In this interview, Harvey Lynch, retired and formerly Assistant Director in the Research Division of SLAC is interviewed by David Zierler. He recounts his upbringing in California and his early interests in science, and he describes his undergraduate experience at MIT, where David Frisch proved to be a formative influence for his work in particle physics. Lynch discusses his work at the Cherenkov light ring, and he explains his decision to pursue graduate work at Stanford to work with David Ritson on inelastic electron-proton scattering. He describes the origins of SLAC, and he cites the mysteries surrounding quarks and SU3 symmetries as among the most important research questions in the field at that time. Lynch discusses his motivation to do postdoctoral research at CERN, where he worked with Carlo Rubbia on CP violation, and he recounts Burt Richter’s offer to join SLAC in 1968. He describes his early work on planar spark chambers and his longtime involvement in the SPEAR project which aimed to take a new approach to elementary particle physics. Lynch details the operational and technical challenges to get SPEAR up and running, and how it epitomized SLAC’s independence in making internal decisions without DOE approval in the early days of the Lab. He describes witnessing the “November Revolution” of 1974 and what this meant for SLAC and particle physics generally. Lynch explains his decision to join the PETRA collaboration and the TASSO detector at DESY. He describes his reasons to return to the U.S., first at UC Santa Barbara until he was recruited back to SLAC, where he witnessed significant changes as a result of Burt Richter succeeding Wolfgang “Pief” Panofsky as director. Lynch discusses his concurrent work on PEP physics, SLC design work, and the proposal for the international SLD project. He explains his work with the Center for International Security and Arms Control at Stanford and his involvement with the SDI defense initiative, and he describes his involvement in the design phase of the SSC project. Lynch offers a post-mortem on the SSC cancellation, and expresses relief that he was able to return to SLAC, where he joined the BaBar project and served as chairman of the Radiation Safety Committee. He describes his last seven years at SLAC during which he worked exclusively on administrative matters, and at the end of the interview, Lynch discusses his work for the National Academy of Science to study boost-phase missile defense.
Interview with Mikhail Shifman, Ida Cohen Fine Professor of Theoretical Physics at the William I. Fine Theoretical Physics Institute at the University of Minnesota. The interview begins with Shifman’s thoughts on the differences between the physics community in Russia versus the US, as well as his thoughts on the future of supersymmetry. Then Shifman turns to his family history and memories of growing up Jewish in Russia under Communist rule. He describes his early interests in math and physics, and he recalls that reading Feynman’s lectures (translated into Russian) swayed him toward physics. Shifman recounts his undergraduate education at the Moscow Institute for Physics and Technology, where he had access to many great Russian physicists. He discusses his decision to focus on high energy physics and his graduate studies at the Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics (ITEP). Shifman recalls the November Revolution and its implications for his PhD research which led to the penguin mechanism. Then Shifman discusses being hired by ITEP after his PhD, and he overviews his research areas such as gluon condensate, axions, and his work connecting Yang-Mills with supersymmetry. Shifman recalls his decision to immigrate to the US and the offer that led him to the University of Minnesota, as well as the cultural shift and transition that came with that move. He recounts the honor of receiving the Sakurai Prize, as well as his many book projects. Toward the end of the interview, Shifman talks about his more recent work in supersymmetric solitons, shares his thoughts on the future of the Standard Model, and reflects on the impact of SVZ sum rules.
Interview with A.J. Stewart Smith, the Class of 1909 Professor of Physics, emeritus, at Princeton University, who also served as the university vice president for the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Smith begins the interview with an overview of his affiliations with SNOLAB, CERN, and Italian Nuclear and Particle Physics. He recaps the effects of the pandemic on experimental particle physics. Smith then summarizes his family history and his childhood in Canada, where he became interested in the sciences in high school. Smith recalls his undergraduate studies in physics at University of British Columbia, where he also earned a master’s degree, as well as his decision to pursue a PhD at Princeton. He describes working on the Princeton-Penn Accelerator with his advisor Pierre Piroue, and the subsequent offer of a fellowship at DESY working with Sam Ting on QED. Smith recounts his move back to Princeton to join the faculty, and he describes the “bipartisanship” between experimentalists and theorists at the time. He discusses the origins of the Chicago-Princeton collaboration at Fermilab, his involvement with E-787 experiment at Brookhaven, and his time as technical coordinator and spokesperson for the BaBar experiment. The interview concludes with Smith’s recollections of his time as Princeton’s first dean of research, as well as his reflections on times when theory has led experimentation, and vice versa.
