Interview with Katherine Freese, Director of the Weinberg Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Jeff and Gail Kodosky Endowed Chair in Physics at UT Austin, and the Director of the Texas Center for Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics (TCCAP). Freese begins the interview with an overview of terminology, such as cosmology, astrophysics, and astroparticle physics and the delineation between these fields. Then she describes her childhood in Bethesda, Maryland where both her parents were scientists. Freese recalls beginning college at age 16, starting at MIT and then transferring to Princeton. She recounts taking time off after her undergraduate studies, before deciding to pursue graduate studies. Freese began grad school at Columbia but switched to the University of Chicago to work on neutrino physics with David Schramm. She discusses her first post-doc at Harvard, working on WIMPs and dark matter, and then her second post-doc at Santa Barbara with Frank Wilczek. Freese then recalls returning to MIT as a professor where she worked with Alan Guth and Josh Frieman on cosmic inflation. She talks about her transition to the University of Michigan and the exciting developments in cosmology at the time, as well as her introduction to dark energy. Freese describes her more recent involvement with NASA’s SPIDER experiment, as well as the honor of being named to the National Academy of Sciences. Freese discusses the amazing opportunity of being the Director at the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics and ends the interview with her hopes for the future of cosmology, namely her hope for finding dark matter.
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Interview with Marc Kamionkowski, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University. He discusses his family heritage of Ashkenazi Jews who left Eastern Europe for Argentina, and his father’s medical research which took the family to Cleveland. Kamionkowski recounts his childhood in Shaker Heights, and he describes his undergraduate work at Washington University, where he switched from pre-med to physics to work with Marty Israel and Joe Klarmann. Despite his lack of preparation, Kamionkowski explains his admission to the University of Chicago, and he describes “the bug” that made him focus on physics and drive to succeed in quantum mechanics and understand quantum field theory. He discusses his thesis research under the direction of Michael Turner on energetic neutrinos from WIMP annihilation in the sun. Kamionkowski discusses his post-doctoral research at the Institute for Advanced Study where he was in Frank Wilczek’s particle theory group. He describes his first faculty appointment at Columbia and how experimental advances had opened up opportunities in cosmology. He explains his decision to move to Caltech because of its strength in theoretical astrophysics and where he became director of the Moore Center. Kamionkowski discusses his subsequent move to Johns Hopkins, and he surveys his recent projects on the Hubble Tension and early dark energy. At the end of the interview, Kamionkowski explains why he has always valued research that bridges the divide between theory and experimentation and why he expects this will continue to inform his broad research agenda.
In this interview, Sheldon Glashow, Professor of Physics Emeritus at Harvard University and Professor of Physics Emeritus at Boston University, reflects on his career and Nobel Prize winning work. He discusses his childhood friendship with Steve Weinberg and his passion for science from a young age. He reflects on his decision to attend Cornell University for undergrad and details the physics curriculum at the time. Glashow describes his time as a graduate student at Harvard University studying under Julian Schwinger. He discusses his time as a post-doc at the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Copenhagen working on the SU(2)XU(1) theory, which would later win him a Nobel prize in 1979. He speaks about working with Murray Gell-Mann while at Caltech and their collaboration on a paper together. Glashow details being hired as a full professor at Harvard University. He discusses his frequent collaboration with Alvaro De Rujula. He discusses the concept of string theory and how it has evolved over the years. He discusses the loss of the superconducting super collider and reflects on where particle and theoretical physics may be today had it been built. Lastly, Glashow reflects on his goals for "Inference: International Review of Science", of which he is the editor-at-large.
In this interview, Bernard Sadoulet, Professor of the Graduate School at the University of California, Berkeley, discusses his time working in France as well as the study of dark matter. He discusses getting his Master’s degree in theoretical physics at the University of Paris in Orsay, and how this background was beneficial for his interest in experimental physics. Sadoulet speaks about his time working at CERN as part of the official committee managing the collaboration between Europe and the Soviet Union. He also details his work on the UA1 experiment while at CERN. He describes his role in the “Wise Men Committee,” and there task of producing a report about civil nuclear programs in France. Sadoulet discusses his time as a postdoc at Berkeley and his discovery of the Chi states. He speaks about his growing interest in dark matter in the 1980s and the interest he had in the possibility of building detectors to search for dark matter particles in the halo of our galaxy. He describes his collaborations with Blas Cabrera Navarro at the Center for Particle and Astrophysics. Lastly, he reflects upon how to meaningfully involve the public in science.
