Neutrinos

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Murdock Gilchriese, Senior Physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. He discusses his contribution to the major project, LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) and the broader search for dark matter, he recounts his parents’ missionary work, and his upbringing in Los Angeles and then in Tucson. Gilchriese describes his early interests in science and his undergraduate experience at the University of Arizona, where he developed is expertise in experimental high energy physics. He discusses his graduate work at SLAC where he worked with Group B headed by David Leith, and he describes his research in hadron spectroscopy. Gilchriese explains his postdoctoral appointment at the University of Pennsylvania sited at Fermilab to do neutrino physics before he accepted his first faculty position at Cornell to help create an e+/e- collider and the CLEO experiment. He discusses the inherent risk of leaving Cornell to work for the SSC project with the central design group, and then as head of the Research Division. Gilchriese describes his subsequent work on the solenoidal detector and his transfer to Berkeley Lab to succeed George Trilling and to join the ATLAS collaboration. He explains the migration of talent and ideas from the SSC to CERN and discusses the research overlap of ATLAS and CMS and how this accelerated the discovery of the Higgs. Gilchriese describes his next interest in getting into cosmology and searching for dark matter as a deep underground science endeavor, and he explains why advances in the field have been so difficult to achieve. At the end of the interview, Gilchriese describes his current work on CMB-S4, his advisory work helping LBNL navigate the pandemic, and he reflects on the key advances in hardware that have pushed experimental physics forward during his career.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Abraham Seiden, Distinguished Professor Physics Emeritus at UC Santa Cruz. Seiden discusses his current interests in developing silicon detectors for the high luminosity LHC and sensors for the TRIUMF accelerator, and he surveys the current interplay between theory and experiment in particle physics more broadly. He recounts his birth in a displaced persons camp after World War II and his childhood in Brooklyn and then in California, and he explains his decision to go to Columbia for his undergraduate studies. Seiden describes his graduate research at Caltech and then UC Santa Cruz under the direction of Clemens Heusch to conduct research on deep inelastic muon scattering at SLAC. He discusses his subsequent research on the intersecting storage ring at CERN and he describes how the “November Revolution” at SLAC resonated at CERN. Seiden describes the opportunities that led to him joining the faculty at Santa Cruz and his involvement on the high PT photon experiment at Fermilab. He recounts his interest in Higgs research and the leadership of George Trilling and he explains the origins of the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics. Seiden discusses his advisory work for P5 and the broader state of play of particle physics in the United States and he describes the impact on CERN following the cancellation of the SSC. He discusses the import of the ATLAS upgrade, his involvement with LIGO, and his contributions to BaBar at SLAC. Seiden narrates the run-up and the impact of the Higgs discovery at CERN, and its impact on searching for physics beyond the Standard Model. He surmises how a particle physics approach will help to unlock the mystery of dark matter, and he explains his motivations to write an introductory textbook on particle physics. At the end of the interview, Seiden compares the opportunities in the field that were available to him as a graduate student as opposed to his own students, and he explains why working on the SSC was the most fun he’s had in the field, despite its ultimate fate.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Michael Creutz, Senior Physicist Emeritus at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Creutz surveys where lattice gauge theory is “stuck” and where there are promises for breakthroughs in the field. He recounts his birthplace in Los Alamos, where his father was a physicist, and his upbringing in Pittsburgh and then San Diego. Creutz describes his undergraduate education at Caltech and his graduate research at Stanford, where Sid Drell supervised his work on deep inelastic scattering. He explains his decision to take a postdoctoral position at the University of Maryland, and he discusses becoming involved in lattice gauge theory following his exposure to Ken Wilson’s work on renormalization. Creutz describes Brookhaven’s focus on proton scattering when he joined the Lab, and he explains his work during the discovery of the J/psi. He explains his motivation for writing a textbook on lattices, and the value of ever-more powerful computers for lattice gauge research. Creutz explains his “controversial” approach to staggered fermions, and his work on topology in lattice theory. At the end of the interview, Creutz discusses his current interests in chiral symmetry, he reflects on the burst of intellectual activity at the dawn of lattice gauge theory, and he explains why parity violation in neutrinos continues to confound theorists.