Interview with Oscar Wallace Greenberg, Professor Emeritus and Research Professor at the University of Maryland in College Park, and Adjunct Professor at Rockefeller University. Greenberg discusses growing up in New Jersey as the child of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. He recalls drawing pictures of the stars as a young boy and his early love for mathematics. Greenberg then speaks on his decision to attend Rutgers, where he began as a math major but switched to physics. He recounts his transition to graduate school at Princeton, where he studied with Arthur Wightman and completed his thesis on the asymptotic condition in quantum field theory. The discussion then turns to Greenberg’s post-doctoral positions at Brandeis and MIT. He recalls his early exposure to quarks and the research which eventually led to the development of quark color. Greenberg also reflects on why the concept of quarks took a while to be accepted by the wider physics community. He then recounts his time in the Air Force in the late 1950s and his subsequent positions at Rockefeller University, the Weizmann Institute, and Tel Aviv University. Greenberg speaks on collaborations he’s had over the years, such as those with Eugene Wigner and Albert Messiah, as well as his meetings and conversations with Einstein during his time at Princeton. He ends the interview with his thoughts on what remains unknown regarding quarks, and he encourages physics students today to focus on biophysics.
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 Belle 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.
In this interview, Fred Gilman, Buhl Professor of Theoretical Physics at Carnegie Mellon University discusses his career as a theoretical physicist and hopes for the future. He discusses being a postdoc in the theoretical physics group at SLAC and his work on deep inelastic scattering. He details his involvement with the Superconducting Super Collider and the eventual decision to shut down its construction. Gilman reflects on his involvement with the Snowmass Conference as well as his work on the High-Energy Physics Advisory Panel. Lastly, Gilman speaks about his excitement for future discoveries from the Vera Rubin Observatory and his hopes for Carnegie Mellon and their involvement with physics.
Interview with David G. Hitlin, Professor of Physics at California Institute of Technology. Hitlin discusses his thesis work on high-resolution muonic X-ray studies with his advisor and mentor Chien-Shiung Wu, and his subsequent transition to elementary particle physics at SLAC. He relates his experiences with kaon physics as a member of Mel Schwartz’s group at SLAC and Stanford. As a member of the Richter group at SLAC he worked on the Mark II experiment and then founded the Mark III experiment at SPEAR. After moving to Caltech in 1979, he worked on the SLD experiment at the SLC and then as founding Spokesman of the BABAR experiment at PEP-II. The interview ends with a discussion of his current involvements with the Fermilab experiment Mu2e and the nascent SLAC experiment LDMX.
Interview with Pierre Sikivie, Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Florida. Sikivie explains how the social isolation imposed by the pandemic has been beneficial for his research, and he recounts his childhood in Belgium and his family’s experiences during World War II. He discusses his undergraduate work and his natural inclination toward theoretical physics, and the opportunities that led to his graduate work at Yale under the mentorship of Feza Gürsey. Sikivie explains that his initial interests were in elementary particle physics which was the topic of his research on Grand Unification and the E6 group. He describes his postdoctoral research at the University of Maryland where he worked on CP violation, and he explains his decision to pursue his next postdoctoral position at SLAC to work on non-Abelian classical theories. Sikivie explains that his interests in cosmology and astrophysics only developed during his subsequent work at CERN, and the circumstances that led to axion research becoming his academic focal point. He describes his appointment to the faculty at the University of Florida and when he became sure that axions would prove to be a career-long pursuit. He narrates his invention of the axion haloscope and how this research evolved into the ADMX collaboration. Sikivie explains why he was, and remains, optimistic about the centrality of axion research to the discovery of dark matter, and he discusses the import of QCD on axion physics over the past thirty years. At the end, Sikivie surveys some of the challenges working in a field whose promise remains in some way hypothetical but which nonetheless holds promise for fundamental discovery.
In this interview, Fred Gilman, Buhl Professor of Theoretical Physics at Carnegie Mellon University discusses his career as a theoretical physicist and hopes for the future. He details his early passion for theoretical physics and his decision to attend Michigan State University for his undergraduate degree. He discusses attending Princeton University for graduate school and his thesis on Baryon Electromagnetic Mass Differences with his advisor Murph Goldberger. Gilman describes his time at Caltech as an NSF postdoctoral fellow. Gilman reflects on his involvement with the Snowmass Conference as well as his work on the High-Energy Physics Advisory Panel.
Interview with Tsuneyoshi (Tune) Kamae, Professor Emeritus, both of the University of Tokyo, Department of Physics and of SLAC. Kamae discusses his current work configuring digital devices on science education for the visually impaired, and he recounts his childhood in Himeji and then Osaka, Japan and his early memories of World War II. He describes his undergraduate education at Kyoto University and his developing interest in physics and the opportunity that led to his acceptance at Princeton to work with Val Fitch on the root cause of CP violation. Kamae describes his postdoctoral work at KEK in Japan, where he studied the internal motion of the proton inside the nucleus, and he explains the circumstances that led him to LBL and then SLAC to work on the Time Projection Chamber. He discusses his involvement with the SSC planning and how he became involved in X-ray astronomy. Kamae discusses SLAC’s embrace of astrophysics under the leadership of Burt Richter, and he reflects on some of the cultural differences in physics environments in the United States and Japan. At the end of the interview Kamae shares his hopes for the future of the education program he is developing, and he discusses some of the strategic challenges Japan is facing in light of its demographic trends.