Stanford Linear Accelerator Center

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Interview dates
September 9, September 25, October 9, October 19, November 3, November 9, November 23, November 30, December 7, and December 14, 2020
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, Ernest Moniz, Emeritus Professor and Special Adviser to the President of MIT, discusses his time as U.S. Secretary of Energy under Barack Obama. Moniz discusses his time as an undergraduate at Boston College working under Joe Chen and their efforts building a resonant cavity. He speaks about his experience as a graduate student at Stanford University working Dirk Walecka on the study of theoretical condensed matter physics and how it led to his eventual publishing of a paper about using a modified fermi gas to understand deep inelastic scattering. Moniz describes his time working in Washington with the Office of Science and Technology Policy and how the OSTP became marginalized under the George W. Bush and Trump Administrations. He discusses the Wen Ho Lee scandal and subsequent development of the National Nuclear Security Administration and how it has evolved throughout the years. Moniz talks about his partnership with John Deutch at MIT on a policy-oriented study of the future of nuclear power which eventually became known as the series, The Future of... He details his time working in the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology during the Obama Administration and his eventual role as the Secretary of Energy. Moniz Discusses the development of the Iran Nuclear Deal and the cooperation of the countries involved, as well as how the U. S’s relationship with Iran has changed over the years. He reflects on how the Trump Administration undid several Obama era initiatives pertaining to energy and climate and the lasting impacts of those actions. He also discusses becoming an advisor to Saudi Arabia and the planned mega-city of the Tabuk region. Lastly, Moniz reflects upon the challenges the Biden Administration may face moving towards a more decarbonized energy future.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Blas Cabrera, Stanley Wojcicki Chair Professor of Physics at Stanford. Cabrera recounts his family’s Spanish heritage, he discusses being a third-generation physicist, and he explains the circumstances of his family’s arrival to the United States when he was five. He describes his childhood in Charlottesville, where his father taught at the University of Virginia’s Department of Physics. Cabrera describes his own undergraduate experience at UVA and the opportunities that led to his graduate admission at Stanford to work with Bill Fairbank. He discusses his research on relativistic corrections to the Cooper mass pairs and on developing low magnetic fields. Cabrera conveys the influence of Shelly Glashow’s ideas about the possibility that dark matter is magnetically charged particles, and he describes his postdoctoral work on the GP-B project. Cabrera describes the Valentine’s Day event in 1982 where there was initial excitement that he had detected a magnetic monopole, and he explains his subsequent focus on WIMPs and the broader search for dark matter. He describes his work on the international CDMS collaboration, he explains the transition from CDMS I to CDMS II, and he reviews how the project understands its goals in light of the ongoing mystery of dark matter. Cabrera discusses his tenure as department chair at Stanford and as director of the Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory. At the end of interview, Cabrera reflects on accepting that he did not detect a magnetic monopole, and he surveys the accomplishments and future prospects of CDMS.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Thomas Appelquist, Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics at Yale University. Appelquist recounts his upbringing in rural Iowa and then Indiana, where he attended Catholic high school. He describes his undergraduate experience at Illinois Benedictine College and explains his attraction to attend a small school for college. Appelquist discusses his decision to attend Cornell for his PhD, and recalls that, relative to others in his cohort who went to larger schools, he had the most catching up to do in quantum mechanics. He explains the development of his thesis topic under the direction of Don Yennie, which focused on aspects of renormalization theory using the Feynman parametric approach. Appelquist contextualizes some of the broader questions in quantum field theory and quantum electrodynamics at this time, and he describes the opportunities that led him to SLAC for his postdoctoral research. He describes his interests there as focused on theories of the weak interactions, and he describes his initial faculty appointment at Harvard where he joined the particle theory group led by Shelly Glashow and Sidney Coleman. Appelquist discusses his close collaboration with Helen Quinn on how to renormalize Yang-Mills theories, and he explains his decision to take a tenured position at Yale in consideration of the culture at Harvard, where the prospects of tenure were minimal. He describes the revolutionary discoveries of asymptotic freedom, QCD, and the “November Revolution” at SLAC and Brookhaven at the time. Appelquist describes his research and administrative activities to advance the particle theory group at Yale, and his overall efforts to improve the department as chair and in particular building up the condensed matter theory group. He discusses his tenure as Dean of the Graduate School and his long-term involvement with the Aspen Center. At the end of the interview, Appelquist describes his current interests in lattice gauge theory and explains why he expects that physics will see double beta decay in the next generation of experiments.