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Ian Hinchliffe, Senior Staff Emeritus at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Hinchliffe surveys the current state of play with the ATLAS collaboration. He recounts his childhood in northern England, and his interests and abilities in science that facilitated his admission to Oxford. Hinchliffe explains his decision to remain at Oxford for graduate school to work under the direction of Llewellyn Smith on deep inelastic scattering and he discusses his postdoctoral appointment at Berkeley Lab. He discusses his work in the theory group led by Geoff Chew and he explains the significance of QCD to reconcile calculations with experiments. Hinchliffe describes the opportunities that allowed him to stay at Berkeley Lab and the key developments of neutrino scattering. He discusses his involvement in supercollider physics and planning for the SSC and his tenure as leader of the theory group. Hinchliffe explains how Berkeley got involved in the ATLAS collaboration at CERN and George Trilling’s leadership of this effort, and he explains how CMS is both competitor and partner in the search for the Higgs and beyond. He conveys his feelings when the Higgs was discovered and how ATLAS has contributed to astrophysical research. At the end of the interview, Hinchliffe prognosticates on the future of CERN, and why he remains optimistic that the Higgs factory will push forward foundational discovery.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Kevin Lesko, Senior Physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and former Spokesperson for LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ), an international collaboration searching for dark matter. Lesko explains why so many different kinds of physicists are involved in dark matter searches and how theorists have provided guidance for experimental and observational work to understand dark matter. He recounts his upbringing in northern California, the scientific influence of his parents and older siblings, and his decision to attend Stanford, where he worked on a tandem Van De Graaff in the nuclear physics lab. Lesko discusses his graduate work at the University of Washington, where he worked under the direction of Bob Vandenbosch on nuclear fission research, and he describes his postdoctoral appointment at Argonne, where he pursued experiments in nuclear fusion and neutrino physics. He explains his decision to join the staff at Berkeley Lab and how his interests centered increasingly on astrophysics with the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory. Lesko discusses his collaborations in Japan and KamLAND’s discovery of the absolute measurement of neutrino oscillations and the origins of the Homestake collaboration. He describes the transition of support for Homestake from the NSF to the DOE and he explains his entrée to the LUX collaboration and the reasons for the merger with ZEPLIN. Lesko explains how LZ needs to be ready to detect dark matter either as a singularity or is comprised of multiple components, and he considers what it might look like for dark matter to be detected. He recounts LZ’s success in ruling out dark matter candidates and he reflects on LBNL serving as a home base while his collaborative research has always been far-flung. At the end of the interview, Lesko considers what we have learned about the universe as a result of LZ, and why mystery and curiosity will continue to drive the field forward.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
David Zierler
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Raymond Sawyer, professor of physics emeritus at the University of California at Santa Barbara.  Sawyer recounts his childhood growing up in many towns in the Midwest as a function of his father’s frequent job transfers. He discusses his undergraduate studies at Swarthmore College, where he developed his interest in physics, and he explains the atmosphere of wide career opportunity in the age of Sputnik. Sawyer describes his graduate research at Harvard, where he worked in Norman Ramsey’s molecular beam lab.  He explains how Julian Schwinger came to be his advisor and he describes his dissertation study on symmetries and the weak interactions of elementary particles. Sawyer discusses his postdoctoral research at CERN where he joined the theory group and where he studied the decay of a charged pion. He describes his second postdoctoral appointment at the University of Wisconsin and his work in quantum field theory at the Institute for Advanced Study which he did at the invitation of Robert Oppenheimer.  Sawyer explains the series of events leading to his decision to join the faculty at UC Santa Barbara, and he discusses his role in the formation of the Institute for Theoretical Physics. He explains his invention of charged pion condensation and he describes his work in university administration. At the end of the interview, Sawyer reflects on his contributions throughout his career, and he explains how he has kept active in the field during retirement.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, Gary Feldman, the Frank B. Baird, Jr. Research Professor of Science at Harvard University, recounts his childhood in South Bend and his undergraduate experience at the University of Chicago. Feldman describes the opportunities that led to his graduate work at Harvard to work with Frank Pipkin on electro production pion experiments. Feldman discusses his postgraduate research at SLAC where he worked closely with Roy Schwitters in Burt Richter’s group measuring the form factors of baryons and pions. He describes the similarity of experiments connection Richter’s discovery of the Psi and Martin Perl’s discovery of the Tau twenty years later, and he describes the SLAC LDL detector project and the impact of LEP collaboration on SLAC. Feldman explains his decision to join the faculty at Harvard and the status of the CDF experiment at Fermilab at that point. He discusses his contributions to the NOMAD research at CERN looking for the tau neutrino in an electronic bubble chamber, his work on the MINOS experiment at the Soudan mine, and he explains the problem of CP violation in terms of what one can see with neutrinos and anti-neutrinos. Feldman prognosticates on future work to determine evidence for a sterile neutrino, and he offers his perspective on the downfall of the SSC and why Burt Richter’s directorship may have made the difference. At the end of the interview, Feldman points to Japan and China where some of the most interesting high energy physics is happening, and he notes the value that particle physics is contributing to deep learning and artificial neural nets.