Particle accelerators

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Maury Tigner, Hans A. Bethe Professor of Physics Emeritus at Cornell. He discusses the origins of the "Handbook of Accelerator Physics and Engineering," and he provides perspective on the prospects of China's contributions for the future of high energy physics. Tigner recounts his childhood as the son of parents in the clergy, and he discusses his undergraduate education in physics at RPI and his interest in working on the betatron. He explains the opportunities that led to his acceptance to the graduate program in physics at Cornell to work under the direction of Bob Wilson and Boyce McDaniel. Tigner explains his decision to remain at Cornell for his postdoctoral research to assume responsibility of the 2.2 GeV Synchrotron, and he describes his initial research at DESY in Germany. He describes his work developing superconducting radiofrequency technology, and the NSF role in supporting this effort. Tigner discusses his work on the design team for the SSC and the impact of the cancellation of ISABELLE, and he narrates Panofsky's decision to replace him with Roy Schwitters. He describes his return to Cornell, and he conveys that despite the structural challenges, there is much to remain optimistic about in high energy physics.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Yifang Wang, Director of the Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences. He describes the role of the Institute within the Chinese Academy, and he recounts his childhood in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, in China. Wang discusses his undergraduate work in nuclear physics at Nanjing University and he discusses the opportunities to being chosen by Sam Ting to go to CERN. He discusses his graduate work at the University of Florence, where Ting had the L3 experiment, and he described his work going back and forth from CERN for six years, and his involvement in the Higgs search and excited leptons. Wang discusses his postgraduate work in tau polarization and some of the theoretical bases for testing the Standard Model. He describes his work on the AMS collaboration and the search for antimatter, and he describes his postdoctoral work in neutrino oscillations at Stanford. Wang discusses the opportunities leading to his offer from the Institute of High Energy Physics in Beijing and the prospect of shooting a neutrino beam. He discusses the unique ways that the Chinese government supports physics, and the importance of the Beijing Electron-Positron Collider and the search for glueballs. Wang describes his increasing responsibilities at the Institute leading to his directorship, and he discusses his current work on the Large Circular Collider and the future prospects of high energy physics in China. He describes his tenure as director of Juno and the origins of the Daya Bay experiment. At the end of the interview, Wang asserts that the future of elementary particle physics is through the Higgs for which new understandings of space and time will be achieved, and he emphasizes the importance of scientific collaboration and the benefits of competition as a key component in the future of American-Chinese relations.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with William Marciano, Senior Physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Marciano recounts his upbringing in Brooklyn and his early interests in science, and he describes his undergraduate work at RPI and then NYU. He explains his decision to remain at NYU for his graduate research to study under the direction of Alberto Sirlin, and his thesis research on dimensional regularization. Marciano discusses his postdoctoral appointment at Rockefeller University where he worked on the SU(5) model of Grand Unification, and the opportunities that led to his promotion there to a faculty position. He explains his short tenure at Northwestern before joining Brookhaven, where kaon physics was taking center stage, and where ISABELLE was being built. Marciano discusses the origins of the Lab's g-2 experiment, and he compares the demise of ISABELLE to that of the SSC, for which he served on the program advisory committee. He describes the success of RHIC, and he discusses his research focus on muon and neutrino physics for the Lab's AGS program. Marciano explains his proposal that led to DUNE at Fermilab and he surveys his long record of advisory work for the HEPAP community and how the United States has contributed to the LHC. He reflects on winning the Sakurai prize and his contributions in establishing the validity of the Standard Model at the level of its quantum corrections. Marciano describes his recent work in dark physics, and he surveys the current state of play in muon physics and the Intensity Frontier. At the end of the interview, Marciano compares the diffuse network of the U.S. National Lab system to the centrality of CERN in Europe, and he explains why his work on DUNE and CP violation has been so personally meaningful.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Allen Odian, Permanent Staff Physicist Emeritus at SLAC. Odian discusses his current work on the EXO 200 double beta decay search for xenon, and he recounts his Armenian heritage, his upbringing in Boston, and his early realization that he wanted to be a physicist. He describes his undergraduate work at MIT, and he explains his decision to remain there for graduate school to work at the synchrotron laboratory run by Louis Osborne. Odian discusses his thesis research on proton pairs under the direction of Al Wattenberg, and he describes his postdoctoral work in pulsed electronics at the University of Illinois. He explains his decision to pursue a Fulbright scholarship to work on the 1 GeV accelerator at Frascati, Italy, before returning to take a job at SLAC just as the lab was coming together. Odian conveys the frenetic pace of building and research during SLAC’s early years, and he describes Shelly Glashow’s direction to look for charmed mesons. He discusses his work on the streamer chamber, and he describes the interplay of theory and experiment for SPEAR. Odian describes his work for the SLC positron source and his advocacy for a streamer chamber at the SSC. He explains the significance of the Askaryen effect, his involvement in the development of the Fermi telescope and his research on the inverted polarized electron gun. Odian discusses the SLC’s value for millicharged particle research, he explains the origins of EXO 200 and his work on the heavy photon search at JLAB. At the end of the interview, Odian reflects on how his experimental work has provided guidance to theorists, he conveys the centrality of Panofsky’s vision and leadership at the center of SLAC’s success, and he explains his ongoing curiosity about the possible existence of Majorana neutrinos.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Les Cottrell, emeritus physicist and former Assistant Director of Computing and head of networking at SLAC. Cottrell recounts his upbringing in England and how the Space Race captured his attention. He describes his undergraduate education at Manchester University, where he became interested in nuclear physics, and where he decided to stay on for graduate school. Cottrell discusses the Ferranti supercomputer, and he explains his early appreciation of the impact of computers on accelerator physics. He describes the opportunities that led to his postdoctoral appointment at SLAC to join Dick Taylor’s Group A, and he explains how computers were essential in analyzing experimental data. Cottrell discusses his collaborations at Berkeley Lab and his visiting position at IBM at Hursley. He explains the growing importance of SLAC’s networking group, and he discusses his advisory work for the SSC. Cottrell discusses the celebration surrounding Dick Taylor’s recognition with the Nobel Prize and his collaborations with IHEP in China. He explains the origins of the World Wide Web as a solution, in part, to transmitting physics data across international collaborations. Cottrell discusses his recent efforts to expand internet connectivity to rural communities worldwide and why networking was so important for LCLS and LCLS-II. At the end of the interview, Cottrell prognosticates on the future of computer networking, and the physical limitations that could be overcome by parallelizing computing.