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

Interview with Malcolm Roy Beasley, Sidney and Theodore Rosenberg Professor of Applied Physics, Emeritus, at Stanford. Beasley recounts his passion for basketball in high school and the opportunities that led to his undergraduate study at Cornell, where he describes his focus on engineering physics as just the right blend of fundamental and applied research. He describes his relationship with Watt Webb, who would become his graduate advisor, and the origins of BCS theory. Beasley discusses his work taking magnetization measurements on type-II superconductors and his thesis research on flux creep and resistance. He discusses his postdoctoral appointment working with Mike Tinkham at Harvard and the developments leading to reduced dimensional superconductivity. Beasley explains the technological implications in the fluctuations of the order parameter, and he describes the speed with which Harvard made him a faculty offer. He discusses the circumstances that led to him joining the faculty at Stanford, his immediate connection with Ted Geballe, and his work on A15 superconductors. Beasley explains the significance of the 1976 Applied Superconductivity Conference and the important work in the field coming out of the Soviet Union at the time. He conveys the excitement regarding amorphous silicon and how the KT transition in superconductors became feasible. Beasley describes his interest in thermal fluctuation limits and coupled oscillators, and he describes Aharon Kapitulnik’s arrival at Stanford and the origins of the “KGB” group. He describes the group’s work on alloyed-based model systems and his idea to study high-resistance SNS Josephson junctions. Beasley explains “Pasteur’s quadrant” and why the KGB group was so well-attuned to dealing with it, and he discusses the impact of computational theory on the field and specifically that of Josephson junctions on digital electronics. He surmises what quantum superconductivity might look like, and he describes his work as dean and as founding director of GLAM, and some of the inherent challenges in the “trifurcation” at Stanford between the Departments of Physics and Applied Physics and SLAC. Beasley discusses his leadership at APS and the issue of corporate reform, and he explains his role in the Schön commission and what it taught him about scientific integrity. At the end of the interview, Beasley reflects on some of the “forgotten heroes” in the long history of superconductivity, he attempts to articulate his love for physics, and he explains why the achievements of the KGB group represent more than the sum of its parts.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Marvin Weinstein, Chief Science Officer of Quantum Insights, and emeritus physicist of SLAC. Weinstein describes the origins of Quantum Insights in partnership with David Horn and the development of a data mining algorithm called Dynamic Quantum Clustering (DQC). He recounts his upbringing in Brooklyn, his early interests in physics, and his undergraduate education at Columbia. He describes the big issues in physics at the time, including the two-neutrino experiment, and he explains his decision to remain at Columbia for his PhD to study under Gerald Feinberg. Weinstein explains how he became a postdoctoral student at the Institute of Advanced Study with the endorsement of T.D. Lee to work with Roger Dashen on K13 lepton decays. He describes his subsequent faculty appointments at Yeshiva University and then NYU, and he discusses the opportunities that led to him joining the theory group at SLAC. Weinstein describes his work on PCAC and the Higgs mechanism, and he explains how DQC originated from his interests in quantum mechanics. He explains his subsequent work in lattice field theory and then core and condensed matter physics, and he describes the changing budgetary environment at SLAC over the course of his career. At the end of the interview, Weinstein conveys optimism that his focus on the health industry will demonstrate that the adoption of DQC and its ability to analyze data will lead to better health outcomes across a spectrum of ailments.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Location
Video conference
Abstract

