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Interview of James Paterson by Elizabeth Paris on 1996 July 17, Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics, College Park, MD USA, www.aip.org/history-programs/niels-bohr-library/oral-histories/6654
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Paterson discusses the Cambridge Electron Accelerator Laboratory's attempt to build an electron-positron collider and the Stanford Positron-Electron Asymmetric Ring (SPEAR) as well as some points on storage rings in general. This interview was conducted by Elizabeth Paris as part of her dissertation project on the early history of electron colliding beams in the United States. She is working on her doctorate in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh.
So you were going to tell me about Gus Voss.
Gus Voss. He returned after we closed the lab and—no, before we closed the lab. In 1972, Gus went back to Hamburg, to DESY, the lab there. I came out here, and Albert Hoffman and another senior accelerator physicist went back to, Geneva went back to CERN. Anyway, last year Gus officially had to retire as being an associate director of the lab in Hamburg, and the new director asked me to come over and give a talk about the CEA days. In fact, he chose the title. The new director chose the title, and it was called “The Heroic Years.” That was the title of that thing. And it just so happens I have a copy which I put together for you of that talk. Because this is not something you are going to find in the archives anywhere, because it’s a whole mix of things that cover those CEA years, but more specifically the heroic years were the ones that were defined as ‘65 to ‘73. Because that was the point where we knew that we were out of the business of building, of competing with Stanford to get a storage ring. Because the Laslett committee had made its pronouncement. And that’s when Norman Ramsey said, “A case of champagne to anybody who gets us back in the business.” And that was the beginning of a whole series of inventions [which] Gus Voss, Ken Robinson was involved in, etc., in the beginning of this hectic thing that ended — Well, we knew when it would end; it would end whenever a SPEAR was built. I mean that was our goal. But we wanted to do the physics first, and that was a very competitive period.
Now, before ‘65 I was at the Cambridge Electron Accelerator all the way from ‘62 to ‘65. There was that period of these proposals that John Rees, who was the actual editor of the CEA proposals — he has copies of them, or a copy at least — and every year, well not every year but it was resubmitted, but it was the green book which is Harvard/MIT and the red book which of course is Stanford colors, and they were proposed for about two years in a row, and then this Laslett committee decided if one was to be built it should be built here because of the superior injector, although SLAC hadn’t turned on actually, but was obviously going to be there. That was a pretty straightforward decision. If you go through this, I’m not sure how many things it might tweak [?], but if you just look through the things. This is obviously copies of transparencies. But there is the title page on April 7, ‘64 of a green book. So that was the green book, the proposal for the storage ring, and interesting that the sums of moneys we talked about in those days. But, and notice my name is not on here, but John Rees is, because he was actually editor. I was busy in the trenches making the synchrotron work. Anyway, there is a lot of details about this, but here is this thing about the Laslett committee. In the end of ‘64 this Jackson Laslett committee, it was Atomic Energy Commission these days, said if an e+ - e- storage ring is built in the USA, it should be sited at SLAC because of the superior injector.” And then that’s when Norman Ramsey, who is still around, although he must be emeritus by now, must be retired. Anyway, says a case of champagne for anybody that got us in there. And so that was an important deed.
There was another very important happening. If you look at the history, you’ll see here the big setback was the bubble chamber explosion. And at that time I would say there was quite a few of us, including Gus and myself, thought that was the end. Would we rebuild or not rebuild. The damage looked, it was so bad. But we did, we did rebuild, and then it was this famous paper, which is a technical memo which somewhere in some archives exists. And that was the famous one, because that’s the one that he said, “Look. We think we can get back into business and doing it. And then there is a list of things, of all the crazy ideas that we invented to convert this whole thing, and the list is sort of endless. This is a talk that was given accelerator experts, so I didn’t have to go into a lot, and this is all knowledgeable, you know, crowd, so they understood all of that, and in many cases people thought we were crazy. Because we just kept, we had a funny attitude. We had nothing to lose I think was the right thing. We had absolutely nothing to lose. The decision had been made. It was only a matter of when a storage ring would exist on the west coast. We knew that with all of these things that we were doing which was stretching the state of the art beyond the state of the art, there was no way we could compete with the purpose built, you know, purpose built machine, that, as we used to joke about it, those guys on the west coast have to be absolute fools not to build a machine that works better. I mean because they’ve got, starting from scratch.
So that with that we just threw caution to the winds, and we decided we’d do things, well so what they had never been done before. It was more fun. And so we went through a whole series of this, a whole series of things in here about all the modifications and craziness that we went through, including this bypass. I had to dig up — I wonder if ??? photographs in here. Yeah. And there was a period of time when we — oh, here is a historical document. Yeah, what really happened in the time frame; not what we said initially, because things obviously took a lot longer to make work than we thought, and it was a whole series of things going on. Now here is an interesting little photograph. I’ll show you what these are. Those are scans of the beam size taken with what’s known today as a wire scanner. We called that a flying wire. The SLC use these wire scanners. With a 7 micron carbon wire measuring beams which are microns in size. Burt Richter was on a visiting committee, came into the control room the night we were commissioning that, saw it, came back, they were now building SPEAR, and ordered two of them built for SPEAR. And it’s a big laugh. You can never write this up. But he made a mistake and didn’t ask us why we were doing it the way we were doing it, and they never worked. They were built at $20,000 apiece and they went right through the SPEAR beam once and disappeared, got burned up. So every time we’re mad at Burt these days we say to him, “Remember.”
What questions did he miss asking you that he should have asked?
It was about, he asked us why we were using carbon, etc. and he used beryllium. He didn’t check on the temperature, and of course it just vaporized. We were right on the edge of vaporizing the carbon. The carbon, you know, that’s why you use carbon in early filaments, because it could take a very high temperature without vaporizing.
Why didn’t he ask you?
Probably he just didn’t think about it. He just was so busy, so many things on his mind he just probably didn’t think about it. Use low radiation ??? beryllium, right? It was thin enough, nothing should happen, he just never thought there was a temperature. He never thought to do it.
Did he know that you were using carbon?
I don’t even know if he ever asked that. So anyway, here is another famous piece of physics. Famous piece of physics. Of course we only measured two points. We had two runs, 5 GeV center mass was the first one, and then 4 GeV [?] was the second one. I was present in part of the design and running of this experiment. Well, it was the same experiment, but I was the designer of the apparatus that we built here, and so these were our two measurements, big surprise. Which of course were published before SPEAR was complete and running, before SPEAR published, and the world essentially had a great difficulty believing us until you get all of these results. Some of these of course are the Adone results way down here, but all of the ones of the smaller bars and the dark circles are the SPEAR results which run right through them. So again Burt had to eat crow because he kept telling me. He had hired me, so he had nothing against me, but he kept saying, “Ewan, there’s something wrong with those results,” and I said, “Burt, you’re going to find yourself that they are right,” and they were. They were.