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 Gordon Bowden, Staff Engineer for over fifty years at SLAC. Bowden recounts his childhood in California, Oregon and New Jersey as his father moved around for work, and he explains his interest in physics and his undergraduate experience at the University of Virginia. Bowden discusses his subsequent work at a small electronics company doing research on X-ray diffraction and building equipment for the Space Radiation Effects Laboratory. He describes his subsequent work at Boeing on fluidic development, and he explains his motivations to focus on National Laboratories for his next opportunity. Bowden discusses his initial work in the hydrogen bubble chamber operations group at SLAC and he describes Dick Taylor’s leadership of Group A. He surveys his contributions to DELCO and PEP 1 and explains why SLC was so significant and how the klystron group fit within the overall Lab structure. Bowden explains how LCLS was an outgrowth of SLC and how SLAC became involved in the LSST camera collaboration. He discusses the function of the Technology Innovation Directorate, and he describes his recent work on X-ray cancer therapy. At the end of the interview, Bowden reflects on how SLAC has shifted from its early reliance on visualization in its detectors, which has changed completely as a result of computer analysis. 

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 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
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Timothy James Symons, Senior Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and recently retired as Associate Laboratory Director for Physical Sciences, for which he ran the Lab’s programs in high energy and nuclear physics. Symons explains how the Lab has responded to the pandemic and the wide range of physics research he is following at Berkeley and beyond. He recounts his childhood in England and his early interests in science and the opportunities that led to his undergraduate education at Oxford where a tutor focused his interests in nuclear physics. Symons explains his reasons for remaining at Oxford for graduate school and the relevance of the SU(3) shell model for his thesis. He describes his postdoctoral work at the UK Science Research Council, and the opportunities that initially led him to Berkeley to work with David Scott on low energy nuclear structure. Symons provides a history of the Bevatron and the many reasons that compelled him to take a staff position. He describes the challenges in replacing the Bevelac, and the import of the ISABELLE cancellation at Brookhaven on Berkeley’s decisions. He provides detail on the interplay between laboratory experiments and DOE policy decisions and he explains the significant administrative pull of his work for NSAC. Symons reviews broadly the state of U.S. nuclear physics in the 1990s and the value of the APS as a sounding board in shaping policies for the decade. He does the same for rare isotopes in the early 2000s and how the Lab became involved in DUSEL. Symons describes his world as Associate Lab Director and he discusses his interactions with the Lab Director which gave him a high-altitude appreciate for the broad range of research across the Lab. He explains the Lab’s contributions in energy research which stems from Steve Chu’s directorship. At the end of the interview, Symons reflects on the significant changes in the Lab’s scope and mission over his career, the overall trend that once-disparate research areas are now increasingly on a path of convergence, and he conveys optimism on the fundamental discoveries that are within reach for the near future of nuclear physics.