Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (Center) [DESY]

Interviewed by
David Zierler
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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

Elliott Bloom, Professor Emeritus of Particle Physics and Astrophysics at SLAC, recounts his childhood in Brooklyn and then in Los Angeles, and he describes his early interests in physics. He discusses his undergraduate experience at Pomona College where he became interested in particle physics and cyclotrons. Bloom describes his graduate work at Caltech, where he worked under the direction of R.L. Walker and did his thesis experiment on studying gamma ray production of charged pions from hydrogen or deuterium. He discusses his postdoctoral research at SLAC to work with Richard Taylor, who was building spectrometers in End Station A at the end of the linear electron accelerator. Bloom discusses his early interests in online computing and he describes the origins of the Parton model and his collaboration with Joe Ballam on BC-42. He explains his original involvement with axion research and the significance of the DORIS-II storage ring at DESY. Bloom discusses his subsequent work at the SLAC B-factory on PEP-II, he describes his interests in the COBE satellite, and he explains SLAC's entrée into astrophysics. He discusses the collaborative effort with NASA on the GLAST experiment and his focus with DOE support to understand dark matter. At the end of the interview, Bloom reflects on his career trajectory as part of a larger narrative of particle physicists who became engaged in astrophysics later in their careers, and why it is important for physicists to remain open to new avenues of inquiry.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Willy Haeberli, Professor of Physics Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin. Haeberli recounts his childhood in Basel, Switzerland, and he describes his experiences as a student during World War II. He discusses his early interest in physics and his decision to pursue nuclear physics at the University of Basel under the direction of Paul Huber. Haeberli describes his graduate research on the ionization of gasses by alpha particles, and he describes the circumstances leading to his subsequent postdoctoral job at the University of Wisconsin, where he was attracted to work with Raymond Herb in accelerator physics. He explains some of the scientific and cultural adjustments in order to settle in at Madison, and he describes the central questions of the structure of atomic nuclei that propelled nuclear physics at that time. He describes his subsequent research at Duke University before returning to Madison to join the faculty, he describes his many research visits to ETH Zurich, the Max Planck Institute, Fermilab, Saclay, and at DESY in Hamburg, and he offers insight on some of the differences in approach between American and European accelerator labs. Haeberli reflects on his contributions to the study of polarized protons and deuterons and angular momentum assignments. He discusses his work developing gas targets of pure spin polarized hydrogen and deuteron atoms, and he describes the critical support of the DOE and the NSF for this research. Haeberli shares his feelings on being elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and he explains his preference teaching undergraduates to graduate students. At the end of the interview, Haeberli describes how the department of physics at Wisconsin has changes over his decades of service, and he explains how only with the benefit of historical hindsight can one distinguish the truly important advances in the field. 

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Nan Phinney, retired Distinguished Staff Scientist at SLAC. Phinney recounts her childhood in Chicago and her education in Catholic private schools. She describes her undergraduate education at Michigan State where she majored in physics – despite being discouraged by many men that this was not an appropriate field of study for women. Phinney describes the excitement and benefits of focusing on particle physics during such a fundamental era of discovery and she explains her decision to pursue a Ph.D. in physics with Jack Smith at Stony Brook. She discusses her involvement in efforts to discover the Z boson, and she describes her work at CERN. Phinney describes her interest in linear colliders and the circumstances leading to her employment at SLAC. She discusses her initial work on the control system for the SLC and explains how networking issues presented the biggest technical challenge for the project. Phinney describes the international culture of collaboration with projects at CERN and DESY, and she explains the impact of the B factory at SLAC. She discusses her role in the creation of the NLC and the mechanical breakdown leading to the end of the SLC. Phinney describes the origins of the ILC and some of the significant developments in superconductivity in the early 2000s. At the end of the interview, Phinney describes current research on electron-positron colliders, she discusses her work with the APS, and she explains how SLAC has changed both culturally and scientifically over the decades.

