were able to go down to a much lower energy and down to the J/psi region again and study come of the physics there was--that was still interesting but, you know, was not considered to be frontier at that time. Although the B-factories never panned out, that CP knowledge was never turned into anything worthwhile. You know, it never increased our understanding very much. Whereas what we were able to do was make a real contribution to physics and stay alive right up until 2008 at which time we got converted over a to a synchrotron like facility and it’s been doing pretty well. You know every year you have to fight for your existence-
-but I’m used to that now. But I’m very glad that I could lay down my weapons and turn it over to somebody else.
Well, Maury, we already talked all the way up to the present at the beginning of our talk. So, I’d like to ask just two last questions. Looking back over the course of your career, what do you see as your greatest scientific accomplishments?
Well, first of all there’s the fact that I led the Cornell Laboratory for Accelerator Based Sciences and Education (CLASSE) né Lab of Nuclear Studies through thick and thin for twelve years (see “The Legacy of Cornell Accelerators, M. Tigner & D.G. Cassel Annual Reviews of Particle and Nuclear Science, V. 65, Oct 2015). Then there’s the invention of the energy recovery linac and the linear collider. There’s the invention of the coalescing injection scheme which other people have also used. There’s the pushing forward of the science and technology of radio frequency superconductivity. In addition there is the Handbook of Accelerator Physics and Engineering. As this handbook is in worldwide use for training students and use by professionals, I consider it one of my most important contributions. I guess also, you know, coming up with a really nice SSC design was a good thing but it’s a shame that there were so many factors against it. I think in my analysis I saw five factors that led to its demise. It’s tragic that we basically gave up the lead in particle physics to the Europeans. I had some insight in this from Don Randal who had been a musicology professor at Cornell. He was then Provost of Cornell and later he became president of the University of Chicago which at that time was overseer of Fermilab and thus involved in particle physics. So, he traveled in rather elevated circles and he once said he was some place where the director of the NSF and maybe even the Secretary of Energy or some very high person in the Department of Energy were discussing the cancellation of the SSC and in that cancellation we were giving up our lead in high energy physics to the Europeans and these guys just said, “Well, so what? Let them have it.” And Don, because as president of the University of Chicago at that time also had responsibility for Fermilab. So, a rather remote chain of command but nonetheless, he has the spirit of it, and he was excited about the being at the frontier of science. That was his thing and he was just shocked that these guys would be so casual about throwing away a frontier. So, but it was very odd and disturbing that they just didn’t want to fight back.
Maury, last question. Over the course of your long career and all of your experience if, in fact, the future of accelerator physics is rosy what advice might you have for younger physicists coming up.
Oh, you know, I wrote an article on this (Reviews of Accelerator Science and Technology vol 10, World Scientific Pub. 2019). I think it’s very good. It is- rosy is perhaps not the right word but the usage of accelerators is just continuing to mushroom. One of our- I guess this is not confidential anymore, I guess I’ll keep the confidentiality by just saying that one of the accelerators that we developed- invented- has been sold to a European company and for quite a lot. The right to build it has been sold to them and they’re gonna use it to make isotopes- medical isotopes. Now, you might say well, I thought the protons were the only things that were- or ions were the only things to make medical isotopes. Turns out that there is an isotope that’s come into wide use now that’s much more economically made of electrons because, it’s a subtle reason. It turns out that the big thing in isotope production is the target because after you’ve eradiated the target, you then after have to separate out the isotope that you want from all the other isotopes that were made. It turns out when you make them with electrons there are many fewer isotopes that you don’t want and so, the extraction of the isotope that you want is much cheaper if you use an electron machine. Amazing and the use of accelerators for industrial purposes of irradiation and whatever we were with the superconductivity had brought the cost of some accelerators down and that has just continued to make the fuel. If you go to any of the-there’s a conference that’s just for industrial accelerators every two years I guess it is. And you just read with their report. They’re using it for everything. You know, the big- one of the big things is inspection, so inspection and ports. You know, people are really concerned that somebody’s gonna bring a bomb into the country in a freighter and get it shipped to Washington or New York or Chicago or something by putting it in a container ‘cause how are you gonna inspect containers? They, you know, thousands of them come in everyday in the port of San Francisco or any other of the big ports. So, they have this inspection thing where they run all these shipping containers past an accelerator that can eradiate maybe with two different things. You know, you can make x-rays and also neutrons. So, they can see if there’s any radioactive material in this container and they can do it in just seconds ‘cause these things are moving right along. They got to run 1000 a day or more. So, just--and that’s a big deal for accelerators and, of course, the medical uses are enormous and other industrial uses, purification, sterilization, it’s just burgeoning. And one of the things that’s happening is- and the DOE is really getting into this now. They’re saying, you know, we have to be sure that we cultivate this culture of accelerator in our economy because we need to have people who can build this stuff and supply and therefore, it’s important to have students get excited about accelerators and who want to get in there and the entrepreneurs themselves or go to work for companies that are going to be building this stuff. So, I think the advice would be, you know, this is a good business to be in.
Well, Maury, on that note it’s been a great pleasure spending this time with you. I’m so glad we were able to connect, and I really appreciate you sharing your insights with me. Thank you so, much.
Well, you’re very welcome David.