So we had those two physics runs at very low luminosity, a factor of 10 below the worst that SPEAR could run at, and a factor of 100 below typical good running in SPEAR. But we got there just in time to do these things. Then as a I said, at the end of ‘72 Gus, Albert and I, we were all at the same “Vossfest”, as it was called, at DESY. So we all left, we were the first rats to leave the sinking ship. As I say, Gus back to DESY to become an associate director there, and Albert to a senior position in charge of LEP [?], accelerator physics, and myself to take over SPEAR. So that was the way we went. And then I said, there’s this famous quote from John. John Rees in 1986, and it was on one of, let me see which anniversary was that. That was ‘76. Twenty years. No, it was more than 20, because it was ’74, the psi. But anyway, there was some anniversary, John gave this speech where he — You’ve probably seen this quote.
Yes. This is in his talk.
Yeah. That was the famous one. Everybody thought that was very good. Everybody was really —. Anyway, I’ll give you a copy of that just so that you —
Thank you so much.
— have some historical things. There are things, some things in here which were not copied because they don’t photograph well. This is one that’s in a newspaper, I can’t remember which newspaper, but was the, uh, them actually shutting down the CEA for the last time. That was a cutout from the newspaper.
John. Is Bob Woods in here?
Bob Woods? No.
I know he was there at shutdown. He’s at DOE now. I’ve talked to him on the phone a few times.
No, he wasn’t. Let’s see, there’s Karl Strauch, well, the, well here are the names. Lew Law was a friend of mine who was, that’s Lew. Let’s see, Bob Richardson, that’s Bob Richardson; that Herman Winick, who is presently in charge as one of the associate, deputy director SSRL; that’s Al Kennedy; and that’s Karl Strauch, who has just retired from Harvard. He was a Harvard professor, and he was the director at the time of closing it down. Oh. Oh, that’s the actually the photograph of the bypass that was around the synchrotron that gave the little, had the little beta insertion, and that was before there was any apparatus in there. And just in the spirit of things, that was the detector with two of its sides open. But in the spirit consistent with that, this detector was called BOLD, Bypass Online Detector. Okay?
And what kind of detector was it?
They are magneto-strictive wire spark chambers so that there were some tracking chambers in the inside, you know thin tracking chambers, and then the shower and muon absorbers going out to the outside face just straightforward, all magneto-strictive wire chambers. You know, standard technology of that era, so nothing particularly exciting. But it was very simple and good for looking for e’s and mu’s and pi’s you just, it was not really a good pi detector. And the joke which of course I gave in this talk, which is we can recognize some of the people in here, that’s Herman Winick, that’s me, that’s Roy Little, another Scot. The joke about this was, we were given this case of champagne to get back in the business. We consumed that case of champagne many times over. Any excuse, we had that champagne. That one, that one was copied. All of these were copied. We just didn’t copy the photographs. Not interesting. Let’s see. Oh yeah. That’s Gus and Herman. Some of these are digitized out of conferences and things. So there’s Gus Voss [?], much younger than he looks now, and there’s Herman sans beard. So there’s that. This was, this international conference that we hosted. Again we were different. Where in the hell is it? Because it’s an awkward shape and doesn’t fit on the shelf, I probably — but it was the 1967 International Accelerator Conference. Well, I had it here because I was doing all of this stuff. See, we even made that an awkward size. We had to do everything differently, but that was the International Conference. We were still in the early days of the bypass then, but, and that was the people at that conference back then, and there’s quite a lot of famous faces, being an international conference. That’s Stan Livingston, the first director of the lab. Stan of course is now dead. There is Herman again. That’s Bill Wallenmeyer, believe it or not, ex of DOE, AEC in those days. And if you look very carefully around here, there’s a lot of interesting faces.
John Blewett. Well let’s see. There’s Lee Teng [?], I’m just going along in the row. They would be there. Don’t see him. Don’t see him. Matt Sands I know was there. There’s Fernando Aman [?] with the pipe, the Italian famous early person involved in storage rings. I don’t see Matt Sands, but he’s around somewhere. It was a tight knit group we were — because, although we teased once another by east and west coast, I mean there was no, there were some people, a lot of antagonism. Harvard and MIT naturally against Stanford because I mean the CEA starts off as being the highest energy machine with electrons, and obviously the monster here was going to wipe them out. So that caused a little — But not amongst the accelerator people. Amongst the accelerator people, we all had common problems and common interests, and there was much less of a feeling of competition, rather more of camaraderie.
Who were the competition?
Amongst the high-energy physicists. Because it’s, maybe the people at the level of a Dick Wilson and things of that who were feeling that they were going to lose their positions in the field because they were going to get wiped out by a much more powerful machine.
So you think mostly it was the tops at CEA who felt competition with the SLAC people?
Not the other way around?
Not the other way around. Although with SPEAR there was competition, because they were worried stiff that we would eventually get this monster that we were building to work and scoop the physics. If we’d only had an order of magnitude more of luminosity we could have. I mean, when you think back history is so funny. We had the energy. If anybody had ever suggested it, even with that luminosity we could have done phenomenal physics on the J/psi side. But of course nobody was suggesting that there’s such a particle. But we could have accidentally found it like SPEAR did, and let’s face it, I mean that was an accident. There wasn’t a search, until we had the sniffs. Then there was a search. But the initial runs that had the big cross-section was accidental. Because we were so good at SPEAR. We’d ran exactly at 1.50, 1.55, 1.6, and it that bad run at 1.551 and to get a sniff. So anyway, we had the capability. Albert Hoffman and I, I remember looking at all the tapes on bold apparatus, the one saying that some of the theorists had predicted was the potential of a heavy lepton. That was in the cards. And the signature would be an e-μ non-collinear decay. So we looked. And we had a small group of events of course with that luminosity, and we found three candidates, two which we could reject as possibly be confused by pion conversions and so on, but we’d one that in the apparatus that I showed you had an e and a mu absolutely clean, beautiful electron shower in the one thing and a mu going right through all the lead and iron on the other side absolutely clean. One event. Of course in those days, certainly more than even today, you don’t publish on one event, but it was there. With today’s known cross-section for the heavy lepton, that’s about right; we should have had in that data sample about one event. So we actually had seen the tau. But of course we had never published it. But the interesting, the potential, we were so close. If somebody had just said, you know, “Why don’t you run the energy down a little bit.” Because that’s why our cross-section was so high, we were above threshold over the psi, the psi-prime, the d, over the threshold of charm, and that’s why nobody believed us.
Who was wor — you said the SLAC people, the SPEAR people were worried. Who —?
Well, they were worried in the sense that —
That you would scoop them.
