Gallium arsenide semiconductors

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Video conference

Interview with Charles Prescott, Professor Emeritus at SLAC. Prescott discusses his activities in physics since retiring in 2006, and he conveys his interest in the muon anomaly results from the g-2 experiment at Fermilab in light of his longstanding work in spin physics. He offers a wide perspective on the creation of the Standard Model and when the field began to search for new physics beyond it, and he recounts his childhood in Oklahoma. Prescott discusses his undergraduate education at Rice and his interests in physics, and he describes the opportunities that led to his graduate admission to Caltech, where Bob Walker advised his thesis research on the eta meson. Prescott conveys the importance of Steve Weinberg’s work on particle theory in the late 1960s, and he describes the circumstances that led him to SLAC after a brief appointment at UC Santa Cruz. He describes joining Group A, which was led by Dick Taylor, and how he organized the first parity violation experiment. He discusses the E95 and E122 experiments, and he describes early advances in understanding the nucleon sub-structure. Prescott explains his proposal to add polarized beams to the SLC and a new drift chamber for the SLD, and he discusses the origins of the DELCO collaboration. He describes his tenure as leader of Group A and then as Associate Director of the Research Division, and as chair of the International Spin Physics symposium. Prescott discusses his work on SLAC’s Enriched Xenon Observatory, and he prognosticates the poor political and budgetary prospects of future linear accelerators. At the end of the interview, Prescott reflects on receiving the Panofsky Prize, and he segments SLAC into its constituent historical eras as defined by the dominant experiments over the decades.