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Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Stanley Wojcicki, professor emeritus in the Department of Physics at Stanford. Wojcicki recounts his family’s experiences in war-time Poland and his father’s work for the Polish government-in-exile in London. He discusses his family’s postwar escape to Sweden from the Communists before their passage to the United States. Wojcicki discusses his undergraduate experience at Harvard and the opportunities that came available as a result of Sputnik in 1957. He explains his decision to pursue his graduate research at Berkeley under the direction of Art Rosenfeld, and his realization at the time that Berkeley was at the forefront in the revolution of experimental elementary particle physics headed by Luis Alvarez and the bubble chamber technique used by his group. Wojcicki explains how SU(3) transitioned from a mathematical concept to a central component of particle physics, and he describes his postdoctoral work at Berkeley Laboratory and his NSF fellowship at CERN to work on K-meson beam experiments. He discusses his faculty appointment at Stanford and his close collaboration with Mel Schwartz using spark chambers. Wojcicki describes his advisory work for Fermilab and for HEPAP, and the controversy surrounding the ISABELLE project and the initial site and design planning of the SSC. He explains some of the early warning signs of the project’s eventual cancellation, and his work looking at charm particles at Fermilab from produced muons. Wojcicki explains that the endowed chairs named in his honor at Stanford were a retirement gift from his daughter Anne and her husband, Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Wojcicki reflects on his long career at Stanford, and he describes how the physics department has changed over the years and how government supported science has evolved. At the end of the interview, Wojcicki contrasts the sense of fundamental discoveries that permeated his early career, and he cites neutrino physics as a potentially promising area of significant discovery into the future.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Sally Dawson, Senior Scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory and head of the high energy theory group there. Dawson recounts her childhood in Cleveland where her father was a rocket scientist for NASA. She describes her undergraduate education at Duke and how she came to focus on physics. Dawson cites the formative influence of Howard Georgi during her graduate work on proton decay and precision calculations at Harvard. She discusses her postdoctoral research in the theory group at Fermilab and her focus on some of the theoretical implications of the Tevatron project. Dawson surveys the research on supersymmetry and the Higgs mass at that time, and she explains her decision to join the scientific staff at Brookhaven where Mike Creutz and Bill Marciano were doing research of interest to her. Dawson discusses her long-term efforts to search for new physics beyond the Standard Model and she describes her book the Higgs Hunter’s Guide. She surveys what is known and unknown about the Higgs boson, and she discusses the g-2 muon experiment at Brookhaven and its relation to the current experiment at Fermilab. Dawson explains the value of the Snowmass process in achieving a high-level and future-oriented view of where the field is headed, and why the discovery of the Higgs demonstrated the overall accuracy of the Standard Model. She surveys the new questions that can be probed following the Higgs discovery and the complementary nature of neutrino precision measurements for this research. At the end of the interview, Dawson discusses her outreach efforts to emphasize that particle theory is not “dead,” why she sees advisory work as a vital service to the field, and why over the course of her career, experimentalists have provided more guidance to theorists, and not vice-versa.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
video conference
Abstract

In this interview, Michael Peskin discusses: his childhood in Philadelphia; Alan Luther; particle physics at Cornell; relationship with David Politzer; Leonard Susskind; reactions to Gabriele Veneziano’s string theory paper; overview of Ken Wilson’s career and publications; Thirring model; the Harvard Society of Fellows; Nambu-Jona-Lasinio model; quark confinement work; thinking Beyond-the-Standard-Model (BSM); the problem of electroweak symmetry breakage; Stanley Brodsky and Peter Lepage; work on technicolor models to try to explain the quark and lepton mass spectrum; involvement in discussions around the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC); interest in e+e- colliders; collaboration with Bryan Lynn; question of the mass of the top quark; developing the Introduction to Quantum Field Theory textbook with Daniel Schroeder; impact of the collapse of the SSC on physics research; involvement in planning discussions for the International Linear Collider (ILC); movement into cosmology and astrophysics; dark sector theories; reaction to the term “God particle;” discussion of his book Concepts of Elementary Particle Physics; explanations of various views of the top quark; experiences working with Stanford graduate students; changes at SLAC and its contributions to the field; topics in string theory; AdS/CFT duality; BaBar and Bell experiments and CP violation; current work on electroweak symmetry breaking in Randall-Sundrum models; ILC as the future of high energy physics and physics BSM; China’s proposed Circular Electron Positron Collider (CEPC); technical details of proposed Future Circular Collider (FCC); plasma wake field accelerators; work on particle physics website for Michael Cooke of the DOE; and the technological contributions of particle physics, especially in regards to informatics development, machine learning, and unique sensor development. Toward the end of the interview, Peskin reflects on the utility and limitations of the Standard Model, and details the most likely opportunities for discovery, especially those made possible through the construction of an e+e- collider.