That we would scoop them, you know, but we would need a miracle of luminosity of really scoop SPEAR. I mean they were building by this time, so it was only — I don’t think they were really worried. We were worried that we wouldn’t get a data run in, because as soon as they turned out. I mean, I came out here in ‘72. They did not have the detector running, but the machine was running, and I kept saying, teasing Bert, was saying, “Come on, it’s a downright shame, a waste! All this potential luminosity. Get that damn detector going!” And we said just, “What a waste.” I wanted to anxiously confirm the results. I wanted to get the results confirmed. And so I think more the fear was on our side that we would just not make it after all those years of effort and we would just not make it. But we did.
Do you think Bert was one of the people looking at the bypass and —
No, I don’t think they were particularly worried. I don’t think they were particularly worried. It’s just that when you’re in a sort of competition like that, it’s always — That’s by the way is the photograph of the apparatus, and as I say, you know, there were four quadrants. These are four identical quadrants, and these are two missing. And that’s why it was so easy to see an electron shower and muon. I mean it was just beautiful, the tau was there. So anyway, here’s the photograph of the bare Cambridge electron accelerator as it was built, before the bypass, and this is the, what we would call the switch yard; that’s where all the external beams were then put through in going out. So this was taken in the relatively early days when it was just a straight synchrotron and lots and lots of open space. What is this? Oh yes. Just for historical value, looking down on the experimental floor the morning of the explosion, and that’s a foot of water in there, on the messy side. If you would have seen that, you would have said we’d never rebuild, but we did get support and we did rebuild, and that was nice. That was a mess. I was one of the first there except for the people on shift, and I was in there while it was dark outside and there were flames from propane tanks burning up the walls like crazy. Because one thing you learn about history again, because there were several disasters like that, firemen, regardless of how well trained they are — and the Fire Department lived 200-300 yards from CEA and would visit once a month, and the same thing happened here when we have had things like that — are scared of high technology.
They should be, perhaps. But even with all their training, when it comes to it, they’re scared of going in, their scared of radiation, they’re scared of the unknown. You know the place, the machine was all off by a long way. So I ended up breaking all the rules and regulations and with a backpack on taking the firemen into that burning building, which was good because we found someone who was okay. But he was pinned. He couldn’t get out. Alright. So these are the only photographs. All the other things — oh, why didn’t I copy that? There’s an interesting list of phone numbers in February ‘63. I was showing that for Gus Voss, but these are extension numbers at CEA. Over here is something I didn’t use in my talk, but it’s another photograph of — These are parts of the roof that came down after the explosion. So that’s scary. Those are concrete panels that came down and nobody got killed by those. Oh, what’s this news clipping? Oh, that was the opening of the, you know, essentially the dedication. That’s Stan Livingston, there’s Norman Ramsey, and there is MIT what’s his name again, Martin Deutch. And that’s the newspaper clipping about the completion, the commissioning or the Cambridge Electron Accelerator. Well, we have some more things here. Ah. Oh, here’s an old photograph. This is an old photograph of CEA looked like. Now let’s see if you can judge by looking at the automobiles what year that was.
Well, I’d have a —
You have to be a car nut to know. Late fifties. Late fifties. This was when it had just been built, so in actual fact later on we expanded the experimental hall outwards in this direction and, let me see, there were some other things, and then there was another building, research – hadn’t been built yet, so this was very early in the construction project, but you can see how it was plunked down right in the middle of houses. I mean, there’s a street here, these are houses on the other side of the street. And yet we were going to build a storage ring here, being filled by this synchrotron, and the storage ring site was to be here. We as in they. Oh, here’s a famous photograph. Well, we have fun trying to identify everybody in this photograph. I can’t, but there is John Cerino, recently retired from SSRL, so he’s touring the country, Roy Little, I’ve lost touch where Roy is, that’s Albert Hoffman, who is still at CERN, myself, that’s Karl Strauch, that’s what’s his name, no, that’s Harry Mieras, that was one of the operators, that’s Gus Voss, that’s the late Ken Robinson, famous in accelerator physics, who has written papers and –- that’s Hermann Winick [?] — who had written papers that were never published, and Herman actually found out that he died.
Papers relating to the theory of the FEL, Free Electron Laser, written in somewhere in the late fifties. And all the theory — And it’s been published since then. Herman saw to it that it was published. But Albert and I used to walk down the corridor to Ken’s office. Used to drive us crazy. We’d have a question, and Ken would open his drawer. He was very, he was neatness freak, and he would always have just one pad on his desk, and he would do that, and he would pull out one sheet, one manila folder with one sheet of paper, and it would be nothing but equations, and he would say, “That explains it.” So we would go off, make a copy of this, and we’d study this thing, and we’d say, “Where did that first step come from, that crucial first equation?” So we’d go back down, “Where did this equation come from?” And he would say, “I just thought about it.” He would take gigantic steps and he would write down first equations that would normally be the second page for most of us, and he somehow did all of this in his head. He would just think, think, think, think, and he’d say oh yeah, and he would write down an equation. Very interesting character. Let’s see. Any more of interest? Oh. The late Tom Collins. Tom died unfortunately this January. That was after the explosion, but he was always a character, and he was involved certainly in all of the things going on up until that time of the explosion. But then he wasn’t involved in the rest of it. He went to Fermilab. And he was one of the originators at Fermilab, so that’s, so those were just a little outline of some of those years, but I should stop talking and you should ask questions.
Well, let me ask you when did you hear for the first time about storage rings? Can you remember? Had you heard about them in Glasgow?
Oh. Yes, I’d heard about them. Well, my background in Glasgow of course was in high-energy physics. I hadn’t yet gone over into accelerator physics. But in Europe, which of course ahead of that, I had heard of the ADA, I had heard about the proposals to build Adone in Italy. So I’d heard about them, but I wasn’t very expert. So when I went to Harvard, the offer I got from Stan Livingston was one of these joint positions where I could come and do, half my time do any kind of research I wanted, join any one of the groups, and then half the time work for the accelerator. In fact my first job was to be in charge of the experimental hall. But then I was more interested in the machine development, and then I got more and more into development of external beams and so on and so forth. And then I was not, as I said, not part of this original group designing the storage ring, but I was in the same lab, so I was aware of what was going on, but I was not the designer until after that fateful decision, and John left and so on, and that’s when I really got into it. So I was aware. In fact I remember visiting Adone ‘66 was it?
That would have been after you came over —
Oh yeah, yeah, I came in ‘62. But, so I really wasn’t much aware until I was at CEA.
But you had heard about ADA?
I had heard ADA, just in general, as a very interesting concept. Let’s ADA, what year was that? My goodness that’s ??? history. See I was a graduate student. Let’s see, when did I finish? I was a postdoc for a year, so I finished in ‘61. So I would be a graduate student round about the period that people were beginning to talk about the concept. So I was aware of that idea as, you know, a concept, but by no means an expert.
Do you know who was talking about it among the Italians? Do you remember?