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 Stanley Brodsky, Professor Emeritus at SLAC. Brodsky surveys his current projects after his retirement last year following 54 years of service to SLAC; they include new initiatives on hadron physics and his interest in the muon G-2 experiment at Fermilab. He recounts his upbringing in St. Paul, his early interests in electrical engineering, and his decision to stay close to home and attend the University of Minnesota for his undergraduate education. He explains his decision to remain at Minnesota for his thesis research, where he worked under the supervision of Donald Yennie on computing atomic levels from first principles in quantum electrodynamics. Brodsky describes his postdoctoral appointment at Columbia, where he worked with Sam Ting at DESY computing the QED radiative corrections for Bethe-Heitler pair production. He recalls his original contact with Sid Drell and his decision to come to SLAC to join the theory group in support of the many experimental programs in train, and he recounts the November Revolution and Sam Ting’s visits to SLAC. Brodsky describes some of the key differences in East Coast and West Coast physics in the 1970s, and he discusses his collaboration with Peter Lepage at the beginning of QCD’s development. He highlights the importance of thinking beyond conventional wisdom and he references his work on intrinsic heavy quarks to illustrate the point. Brodksy discusses his research on the Higgs VEV and the long range value of the Brodsky-Lepage-Mackenzie procedure, and he reflects on the many surprises in QCD color confinement that he has encountered. He explains the value of supersymmetry in his research and he considers why it has not been seen yet and why Maldacena’s work on AdS/CFT has been revolutionary. Brodsky describes SLAC’s increasing involvement in astrophysics and how he has managed his research agenda by working on many different projects at the same time. At the end of the interview, Brodsky emphasizes the significance of Bjorken scaling, he historicizes the first work in physics that explored beyond the Standard Model, and he reflects on the importance that luck has played in his career, simply by finding himself, at so many junctures, in being at the right place at the right time.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Boleslaw (Bolek) Wyslouch, professor of physics at MIT and Director of the Laboratory for Nuclear Science, and Director of the Bates Laboratory at MIT. Wyslouch explains how the laboratories have been coping during the coronavirus pandemic and he discusses the educational opportunities available for MIT students at the labs. Wyslouch recounts his childhood in postwar Poland, and he explains how his apolitical instincts worked well with his interests in science as a student. He describes his work at CERN, Saclay, and at DESY as an undergraduate, and he conveys his good fortune to be studying physics outside of Poland during the upheavals of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Wyslouch describes meeting Samuel Ting and the subsequent opportunity he made for Wyslouch to continue his research at CERN with Ulrich Becker, and the circumstances leading to his faculty position at MIT. He describes his work on the RHIC accelerator and the impact of Frank Wilczek’s work on QCD, and he explains his ongoing collaborations at CERN. Bolek reflects on his contributions to quark-gluon plasma research and the use of CMS for heavy-ion detection. He cites the quality of his collaborators as the most important ingredient in his successful research endeavors, and he describes his involvement with the LHC and why he will always consider CERN his “mother Lab.” At the end of the interview, Wyslouch assesses how ongoing advances in technology, and in particular, computational techniques and algorithms, will continue to push forward fundamental advances in nuclear and particle physics.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Teleconference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Samuel C.C. Ting, Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Physics at MIT and Guest Professor of the Director General of CERN. Ting describes his long-term, unpaid affiliations with CERN and DESY, he recounts his childhood in Michigan, and he describes the opportunities that led to his parents to pursue graduate degrees at the University of Michigan. He explains why he returned with his parents to China before the Second World War, and he describes his family’s experiences during the war. Ting describes his own decision to return to the United States for his undergraduate studies after his family fled from the mainland to Taiwan in 1948, where he lived for eight years, before enrolling in the engineering program at the University of Michigan. He conveys his love for Michigan football, his near brush with the draft, and he explains his decision to remain at Michigan for graduate school. Ting explains his decision to focus on experimentation after initially considering theory, and he discusses his work on the Bevatron at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley. He describes his dissertation research on pion proton elastic scattering, and his contribution to the finding that that diffraction peak of this scattering does not shrink with increased energy. Ting explains the opportunities that led to his work at CERN to work on proton-proton scattering with Giuseppe Cocconi, and his positive experiences as a junior faculty member at Columbia University. He explains his collaboration with Stanley Brodsky and this connection with his work at DESY, and he relates Feynman’s humorous congratulatory telegram shortly after he won the Nobel Prize on the J particle. Ting explains the significance of this work, and that of Burt Richter at SLAC whose work was entirely independent from Ting’s. He explains his decision to deliver his Nobel acceptance speech in Mandarin, he describes the challenges of distraction owing to the recognition, and he explains how he became interested in space-based experiments. He discusses his increasing involvement with NASA and the Department of Energy (DOE) in pursuing his goal of large-scale experiments, where he has concentrated on measuring the spectrum of electrons. He explains the origins and outlook for the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), and he projects that attaining higher energies will continue to advance fundamental discovery which will serve as complements to land-based accelerator experiments. Ting discusses the discovery of the gluon by the Positron-Electron Tandem Ring Accelerator (PETRA) collaboration, and the influence of his research on the standard electroweak model, and he reflects on what it will take to understand dark matter. At the end of the interview, Ting expresses gratitude for the support he has received from MIT over the course of his career, and he makes the case for why governments should continue to support basic science research, even in fields for which no immediate benefit to humanity is readily apparent. 

