Spectrum analysis

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Elena Aprile, Centennial Professor of Physics at Columbia University. Aprile describes the feeling of just having been elected to the National Academy of Science and she describes how the XENON Dark Matter search has continued despite the pandemic. She explains why so much of physics is devoted to try to understand dark matter and where she sees the interplay of theory and experiment toward that end. Aprile describes why finding dark matter will mean finding new physics beyond the Standard Model, and she recounts her upbringing in Milan and her developing interests in physics during high school. She describes her first visit to CERN when she was a student at the University of Naples and what it was like to meet Carlo Rubbia. Aprile discusses her graduate work at the University of Geneva where she worked on scattering protons to study time violation effects. She explains her interest in the UA1 and UA2 experiments at CERN and her work on noble liquid detectors, her appointment at Harvard, and her first involvement with radiation spectroscopy. Aprile narrates her realization that xenon would be valuable for astrophysics and dark matter specifically, and she describes the origins of the LXeGRIT telescope project. She explains why Gran Sasso was chosen on the site of the XENON experiment and some of the technical and economic challenges in dealing with xenon on the scale required to search for dark matter. Aprile reflects on the difficulties she has faced as a woman in her field, and she describes the competitive value in having the LZ experiment and its search for dark matter. She explains how one goes about searching for dark matter without knowing what dark matter is. At the end of the interview, Aprile imagines what it will mean to find dark matter, what mysteries it will solve, and why she will remain steadfastly cautious before confirming the discovery. 

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with John K. Delaney, Senior Imaging Scientist at the National Gallery of Art. He discusses the datasets he has been analyzing during the pandemic, and he recounts his childhood in Boston. Delaney describes his experience at Rockefeller University and his interest in phototherapies and measuring porphyrins under the direction of Dave Mauzerall. He discusses his postdoctoral research at the University of Arizona to study rhodopsin molecules and following the changes in protein structure after excitation by light. Delaney describes his interests in biophysics and his subsequent postdoctoral position at Johns Hopkins as an NIH fellow working in the lab of Sriram Subramaniam, before taking a job in industry as an optical engineer. He explains the circumstances of his initial involvement at the National Gallery of Art and the Gallery’s realization of the value of spectroscopy for analysis and preservation of paintings. Delaney describes how he built an expertise on hyperspectral imaging. He explains why the Gallery supported this work and how a global community developed for this field. He explains the value of his work for art authentication and the opportunities he has pursued in public outreach. At the end of the interview, Delaney explains some of the key physics concepts that inform his work, and he describes his ambition to write a book on reflectance imaging spectroscopy of paintings.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Blair Ratcliff, emeritus physicist and Permanent Member of the Laboratory Staff at SLAC. Ratcliff describes his ongoing work at the Lab since he retired in 2017, and he recounts his childhood in Iowa after World War II. He describes his undergraduate education in physics at Grinnell College and he explains the opportunities that led to his graduate work at Stanford, where he immediately gravitated toward SLAC as it was being built. Ratcliff describes working under the direction of Burt Richter in Group C, and he discusses his postgraduate research at CERN where the ISR colliders were starting. He discusses returning to SLAC to join David Leith on Group B and his work as spokesman on the spectroscopy program. Ratcliff narrates the origins of BaBar and his decision to create the Physics Analysis Group and to build up the SuperB factory. He discusses his advisory work for the Dune and LZ experiments, and he reflects on winning the APS Instrumentation Award. At the end of the interview, Ratcliff considers BaBar’s contribution to understanding the cosmic imbalance of matter and antimatter, and he conveys a sense of serendipity that BaBar came together at the right time, at the right place, and with the right people.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Bertram Batlogg, Professor Emeritus at ETH Zurich. Batlogg surveys his current interests in topological superconductivity and superconductivity in twisted layer graphene, and he connects this current research with his own work at Bell Labs earlier in his career. He considers the current state of play in high-Tc research and he recounts his family's Austrian heritage and his upbringing early interests in physics. Batlogg describes his undergraduate experience at ETH Zurich and his reasons for remaining to complete his PhD thesis work. He describes Bell Labs as the Mecca for his research as a postdoctoral fellow and then as a staff scientist. Batlogg discusses his work on Hall effect measurements, superconductivity, and heavy Fermions, and he describes his tenure as head of the solid state physics and materials research division.  He describes the culture of basic science and how it changed from the 1980s to the 1990s, and he discusses his formative collaborations with Bob Cava and 1-2-3 YBCO. He narrates the story of meeting Jan Hendrik Schön and the issues that would lead to the investigation led by Mac Beasley. Batlogg conveys the scientific and emotional turmoil of this episode and the impact this episode had on his sense of trust in people. He describes participating in the investigation after he had already left Bell Labs to return to ETH Zurich to build up a research group with a focus that included topics such as charge dynamics and heavy Fermions in very high magnetic fields. At the end of the interview, Batlogg emphasizes advances in data acquisition and spectroscopy that propelled the field forward over his career, and he considers how some his research can contribute in the future to discoveries in both the applied and basic realms of science.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Remote Interview
Abstract