Well, no, G. K. O’Neal was there, well he was in Italy at the time, I think he was in Italy at the time. I know he spent some time there. And then later on of G. K. and Burt and etc. for the e- - e- ring. So I was aware of these things, but not, they were not sort of my field at that time. They became my field because of the experience of CEA. They were just curiosities out there as far as I was concerned. And then I turned around and had this crash course with CEA experience, and by the time I arrived out here was considered at least from the experimental point of view an expert, because it really was a crash course in everything. It used to annoy people. I tried to avoid it, but there were some of the young theorists and experimentalists here that, in using modern terminology, they would discover something in SPEAR and then sort of say yeah, been there, done that. There was nothing you could do that we hadn’t seen.
Do you remember any particular time that that happened?
Yeah, I remember the very first it happened, and I remember saying, “You’ve got to be careful. You’re going to make a lot of enemies here.” They had tried something to change the dispersion to go for a different configuration, higher luminosity, just before I came, and it had a lot of beam losses and problems. And they were convinced — it was Martin Lee [?] and Phil Morton and so on — they were convinced of instabilities, beam instabilities of a new type. And it’s difficult to know how your senses work, but anyway, I arrived, and they were going to try this again, and I was in the control room, and I was watching these beam losses on the synchrotron light monitor [?]. Those aren’t instabilities. That’s hardware. I said, “Something tells me that is a hardware problem,” and I set out to prove it, and within a couple of days I proved what the problem was. There were bad bits in these digital analog converters in the power supplies and we’re going to a different regime of power supplies than they had been to before, which they hadn’t seen these bad bits, and the power supplies were coming along and ramping and then going, [makes “tch” noise], and then doing that —
— it was a bad bit. And down again and the control system at that time was not smart enough to catch them. But then I said to myself, “Why do I say that?” And it’s because I had seen — it just, it was so familiar. I had struggled with things like that for four or five years. You know, it’s a sixth sense. Instabilities give little warnings, and the beam looks unhappy, and then you lose it; this was just damn it, the power supply just glitched and lost half the beam. I guess it’s five years of fighting it 16 hours a day. We worked, by the way, that’s the other thing: we worked very intensely during that period. We played hard, but we worked very intensely, and it was a fantastic education. Because it was so much of this experience. And that was just an example of something like that, where you didn’t, I didn’t jump in and assume that it was anything exotic, because the odds are it isn’t exotic; it’s something simple, right? Something that’s simple and ugly like, you know, equipment malfunctioning.
When Stan first brought you over, did he mention anything about trying to build storage rings? Was that part of the offer?
No, he didn’t actually. No, he didn’t. Because the big push there in my job was in commissioning the synchro — The synchrotron had just commissioned, but was not, had a big physics program, was to develop as a high-energy physicist to help in developing the physics program. So my involvement initially was in building beamlines, and then I got involved in the first slow extracted direct electron beam and then designing all the transport lines for that. So it was, my job was to develop the physics, fixed target physics program. So that was my first job. So the people up there, although we shared offices on the fourth floor, I really, except for staff meetings, I wasn’t involved in the storage rings in the early days. It was development of the existing machine. They were looking at the next — The people who had built it were now off looking at the next project, and I was into making the first project function as a user facility. So that was my job.
Do you remember when and from whom you first heard about the idea of making storage rings?
Oh, I’m sure — oh, at CEA? It was because we published the green book, so I had a copy in my office.
That was the first time you heard of it?
That’s the first time I really studied it, and you know looked at the proposal. That was the first I really did. So that was ‘64. Better check with dates. Oh my goodness. Because I was writing this paper. I had to go back, keep checking through conferences, because boy you get them wrong by more than a year easily. Whenever that was, the first year the green book came out.
So you hadn’t had any personal contact. The first time you heard —
Well, except for people talking about it in staff meetings. There would be, you know, weekly staff meetings, and people would say that they’re working on this design, and they’re going to get the proposal ready, etc. But the first time I really sat down and read it was the first green book. And then I took an interest and followed it more after that, and it was very, I was beginning to get involved, because I had finished with my external electron beam, so I had more time. And so I was beginning to get involved at the time of the Laslett decision. So I was getting up to speed by the time of that Laslett committee.
The second one is ‘65 or —?
Yeah, when the Laslett was — So by that time I was knowledgeable about what was going on at, uh, about the storage ring.
So in these meetings, who would have been talking? Was it Dick Wilson or was it Livingston? Who would have been talking about it?
No, this would be staff, so this would be people like Stan, John Rees, Tom Collins, things like that. These were accelerator staff meetings. Dick Wilson would not be part of that. Dick was very much part of the politics of trying to get it to work with AEC and all the rest of it, but there were a lot of high-energy physicists doing that too, and Norman Ramsey was probably the major pusher in that regard. And you know, Dick really wasn’t, I mean although he gets a lot of credit and lot of mention, Dick really wasn’t all that involved. He was busy. He had an experimental group, he, that external electron beam, the first one, went to Dick’s experiment that I was involved. So he was very busy with that experiment. He had always been a supporter, and but in terms of the design he maybe you ask, he has credit for it, but people’s memories are different. I would say that in terms of designing I don’t think he had a major influence. He maybe had some major influence when pushing for the physics that that machine could do, which of course in those days was very simple ideas of the physics like QED and etc. that people didn’t have the exotic ideas that people talk about now. But so maybe in the physics he was — he was certainly supportive, but not really involved in the design.
And I just want to check. You said that you came in at the time of the second Laslett committee.
No, no, I got involved, no, I came ‘63.
Yeah, no, I mean you got in on the storage ring.
I was getting into the storage ring at that time, so therefore I was very much involved when they said, you know, the case of champagne to anybody that gets us back in the business.
But you were never involved in the actual green book proposals.
Not in the green book. That’s why my name isn’t on it.
Right. Even the second one.
Well, the second one was essentially the same one polished and reissued. I mean there’s not much difference in the content but a few details.
Do you know then why they put forth a second one after the first.
No, there was not really a decision, the first one. It was, if I remember correctly — I might be wrong here —it was put forward, floated as a proposal, and there was no reaction. AEC didn’t say yay or nay, which is common in those days. Then both labs — I’m sure if I have the sequence exactly, but there was another year they were sort of pushed, the proposal was pushed again, and maybe there was a few words in the green book polished, but it’s essentially the same content. And that’s when AEC reacted by having this advisory committee have a look at it. So there was just like a two year span there, and then Laslett committee was formed and came up with a rather obvious decision. Of course that was, as you know, a very different proposal than what was ever built. Thank God for that. It would never have worked the way it was designed.
What was wrong with it?