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Paul Langacker, professor emeritus of physics and astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania. Langacker recounts his childhood in the Chicago area and his early interest in particle physics. He discusses his education at MIT and his graduate work at Berkeley and he describes the political situation there in 1968 , his work with Owen Chamberlain, and Mahiko Suzuki and the origins of his life-long interest in weak interactions. Langacker explains his work at Rockefeller University, which was building a program in particle physics, and the circumstances leading to his hire at Penn. He talks about his research at DESY and the tenure process, and explains what he worked to accomplish as chair of the department, and in particular, his interest in increasing the diversity of the faculty. Langacker discusses his more recent interest in connecting superstring theory to particle physics during his time at the Institute for Advanced Study. Toward the end of the interview, Langacker shares his views on string theory and its role in achieving a grand unified theory in physics.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
video conference
Abstract

Marcela Carena, Distinguished Scientist and head of the Theory Division at Fermilab, is interviewed by David Zierler. Carena describes her dual position as professor of physics and member of the Fermi and Kavli Institutes at the University of Chicago and she surveys the many areas of Higgs physics in which she is currently working. She recounts her family’s Italian and Spanish heritage and her upbringing in Buenos Aires and the opportunities she pursued as she became interested in science. Carena describes her undergraduate education at Instituto Balseiro where she developed an appreciation for the interplay of theory and experimental high energy physics. She explains her decision to remain for graduate school where she worked with Roberto Peccei and she describes her research at DESY in Germany and her focus on supersymmetry and sphalerons. Marcela describes the importance of meeting Bill Bardeen during her postdoctoral appointment at Purdue and her subsequent research at the Max Planck Institute where she was focused on the LEP collider at CERN. She explains her decision to move to CERN full time and she conveys the impact of the SSC cancellation from the vantage point of CERN. Carena describes the opportunities that led to her staff position at Fermilab where she continued to develop her interests in supersymmetry and Higgs physics. She conveys the impact of the shutdown of the Tevatron and she describes the emotional component of the discovery of the Higgs. Carena explains why her focus on dark matter and electroweak baryogenesis are natural extensions from the Higgs discovery, and she wonders what it will look like if and when we come to understand what dark matter is. She reflects on what has, and has not, been seen at the LHC over the past decade, and she discusses both the scientific and political value in Fermilab supporting an International Relations Directorate. At the end of the interview, Carena describes her recent interests in quantum information and why quantum computers may yield new insights on the early universe, she conveys her pride in Fermilab’s leading efforts to promote diversity and inclusivity in science, and she explains why there is cause for optimism in the quest to understand dark matter.