Interview with Charles Prescott, Professor Emeritus at SLAC. Prescott discusses his activities in physics since retiring in 2006, and he conveys his interest in the muon anomaly results from the g-2 experiment at Fermilab in light of his longstanding work in spin physics. He offers a wide perspective on the creation of the Standard Model and when the field began to search for new physics beyond it, and he recounts his childhood in Oklahoma. Prescott discusses his undergraduate education at Rice and his interests in physics, and he describes the opportunities that led to his graduate admission to Caltech, where Bob Walker advised his thesis research on the eta meson. Prescott conveys the importance of Steve Weinberg’s work on particle theory in the late 1960s, and he describes the circumstances that led him to SLAC after a brief appointment at UC Santa Cruz. He describes joining Group A, which was led by Dick Taylor, and how he organized the first parity violation experiment. He discusses the E95 and E122 experiments, and he describes early advances in understanding the nucleon sub-structure. Prescott explains his proposal to add polarized beams to the SLC and a new drift chamber for the SLD, and he discusses the origins of the DELCO collaboration. He describes his tenure as leader of Group A and then as Associate Director of the Research Division, and as chair of the International Spin Physics symposium. Prescott discusses his work on SLAC’s Enriched Xenon Observatory, and he prognosticates the poor political and budgetary prospects of future linear accelerators. At the end of the interview, Prescott reflects on receiving the Panofsky Prize, and he segments SLAC into its constituent historical eras as defined by the dominant experiments over the decades.
Interview with Gerard 't Hooft, University Professor of Physics (Emeritus) at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. 't Hooft considers the possibility that the g-2 muon anomaly experiment at Fermilab is suggestive of new physics, and he reflects broadly on the current shortcomings in our understanding of quantum mechanics and general relativity. 't Hooft recounts his childhood in postwar Holland and the influence of his great uncle, the Nobel Prize winner Frits Zernike and his uncle, the theoretical physicist Nico van Kampen. He describes his undergraduate education at Utrecht University where he got to know Martinus Veltman, with whom he would pursue a graduate degree and ultimately share the Nobel Prize. 't Hooft explains the origins of what would become the Standard Model and the significance of Yang-Mills fields and Ken Wilson’s theory of renormalization. He describes Veltman’s pioneering use of computers to calculate algebraic manipulations and why questions of scaling were able to be raised for the first time. 't Hooft discusses his postdoctoral appointment at CERN, his ideas about grouping Feynman diagrams together, and how he became involved in quantum gravity research and Bose condensation. He explains the value in studying instantons for broader questions in QCD, the significance of Hawking’s work on the black hole information paradox, the holographic principle, and why he has diverged with string theorists. 't Hooft describes being present at the start of supersymmetry, and the growing “buzz” that culminated in winning the Nobel Prize. He describes his overall interest in the past twenty years in thinking more deeply about quantum mechanics and he places the foundational disagreement between Einstein and Bohr in historical context. At the end of the interview, 't Hooft surveys the limitations that prevent us from understanding how to merge quantum mechanics and general relativity and why this will require an understanding of how to relate the set of all integer numbers to phenomena of the universe.
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.
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.
In this interview, Lee Pondrom, Professor of Physics Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, recounts his childhood in Dallas, San Antonio and Houston and describes his early interest in science. He explains his motivations to attend Southern Methodist University, where he pursued a degree in physics. Pondrom discusses his graduate work at the University of Chicago where the long-range influence of the Manhattan Project remained strong, even in the early and mid-1950s. He describes his summer research work at Los Alamos, and his thesis research on cyclotrons and pi mesons under the direction of Albert Crewe and Uli Kruse. Pondrom conveys the feeling of excitement at the discovery of parity violation while he was a graduate student, his postdoctoral work on the Nevis cyclotron while at Columbia, and he describes his Air Force service after he defended his dissertation. He describes the opportunities leading to his tenure at the University of Wisconsin and a research agenda that included long-term projects at the Chicago cyclotron, and at Fermilab and at Argonne. Pondrom discusses his contributions to CP violation, hyperon decay and how computers have been useful over the course of the career. He describes the origins of Fermilab and his experiences at Madison during the student unrest during the late 1960s, where bombers targeted science buildings. Pondrom discusses the significance of the E8 experiment as an extension of the Garwin-Lederman experiment and the origins of the Tevatron project. He explains the ups and downs of U.S. high energy physics during the SSC years and he surmises what would be known now in particle physics had the SSC been completed. At the end of the interview, Pondrom describes his extensive collaborations in Russia and his study of Soviet-era physics, including his work on Stalin’s nuclear diplomacy.