Oh, it had amperes of beam. I mean, it was lack of knowledge of the instabilities and the limits. I mean everybody agreed I mean that that was a disaster of a machine, because it went into a parameter regime that just would have been a disaster, it would never work. They would never have been able to achieve that performance. And then of course it was a dual ring with crossing angles. That would have been bad news. As I say, it had multiple bunches and amperes of beam, no understanding of multiple bunch instabilities, and it would have been a beast of a problem with the vacuum, even with the knowledge of vacuum in those days -– wouldn’t have been able to put amperes of beam in there, it would have been terrible. And as a result, and getting amperes of beam into it from that linac, the positron production was not very great in the early days of that, of the linac. And of course that was at the two-thirds point. The proposal was changed. So actually it was a much simpler machine that was finally built, was much simpler, was stripped down, and all to the good, because that simplicity made it so much easier to develop, and then of course the history of SPEAR that it just couldn’t have been a better energy regime than it was. And we made it perform rather well by the standards of that time. It performed pretty reliably, and with a pretty good luminosity for what was known about the limitations of the time. In fact it was somewhat ridiculous. One of my first jobs here was Burt put me in charge of the energy upgrade. SPEAR was built with a low frequency RF system, and the maximum energy was 2.5 GeV per beam. And that was pushing it. And so the first job I did was design a higher frequency RF system, 358 megahertz, which, with all new cavities, and all the power supply upgrades that would go up to — it was supposed to be 4 GeV. And our schedule for completion of that was at the end of the summer downtime of 1974. So we came on with a machine that was compromised for low-energy running and optimized for high-energy running, as we discovered the psi at the lowest end of SPEAR. [laughs] So here we had a machine that really, it would have been a lot easier to run SPEAR 1 than SPEAR 2, but we still made it run. We made it run. I remember that. It was funny.
To what do you credit the design improvements between ‘65 and when it was finally built?
Oh, there was a tremendous development of knowledge during that period, coming from, let me see, CEA and Adone, both were gaining experience, and generally everybody’s studies of storage rings, the journal understanding of theory was greatly improved. The low beta that was invented at CEA was never incorporated in any new machine, not only did not have it because they had been built, they were building before we invented, but that made the luminosity so easy that you get with one bunch per ring, and you can get, you know, useful luminosity, avoid all the multi-bunch problem. So there was a lot of understanding of lattices, chromatic correction systems, I mean a lot of development, a lot of active development. The team here, very powerful theoretical team of people like Phil Morton and John Rees, etc. who really, they had the — It was an interesting period. Because they weren’t building, they had the time to really study an awful lot of things about the lattice so that it was a much more advanced and more understood machine that they built than they would have built back in ‘65, because there was just a tremendous level of effort being put in.
Anyone else besides John and Phil?
Oh, there’s whole — Martin Lee [?], there was a whole bunch of people that I’m missing a lot of people if I don’t give them credit, but these are the names of the people that I particularly think of in studying optics, in studying tracking, in studying the stability issues and so on. We had not done, when we started building the bypass, we were still at a relatively primitive stage of doing that and understanding how to track particles and look at abnormalities. We sure learned the hard way. We learned the hard way by discovering you could have resonances up the kazoo and lifetimes of seconds and not because of physical aperture but because of nonlinearities. But, and they of course learned from that too, but then they developed the tools. I remember computers were pretty crude in those days. When I designed the first transport line for the, for Wilson’s electron beam using a program which is a standard matrix multiplication program in transport, I fed that machine paper tape, punch paper tape, and we ran the program overnight and hoped that it didn’t crash when you came in in the morning.
So we were talking about pretty primitive computing techniques. But they were getting better and better and better, so by the time I came out here people did have pretty sophisticated computer tools that hadn’t, that had only been developed in relatively few years, and they had big, you know, IBM mainframes to crunch them up. So there was a lot of issues came up that made SPEAR so much better. But one was that they had to make it simple to keep the costs down. And we often joke about that, but that was actually a good thing. They kept the parameters simple because they kept the machine simple, kept the cost down because they were trying to build it fast, at low cost, and that paid off, because more complication would have given more troubles and might have got in the way, we don’t know. But there was also some good thinking about being conservative where they could without gold plating in leaving room for development with all those straight sections. That didn’t pay off really until synchrotron radiation [?], but it paid off for synchrotron radiation. And well, that was the other thing. You know, we tried to sell the CEA instead of closing it down as a synchrotron radiation machine, but nobody was prepared to come up with the operating costs of running it. Winick really tried hard to sell that to the agencies it would have been an inexpensive machine to run. We also had lots of straight sections. But like everything else, they didn’t want to do that. In fact, SSRL started with a very small start, a garden shed, and it took a long time for that community to get the support to use that sort of thing. But you could have had CEA for free essentially, just for the operating costs. We had a beamline, we had one synchrotron beamline.
Had you heard anything about the electron-electron collider at HEPL?
Oh yes. Oh yeah. During the period when I was working at CEA. And as I say, there was good communication. We all went to the same conferences, we all went, as I say Burt — I remember one meeting, there was Burt Richter, there was Matt Sands, the people from the west coast, and this was not a big conference, this was some small meeting at CEA. I can picture them all in the conference room. Andy Sessler was there I remember, and Ken Robinson, Gus Voss, myself, and you know there was a whole bunch of us there, so that we were all a small community, we all knew one another, and this was some, they may have just been on one of our review committees, and they happened to be there, but I remember there was Andy, yeah, there was Andy and Burt and so on. So that, you know, there was lots of communication. We knew what they were doing, etc. And later on it was rather interesting. Norm Dean, the late Norm Dean, who was head of all ultra-high vacuum at SLAC for awhile and who was in charge of SPEAR, had an attitude somewhat correct. There is nobody in the U.S. knew anything about high vacuum better than the people here, that was Norm’s attitude. Well after I was out here for a year, came time to officially close down the CEA, Pief appointed me as the point man to put the team together to go back and see what equipment we would get at CEA to move out here. And Norm Dean was on that team and I remember Norm’s attitude was, “I don’t want to re-use anything that’s been out there in this dirty environment.” Well, our vacuum guy at CEA was just another version of Norm Dean, and the two of them hit it off. Jack Hagopian, with an Armenian name, and the two of them just hit it off; they had the same attitudes towards things and so on. As a result, the thing turned around and it was a matter of “get every pump, everything you can, get it out here,” and etc. and it was rather interesting. You’d be surprised how much there is of CEA equipment around here. Did you know that the transmitters, RF transmitters and these SLC damping rings are ex-CEA transmitters?
No, I didn’t know that.