In this interview, Paul Hansma, research professor in the department of physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara describes his childhood growing up in multiple places due to his father’s academic work at numerous colleges and his early interests as a tinkerer. Hansma recounts his experience at New College and the unique curriculum offered there, and he discusses his graduate work at Berkeley, where he worked with John Clarke and where he conducted research on electron tunneling. He explains the circumstances leading to his appointment of UC Santa Barbara where he initiated electron tunneling spectroscopy, and built pioneering microscropes. Hansma discusses his work on the atomic structure of bones and studying bone deterioration. At the end of the interview, Hansma discusses his research work in the neuroscience of chronic pain.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Bathesda, Maryland
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interview Ad Bax, section chief in the Laboratory of Chemical Physics, at the NIH. Bax recounts his childhood in the Netherlands growing up on a farm and his undergraduate experience at the University of Delft. He describes his developing interest in nuclear magnetic resonance and the exciting theoretical opportunities that this new field presented. Bax discusses his graduate work with Ray Freeman at Oxford in NMR spectroscopy, and he explains the early role of computers on NMR research. He discusses the circumstances leading to his postdoctoral work at Colorado State University on solution and solid state NMR. Bax explains his initial work at the NIH using NMR to study protein structure. In the last portion of the interview, Bax provides an overview of the clinical and research value of NMR to the overall mission of the NIH, and he describes how the culture of collaboration makes the NIH a unique place to pursue basic research.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Josef Eisinger, professor emeritus at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Eisinger recounts his childhood in Vienna and his experiences in England as a refugee from the Nazis during World War II. He talks about his transfer to Canada as an “enemy alien,” his experience transitioning to civilian life, and his matriculation at the University of Toronto, where he completed his undergraduate and Masters work in physics before transferring to MIT for his Ph.D. Eisinger discusses his work with Jerrold Zacharias and Viki Weisskopf. Eisinger discusses his tenure at Bell Labs, where he pursued a variety of interests in spectroscopy and electron-nuclear double resonance. He explains his developing interest in molecular biology and the Guggenheim Fellowships that allowed him to advance in this new field. He discusses his work on lead poisoning and his transition to Mount Sinai. Toward the end of the interview, Eisinger discusses his involvement with translating the letters of Brahms.

Interviewed by
Katherine Sopka
Interview date
Location
Wellesley, Massachusetts
Abstract

Family background, education, and emergence of scientific orientation. Undergraduate years at Wellesley College (1912-1916); description of physics department. Assistant examiner in U.S. Patent Office during World War I. At MIT under E.B. Wilson as graduate student and laboratory assistant, then lab instructor (1920-24). Returned to MIT for doctoral work in 1928. Mathematical physics thesis under Norbert Wiener, while teaching at Wellesley. Depression years brought teaching position at Wilson College (1930-43), used Wellesley as model. Work on Zeeman Pattern earns her Guggenheim Fellowship (1949-50) at MIT and European labs. World War II years as head of OSRD British Report Section. Returned to Wilson (1945-56), worked part-time at National Science Foundation (1953-56). Retirement years including affiliation with U.S. Army and spectroscopic work at Harvard College Observatory. Comments on women in physics in U.S., her own opportunities, and teaching in general.

Interviewed by
Charles Weiner
Interview date
Location
Slater's office, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Abstract

Slater leaves Harvard University for Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1930 (Karl Compton) to build up Physics Department there; work on quantum electrodynamics. Growth of MIT Physics Department in the 1930s and 1940s, relations between experimentalists and theorists; discussion of works and publications during the 1930s. Changes in U.S. physics; overview of post-World War II physics to 1951, and reasons for establishing own research group; establishment of the Radiation Lab, 1940; magnetron work; Bell Labs visits, 1941-1942 and 1943-1945. Planning of postwar development in MIT Physics Department; transition from Radiation Lab to Research Lab of Electronics; formation of laboratories of nuclear science, acoustics, and spectroscopy; the Lincoln Laboratory, the Instrumental Lab; growth of nuclear branch of Physics Department; physics activity in general in postwar years, Solid State and Molecular Theory Group; the Compton Lab.; Materials Science Center established ca. 1958; interdepartmental and interdisciplinary work; visits to Brookhaven National Laboratory; Slater and Per Olov Lowdin’s Florida Group. Also prominently mentioned are: John Bardeen, W. Buechner, Arthur Holly Compton, Edward Uhler Condon, Jens Dahl, Robley Dunglison Evans, James Brown Fisk, George Harrison, Douglas Rayner Hartree, Raymond George Herb, Milton Stanley Livingston, Millard Manning, Jacob Millman, Wayne B. Nottingham, Isidor Isaac Rabi, Schafer, William Shockley, R. A. Smith, Julius Stratton, Robert Jamison Van de Graaff, John Hasbrouck Van Vleck, Eugene Paul Wigner; American Physical Society, California Institute of Technology, Florida State University, Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, Princeton University, University of Bristol, University of California at Berkeley, and University of Chicago.

Interviewed by
Owen Gingerich
Interview date
Location
Bad Gastein, Austria
Abstract

Family background; education at Tubigen Univ.; Schrodinger Theory thesis at Univ. of Munich (1927), influence of Sommerfeld, Heisenberg. Potsdam experiments inspired by K. Schwarzschild, Emden: Local thermodynamic equilibrium and curve of growth. Spent 1928 at Mt. Wilson. Return to Germany to teach physics during Depression; use of microphotometer, Coude spectrograph; analysis of Tau Scorpii. Pre-war professorship at Yerkes with Struve: line profile information, stellar composition. WWII return to Kiel, star temperature detection, solar spectrum analysis, elements/energy production. Isolation and destruction of German physics, anti-German attitude. Remarks on history of science, views on contemporaries and astrophysical (radio) research; fate of Unsold's correspondence.