In this interview, Fabiola Gianotti, Director-General of CERN, reflects on being the first woman in this position and the multi-layered challenges of maintaining operations at CERN during the pandemic. She recounts her upbringing in Milan and the scientific influence of her father, who was a geologist. Gianotti describes her education at the University of Milan and her formative interactions with Carlo Rubbia at CERN. She describes her work on the LEP and ADELPH collaborations and how the cancellation of the SSC affected CERN. Gianotti narrates the origins of the LHC and parallel concentration on supersymmetry and she describes the ATLAS and CMS teams and her advisory work for P5 in the United States. She discusses her election and responsibilities as Spokesperson of ATLAS and she describes the careful process of detecting and analyzing the signals that confirmed the Higgs. Gianotti describes the unique opportunity to engage a global audience given the magnitude and interest in the discovery, and she explains LHC’s planning, post-Higgs, for new physics. She describes the shutdown period that started in 2013 and the circumstances to her being named Director-General in 2013. Gianotti surveys what has, and has not, been detected at the LHC over the past decade, and how dark matter searches at CERN are complementary to those using Xenon detectors. She conveys optimism about the high luminosity upgrade at the LHC and how she frequently operates in political realms given the international nature of CERN. At the end of the interview, Gianotti observes that current projects at the CERN are reminiscent of the buildup to the LHC, and why this bodes well for the future of experimental particle physics.
In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Abraham Seiden, Distinguished Professor Physics Emeritus at UC Santa Cruz. Seiden discusses his current interests in developing silicon detectors for the high luminosity LHC and sensors for the TRIUMF accelerator, and he surveys the current interplay between theory and experiment in particle physics more broadly. He recounts his birth in a displaced persons camp after World War II and his childhood in Brooklyn and then in California, and he explains his decision to go to Columbia for his undergraduate studies. Seiden describes his graduate research at Caltech and then UC Santa Cruz under the direction of Clemens Heusch to conduct research on deep inelastic muon scattering at SLAC. He discusses his subsequent research on the intersecting storage ring at CERN and he describes how the “November Revolution” at SLAC resonated at CERN. Seiden describes the opportunities that led to him joining the faculty at Santa Cruz and his involvement on the high PT photon experiment at Fermilab. He recounts his interest in Higgs research and the leadership of George Trilling and he explains the origins of the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics. Seiden discusses his advisory work for P5 and the broader state of play of particle physics in the United States and he describes the impact on CERN following the cancellation of the SSC. He discusses the import of the ATLAS upgrade, his involvement with LIGO, and his contributions to BaBar at SLAC. Seiden narrates the run-up and the impact of the Higgs discovery at CERN, and its impact on searching for physics beyond the Standard Model. He surmises how a particle physics approach will help to unlock the mystery of dark matter, and he explains his motivations to write an introductory textbook on particle physics. At the end of the interview, Seiden compares the opportunities in the field that were available to him as a graduate student as opposed to his own students, and he explains why working on the SSC was the most fun he’s had in the field, despite its ultimate fate.
In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Vera Lüth, Professor Emerita at SLAC. Lüth recounts her childhood in Lithuania and her German family background, and her precarious experiences during and after World War II. She describes her undergraduate studies at Mainz University in the Federal Republic of Germany, and what it was like as one of the few women enrolled in science classes. Lüth explains her decision to transfer to the University of Heidelberg and her formal introduction to experimental particle physics at the Institute for High Energy Physics and then at CERN. She describes her research using bubble chambers to analyze pion-proton interactions, and the formative influence of Jack Steinberger during her time at CERN, and she offers a precis on his accomplishments up to the time of their collaboration. Lüth describes her research on signal decays involving charged particles which was located at CERN while she was a graduate student from Heidelberg, and she situates her research within the broader advances occurring in experimental particle physics at the time. She explains the opportunities leading to her postgraduate research at SLAC, she conveys the excitement of joining the Lab right at the time of the “November Revolution” of 1974, and she describes watching Panofsky walking around saying “Oh my God, Oh my God...” Lüth describes the independent and concurrent discovery made by Sam Ting at Brookhaven, and she explains the importance of theorists’ calculations, including those by Dave Jackson in understanding the resonances. She explains the process leading to the formal observation of “open charm” mesons, her early collaborations with Martin Perl, and the significance of the Mark II data derived at SPEAR. Lüth explains her decision to join the California Seismic Safety Commission project and some of the disconnects with the Department of Energy that were suggestive of the eventual fact that the endeavor was not viable. She discusses the origins of the BaBar project and its search for CP violation in B meson decays and she explains why laws of conservation have long fascinated her. Lüth explains her decision to retire at a relatively young age, and she reviews her numerous contributions in an advisory capacity over the past decade. At the end of the interview, Lüth reflects on her major contributions to the field, the larger-than-life stature of Panofsky, the foundational research of particle physics as an entrée to cosmology, and she describes some of the major and exciting future endeavors at SLAC.