Oh yeah. We had four — oh, this is crazy. During all of these changes in the machine to make a storage ring, one of the things was to upgrade the RF system in the synchrotron. And it had been a very purpose built RF system which had a big trial and was very unreliable, and we were, there is the sole user, and the company had us there because we were the sole users of this tube and very expense. So we decided to go and go a different approach and take four standard TV transmitter designs and just combine them so you had the reliability that would be worked out from TV transmitters. So we went out to bid. I remember we went to some TV stations and looked at their operating expense and so on. Then we went out to bid, and a company in Menlo Park were low bidder. I didn’t even know what Menlo Park was in those days. That’s where I live now. They were low bidder, and they started to build, uh, they were probably some spinoff from Varian and other things like that, but they were low bidder. Well, it turned out they were low bidder and they started to go bankrupt in the middle of the process, because I remember we consulted our lawyers and we said, “We got it up there, we put CEA stickers on every piece of equipment we can so that they can’t be sold off as part of the whole thing, it’s paid for, we paid for,” that sort of thing, and then we got somebody else to finish them up. So that company no longer exists, but so the four were built, shipped to the east coast, so we ran them, and then we brought, yeah, we brought four of the transmitters, these four back out here. Eventually SLC Oh, in PEP we used one of them for a high frequency cavity for doing experiments and sitting and building or was sitting and building form [?], might still be there. Then eventually SLC came along, and they were just the right size for the damping ring, so there’s one in each vault, each damping ring, and the fourth we got mad at. We lent it to Fermilab for an experiment they wanted to do, and they finished the experiment they had misunderstood that it was a loan and they scrapped. That would be — spare parts for these elements! But that’s something that CEA, the crane that is over the west pit, that big extension of SPEAR, is a CEA crane.
That came out of an experimental hall. You’ll find — Ah! Here is an interesting thing. There is maybe a few left, but if you walk around SLAC in the switchyard where all the beams are and you find a magnet with a name on it, the name will either be a woman’s name or it will be a constellation. That’s a CEA magnet. We, somebody, I don’t know who it was, I think it was Tom Collins, objected to the standard lab practice of calling this D-something-or-other, dipole with a number, and they started off first with spouses’ names on each magnet, so there would be Marian, that’s John Rees’s wife, you know, so on and so forth, and then they sort of ran out of that and they started using constellations so, you know, various constellations. But it’s amazing. It worked. People would talk about a magnet and say, “There’s a hose needing replaced on such-and-such,” and for some reason or other, people remembered where that magnet was better than if you said it’s D-5 xyzxxx and they get a drawing out, you know, where is that magnet. It works. Psychology. But we had a lot of magnets, a lot of vacuum pumps came out, electrical switch gear. We did very well. We did better than most of the labs, because I had, you know, we had inside contacts.
Did you get them to change the magnets here, or did they go back to numbers?
No, no, they never changed here. But if you just see a magnet with a stenciled name on the side, it came from — I can tell you funny stories. I didn’t know who Lou Keller [?] was. You know Lou Keller? He is very, he’s working with Barbar [?] now, but he’s retired from SLAC. Six-foot-ten, a physicist, who used to be the head of experimental facilities back in those days. And back in the sixth — Under the force of decreasing budgets, we had stopped all the fixed target program in CEA in the last few years to concentrate on nothing but the bypass. So we reduced the staff a factor of two and we went to nothing but colliding, colliding beam program. Well this meant we had all of these beamlines on the experimental floor, and people like ??? here were still building up the switchyard — not the switchyard, but beamlines, external beams. And they would say could we have this magnet and that magnet and so on. Well I don’t know what beam they were doing, but this guy Lou Keller called me, and I didn’t know who Lou was, and you know really urgent, “Could we expedite those magnets and get it on a truck right away?” I said, “Well, it’s going to take a few days to prepare it and so on.” He says, “Why can’t you do it right now?” And I says, “You’re in California. Have you ever thought about the process?” I said, “Those coils, unless we dry them out and fill them full of antifreeze, will burst before they leave Harvard Square, and they’ve still got to get over the Rockies.” And he says, “I never thought about that. Nobody worries about freezing here.” I mean you don’t ship a magnet with water lying in the coils; the coils will be destroyed! You know, didn’t think about that. That’s what we do all the time. But we did pretty well after we closed down the CEA in getting good equipment out here.
What about beam injection? Ejection, injection. One of the problems that initially Gerry O’Neill had faced and skepticism was the lack of an injector for a storage ring, and he pretty quickly came up with an undergraduate with a design for the delay line inflector and injection must have been a nightmare in the bypass.
And I’m just curious whether you knew about his design for the delay line inflector, whether that helped you at all?
No. That particular design was just another version of a kicker [?] magnet that’s not spectacular. But the whole issue of how you inject was important and was the fundamental reason why the Laslett committee said build it at SLAC. There’s just so much more power available, because all of these early designs, before the invention of low beta, they all required very large circulating currents to get any luminosity. So injection was even more important. So the bypass solved a lot of problems by loading the beta, going down to a few bunches, although we still at CEA had a lot of bunches, but loading the current for the given luminosity eased on the injection problem. But as I say, that came after the decision. But low beta was invented. So the early designs all had amperes of beam, really stressed injection. It was a real problem, and as I say would never have worked with today’s knowledge. I mean here we are today, PEP-2, we’re back after all of this time, worrying about one of the design criteria, which is it’s going to store an ampere of beam in many bunches. It’s only today that people have enough guts to think they can do it with today’s understanding of instabilities, today’s design of RF systems, today’s feedback systems which are state of the art, absolutely. I mean people thought we were going to do that 30 years ago? It would have never worked.
So do you think it was reasonable for, say, the MURA people to be skeptical that storage rings could ever work given that?
There were enough reasons back time and in the MURA time to think they would never work. There was a real concern. Yeah. There was a real concern.
Were you ever discouraged?
For some reason or other, no. And I tried to analyze this when I was preparing this talk for the Vossfest. We were young, all of us. We had a certain spirit of “damn it” — frontier spirit is something, you know, “Don’t worry, but we’ll solve that next” sort of attitude, right? And I guess we just had enough successes going on to keep us going that we never felt — There was a time, there was a period with the early bypass that we thought we’d really hit a brick wall for about six months, where we felt progress was not, was really stopped. But I guess we just said, you know, “We’ve made equipment, we’re going to do this, we’re not going to have egg on our face, we’re going to make it work, and we’re going to make it work somehow,” even though it never would be a great machine. But we had a lot of pride in proving that we could make something work that everybody else stood back and shook their heads and said No way!
Do you remember who the big skeptics were?
Oh, just about everybody in the field. In that 1967 conference you would almost get smiles as people — I’ll give you a good example. After I was out here for awhile, about a year, we had formed this SPEAR operations group. They were trained operators, they knew how to operate the storage ring, the storage ring like SPEAR, and knew what was involved. And one downtown, they wanted me to give them some accelerator physics lecture, so I chose the subject “Operation of the Cambridge Electron Accelerator.” And halfway through they asked me to stop pulling their legs. A machine like that couldn’t possibly work. And so they have got —
Now where was this?
This was in the SPEAR control room. This is the operators.
But where were you giving the talk?