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Edward “Rocky” Kolb is the Director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago and the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor of Astronomy at the University of Chicago. In this interview, Kolb explains how he acquired his nickname and he recounts his upbringing in New Orleans and his habit of spending time in the local library, where he developed his interest in science. He describes the financial constraints that compelled him to attend the University of New Orleans for college, and he characterizes his education there as broad but not deep, which caused him to consider a wide range of specialties for his graduate research at the University of Texas. Kolb describes working with his graduate advisor Duane Dicus in applying particle physics to cosmological questions, and he summarizes his dissertation research on the effects of axions in stars. He discusses his postdoctoral research with Willy Fowler at Caltech, and he emphasizes the influence of Allan Sandage on his decision to focus on cosmology.  Kolb describes his second postdoctoral fellowship at Los Alamos where he joined the burgeoning astrophysics group in the Theoretical Division to work on Big Bang nucleosynthesis.  He explains his decision to join the astrophysics group at Fermilab, where he collaborated closely with Michael Turner and benefited from the support of Leon Lederman. He describes his developing interest in supersymmetry and neutrino oscillations, he describes the impact of Alan Guth’s lectures on inflation, and he explains his increasing involvement with the astronomy and astrophysics department at the University of Chicago culminating with an offer for him to become chair of the department.  He describes his objectives and achievements in that position, he explains how he maintained research interest in creating particles from the vacuum, and he describes how this research could be of value in the ongoing quest to understand dark matter. At the end of the interview, Kolb reflects on the different approaches that religion and science take to understanding reality, and he explains why he is most optimistic that understanding dark matter is the most likely major future breakthrough in his field.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Hamish Robertson, Boeing Distinguished Professor of Physics Emeritus at the University of Washington. Robertson recounts his childhood in Hamilton, Canada and his experiences as an undergraduate at Oxford University and his early interest in working at Los Alamos Lab. He describes his decision to pursue graduate work at McMaster University, which had just built the first nuclear reactor on a college campus in Canada, and his intent to focus on atomic beam physics. Robertson explains his post-doctoral research at Michigan State and his shift from nuclear structure physics to neutrino physics and his formative sabbatical year at Princeton and his tenure at Los Alamos, where he worked on neutrino mass. He describes his views on the standard model, and the recruitment process that led to his decision to join the faculty at UW, where he helped to create a laboratory to continue research on neutrinos. Robertson talks about the major influence of John Bahcall, and he describes the issues in physics research that remain compelling to him.

Interviewed by
Alan Lightman
Interview date
Location
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Abstract

More discussion of the reasons why particle physicists began working on cosmology in the 1970s; importance of theoretical work by Kirzhnitz and Linde in 1972 on broken symmetries and phase transitions; current unreality of work on the very early universe; attitude toward the inflationary universe model; successes of the inflationary universe model; aesthetic attraction of a flat universe; acceptability of postulating that we live in a flat universe; introduction to and attitude toward the horizon problem; attitude toward the inflationary universe model; incidences of being worried about scientific problems that no one else is worried about; the anthropic principle and Dirac's large number hypothesis; reaction to de Lapparent, Geller, and Huchra's work on large-scale inhomogeneities; Weinberg worried that perhaps we have misinterpreted the cosmic background radiation; Weinberg's philosophy about strategy in science; the role of consensus in science and the importance of "standard" models; outstanding problems in cosmology: distance scale of the universe, value of the deceleration parameter, origin of structure; failure of theory to explain the observed large-scale structure; possible importance of WIMPs; prematurity of work on the early universe; ideal design of the universe; preference for universes in which initial conditions do not have to be specified; Weinberg's statement in The First Three Minutes about the lack of point to the universe.