At SPEAR, in the kitchen. In the kitchen at SPEAR. This was after I’d been here for a year. But when I started talking about multi cycle injection, where a beam gets injected at hundred of MeV [?], accelerated to 2 GeV in a 60th of a second, back down again, in and out of damping magnets, and then you start turning off this 60 hertz and it becomes a DC machine and then you adjust the DC and then you go into a bypass and then you collide the beams because you have electric static plates, you know, then people say, “Come on!” I said, “Look, that’s what we did, and that’s what the operators had to do all the time, every 20 minutes.” And that’s the other thing, of course the luminosity lifetime was short that we were doing this every 20 minutes, whereas they were used to doing this every 2 hours, and a much simpler operation. So I mean, people, it was too complicated. It was just so complicated people would shake their heads and say you can never make that sequence work. And it took a major effort from everybody, from technicians all the way up to the physicists, to make that work.
But you don’t remember who in particular was so —
No, there was no, nobody was trying to kill us and shoot us down. Partly because everybody knew the lab was going to close as soon as SPEAR was built. So, nobody was going to shoot you in the back. Right? I don’t know if there were really people out there that would have liked to have seen us fall flat in the face, and maybe there was, but we were not aware of it. We were not aware of it.
What about from the wider physics community, non-electron physicists or electron accelerator physicists? The wider high-energy physics community.
Yeah. Electron physics always way back then small potatoes compared to the big proton machines. SLAC was making a big impact with its partons and things like that. That was beginning up. But prior to that, it was quite a restricting group of people that thought electron physics were important compared to the proton machines. Fermilab was being built. So when the first results were published from the CEA, they caused a ripple, because they surprised everybody where they were, but it was not like discovery of a new particle or a proton machine, omega minus or something like that. So electron physics still had a long way to go. I would say especially storage ring physicists. SPEAR was the thing that broke the mold. SPEAR was the thing that broke the mold that really said, “My God, electron machines, especially colliders, can really mop up and do tremendous discoveries and do things that you missed in the proton machines.” Up until then, it was a very small group of people who supported electron machines. SLAC, you know, it was only because of Pete’s tremendous salesmanship to SLAC it even exists, because there was a lot of people didn’t think it was worthwhile building a high-energy electron machine.
Do you remember who saw these conversions who had been skeptical and was convinced by SPEAR?
Names? Oh my goodness, I wouldn’t, I couldn’t give names, but just simply more and more people from the proton community, both in the U.S. and at CERN, just began to see the power of this physics. I mean, as people, you know, and that machine was so lucky as regards, you know, where it was at the right time, you know.
What about the Soviets?
Soviets were always actually interested. That’s a good point. Soviets were always very interested in technology. I could never make up my mind whether it was an interest in technology that drove the physics or the physics that drove the interest in technology. So they always had a strong interest in e+ - e-. But they never did very much with the — in most of the west, you didn’t build machines for machine’s sake, you built them to do physics. [phone rings] Excuse me, let me take this because — [tape off, then back on] Yeah, you didn’t build machines just for the sake of building machines. The Russians, Soviets often appeared to. They never milked them and did a lot of good physics with them, but a lot of good ideas and things like that, and every time you look up some history you always, they claim, sometimes they are right, that they had always invented this two years, five years, ten years earlier. And sometimes they were right, but developing it to a real use wasn’t something — But they did have a strong interest in electron machines and in storage rings. Europeans did. Well, again, that’s a small group. CERN, the main center, at that time was still all protons and ISR.
Did you know about Gerry O’Neill’s involvement at ISR? Had you heard anything about that?
He made a jump in the opposite direction.
Yeah, he made a jump in the opposite direction after the e — Yeah, I knew about his involvement in the ISR. He was also involved in some other things during that period, and I’m trying to remember. I remember going down to Princeton once, late sixties, early seventies. Oh. That was when he got involved in that crazy, what was it called again? Migma [?] fusion. Somehow or other he got tied up, got connected with this — forgotten his name now. Anyway, crazy eastern European who persuaded O’Neill that this would work, but it was some idea for having a fusion machine, a miniaturized fusion machine with many, many migma cells I think they were called. Anyway, I remember going to workshop in Princeton and being surprised that somebody as smart as G.K. was getting involved in this. And the workshop was to try and look at the ideas, and they were crazy. There were many things that were just, you know, crazy and wrong with this. And I don’t know why G.K. had, at least up until that time, had gone along with this. What was this guy’s name? He actually persuaded government to give him some money for research, but nothing every came of it.
The U.S. government?
Yeah! But nothing ever came of it. Maglitch [?]. It comes back. The name is Maglitch. Crazy man.
Did the Soviets have a proton program going?
Yeah, at Dubna. Let’s see, during that period what energy was that? There’s the Dubna proton machine, and of course the Novosibirsk people were the ones who were going into e+ - e-, and then later after Dubna they began the plans for the Serpukov machine. But the Dubna machine was sort of, must have been co-exist with the Princeton-Pennsylvania accelerators. If I remember correctly, that was a sort a, the same sort of 7-10 GeV and about the same as Princeton-Penn. Which was, again, about the same as CEA in terms of time scale. In fact it was closed at the time we stopped our fixed — The same budget-cutting year that we stopped the fixed target they closed the Princeton-Pennsylvania.
Do you remember any particular Soviet physicist either electron or proton?
Oh boy, you’re going to test my memories. Yeah, there were many of them that showed up at that ‘67 conference that I had only heard by names, and that was the first time I met them. Well, there was the famous Budker himself, and there are many names I’d have to look up papers and things in there to bring them back. But these were names that I’d seen and heard of but had never met them before.
Did you get a chance to talk and collaborate with them then at that conference.
At the conference, oh yeah, oh yeah, definitely, and they were very open, especially after you got them a couple drinks and got them away from the — There was always one person in those days, there was always one member of the group who was obviously, although he may have a background in physics, he was there to look after the others, and he was obviously part of the KGB. A very funny thing happened at that conference. It was almost an international event. Turned out it was okay. We had the usual conference banquet which was being held up in the North Shore or someplace, and somehow or other this Soviet guy who had been talking to some of the CEA got separated from the group and the group all got on the buses and off they went. Well they got there to discover there’s one of their group missing. So that was a bit of a case, because nobody knew anything where he was, they called back to the CEA and everybody had left by that time. Now we had, back at CEA we had organized. What we had done was we found somebody who lived up that direction in the North Shore who oh, could you take this guy, you know, and deliver him to.... No problem. Well, this guy is very excited. I mean a Massachusetts standard citizen. How often in the sixties do you have a Soviet citizen in your car? So his house was just a little off the way, so he obviously wanted to introduce him to his wife and kids, and introduce him to the neighbors, so they have a couple of drinks, so an hour goes by and they are all having a marvelous time, so he’s late. But this delegation was worried, you could see who was not the KGB. They were getting really worried about where is this guy, because you know he should have been here by now. And then he arrives all very happy and no problem, because he had — You couldn’t understand, but you knew he was being scolded for doing this. But it was, it was almost an international incident, and it was just because everybody, you know, they’re real, these guys, Soviets, they’re real, just like us, you know.
Did they speak English or were there translators?
Most of the senior physicists spoke enough English to get along, but there usually was a good translator in the group to help. They weren’t as good as they are today. Today the Russians, you know, they travel so much more and now and of course the language is always English. They weren’t as good as they are today.
Let me go back and ask you, let’s see I have two questions to go back and ask you. One, the attitude of kind of the top level CEA brass, if you will, to the research associates and the people that were actually running the machine at CEA, the synchrotron, and later the bypass. At HEPL it’s been told to me that the attitude was kind of like, “You are slaves,” you know, and it’s the professors who are important and the research associates are sort of slaves. What was the attitude at CEA?
No, that was very different. I know where that attitude comes from. No, there was a very much, a very close coupling right through the ranks at CEA. It was one of the things that made it very pleasant. We had a reunion. When was that? It was a few years ago. Now, CEA at its maximum size had 300 staff. We had 200 people at the reunion 30 years later. That is a sign of something, that people went to the trouble of coming, in some cases long distance, some of course of the junior staff are just working in the Boston area. But people wanted to get back together and all that. It wasn’t that hierarchy, there always of course are a few famous people that had professors that made other things… but from the direct — not within the lab staffs. The director, who was Karl Strauch, the second time and Stan Livingston always had a very good relationship, all the way down to the troops and to the operators. The prima donnas on the experimental floor with their graduate students, some of those were like you describe. But to their graduate students, because they didn’t control the people running the machine. The famous one of course of that was the year that Carlo Rubbia was a professor at Harvard, where he treated myself and the ??? very, very well. But I was ashamed of the way he spoke to his graduate students, really ashamed. I mean, just treated them like shit. Terrible. He was worst I’ve ever seen.
But Carlo was fairly famous for that, and he tried it with the immigration people when he got his visa screwed up and that didn’t work, so he went back to Europe. So. Because he treated everybody that way. That was Carlo Rubia. I can’t think of anybody who was on that scale, but generally university professors tend to use their graduate — some. Now I wouldn’t generalize. Some university professors I think would be as true as HEPL tended to use their graduate students as slaves. But that was not true with the staff of the lab. They had a very good relationship right throughout the whole thing. Guys in the shops, the operators, etc. We had a sort of thing — There was an experiment I got involved in with Lou Hand [?] and Gene Engles [?]. It was one of those interesting little experiments, very simple, measuring K0 production at zero degrees. I came up with the idea how to do it simply, and they had apparatus left over from a previous experiment, that if everything worked well at maximum energy of the machine, maximum current, we could do it in three weeks. So we went to the program committee and proposed it, and there was a window of time that if everything went well we would do that. And I remember I said, “We’ll solve this problem. Let’s kick in some money and do this thing.” And I went to the operations group who didn’t directly work for me at that time, but I said, “Look guys, this experiment depends on the machine running 6 GeV, flat out. We don’t normally run it there. It will break more often. So we’ve got to fix it fast when it does that.” For every shift it breaks a record of current we’d get, I can’t remember if it was beer or champagne or whatever it was. So we did this.
That machine never ran better in its life! But there was a sort of, there was a sort of camaraderie, you know, let’s have a competition, let’s do it, right? And so there was a good feeling all around. The explosion, you know, the recovery from that brings people close together, you know, working to rebuild. That brings people close together. Now, that was a case where it almost split some of the groups between Harvard and MIT over the blame. Now that was where the professor level people were knifing one another as to who was responsible for the accelerator, but not down to this. It didn’t impact on the staff at all. And then the reduction. When you halve the staff from — actually it was by that day we were down to about 250, and we went from 250 to 120, some number like that, and within a few months’ notice in doing that. But I must admit, to our surprise, Harvard really came through with a lay-off plan that was very good, the economy had to be good in Boston at the time so that helped, but there was lots of help services for people, so again, we got through that with a good feeling. People, you know, had a good feeling. So.
Let me ask you lastly just a kind of a flat out question about the electron-electron collider. What do you think was the most important thing — physics technology, whatever — that came out of the electron-electron collider at HEPL? And do you think that was the original intent?
Let’s see. Yeah. Let’s think for a moment. There was a lot of different technology things people learned by actually just building it and doing it. A great appreciation of some of the current, the fact that there are current limits that weren’t understood that were there, the beam-beam interaction and its complexity. These are all things that made people jump on things like low beta. When it came up, and we think of the fact why didn’t people think about it before. Well, they didn’t. That’s the way ideas come about. Because I think the things that we learned is that these are complex machines, even something as simple as that small e- - e-, the beam behavior is very complicated, difficult to understand, and maybe that’s the best summary of the whole thing. Because they saw effects that took a long time before they were understood. They weren’t understood while we were building the machine, understood later. I think it convinced people of the complexity of the beam dynamics. That beam is not simply just a bunch of electrons that coolly sits and runs around the storage ring.
And do you think that was the original intent of the machine?
I think it was to learn the technology, to approve the technology, and to do a little QED at the same, you know, measurement of QED at the same time. But I think the major push was to learn how to do it and learn how difficult it was, and I think it was very successful in that regard. I’ll give you another funny little anecdote story about Norm Dean, who came from Princeton, because that’s where the vacuum chamber was being built, the glass vacuum chamber. And he says he learned a tremendous amount in that whole thing, including the fact that he would never, as long as he lived, allow water to vacuum welds in anything to do with a storage ring. And that’s because that vacuum chamber at HEPL once had something fail and the chamber filled with water. And he looked at the VACION gauges, and the ION gauges of course were all tripped up, but therefore they indicate nothing, they indicate good vacuum. Alright? And it wasn’t until they looked, and physically you could see it. The chamber was full of water. And that’s it. Norm Dean says, “Over my dead body will there be water in vacuum with a joint or a weld in between.” But how true that story is, but Norm used to love to tell it. But —
Did you ever hear anything about the collaboration on that machine, the politics of it?
Not the politics of it. Norm Dean and I were pretty close, and I know there was some politics going on between G.K. and Burt and things like that, but it had all blown over by the time I moved out here, so it was history and I didn’t take a particular interest in it, just past history. O’Neal was involved you know in one of the early experiments out here, and I didn’t bother to inquire, but I knew there was a strain somewhere.
A strain between O’Neill and Richter and stuff like that. So I don’t quite know. These are things I don’t know. Let’s see, when did they stop playing with that ring then at HEPL? ‘60? Do you remember the date? ‘60?
It was turned off in ‘68 I think.
Was it as late as ‘68?
But they got the main results in ‘65.
Yeah, that’s right. I’m surprised they still played with it until ‘68. Well I guess —
I think that’s when they turned off – no that’s too early.
Thank you so much.