Outliers; A book review

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or my brush with physics immortality, 1966 - 1974

by Patrick Walden, July 2011
Success is mostly hard work, but you are lucky to get it
Success is mostly hard work, but you are lucky to get it
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Outliers is a book written by Malcolm Gladwell who manages to get everyone of his books on the New York Times top 10 best seller list every time he publishes. This book is no exception. In fact it has done considerably better than his more recent book, What the Dog Saw, because the latter is now off the top 10 whereas Outliers is still on it. There should not be any surprise in this. Outliers reads much more smoothly than What the Dog Saw.

Outliers immediately hit a chord with me because its hypothesis is what I have been saying for years. Successful people are not the sole authors of their success, but happen to be the people who find themselves at the right place, at the right time. However this is not enough, they also have to be ready to see the opportunity, and seize it with vengeance. The ability to seize the day depends on when you were born, the circumstances of the culture and family to whom you were born, and hard work. The last item is the 10,000 hours of hard slogging Gladwell says one must put into the field in which one will excel in order to be ready for the opportunity when it strikes. The trouble is that one never knows when it will strike if ever. In other words, people, who are successful, are successful because of the proper skill set and pure blind luck! I know it. I was almost there myself, but I missed it because of a bad decision and not enough determination to overcome it. I did not know it was a bad decision when I made it. It was only apparent years later.

My decision was made in 1966 at UBC. I was just finishing my B.Sc. in physics. We were advised in a class on classical mechanics, given by Malcolm MacMillan, to pursue a graduate degree in experimental physics. Everyone wanted to go into theoretical physics and not enough wanted to take experimental physics. The jobs were in experimental physics. You would have a tough time finding a job as a theorist. It was at that moment I decided to become an experimentalist. It was a bad choice. As far as I could discern, the disparity in experimentalist jobs to theorist jobs was never that large. The true disparity was at the beginning of graduate school. The students who wanted to become theorists outnumbered those who wanted to become experimenters by about 10 to 1. Consequentially it was a rat race between the aspiring young theorists to secure an adviser who would take them on. You had to show some good ideas and abilities for an adviser to accept you. Those who failed to do so were advised to become experimenters.[1] I believe, however, I would have succeeded in this rat race. I always had a theoretical bent, and I have never not been able to solve a physics problem once I put my mind to it. I was never really an experimentalist.[2]

At Caltech I was given the opportunity to participate in the leading edge of particle physics of the day. This is part of Gladwell's being at the right place at the right time. I was there because of the home environment and culture into which I was born and the luck to get a Caltech acceptance. I was further endowed with luck when I landed an experiment on pi-minus photoproduction using the Caltech Synchrotron under my adviser, Robert L. Walker[3]. My partner, Paul Sheffler, and I ran the experiment for hours and hours collecting a ton of data. There was no experimental apparatus to build. It had been developed by previous grad students[4] to run experiments on pi-plus and pi-zero photoproduction. There was a recoil counter to build, but that was pawned off onto a less senior grad student. Thus I had nothing to do except collect data and work on data analysis. And this I did.[5]

The Caltech Synchrotron
The Caltech Synchrotron
While collecting data I worked on how to go from data rates to cross sections. I worked out novel ways to account for inefficiencies, backgrounds, etc. in ways that I thought were much superior to those of my predecessors. I also developed a monte carlo integration technique which would properly calculate the constant to convert a data rate into a cross section. I ran a computer program to calculate every constant we would need, so that as soon as the run was finished we could get a cross section. It was fantastic! Nowadays, using computers, it takes years to go from data to cross sections.

We kept a binder of cross section graphs and plotted each result as we got it. We gradually built up a picture of what was going on with pi-minus photoproduction. Our adviser, Robert Walker, was very involved in the Caltech administration and left us mostly to our own devices.
One day he walked in, took a look at our binder, said, "Oh my goodness", grabbed the binder, and walked off.
Next day he came in, and said, "you guys are doing a really great experiment".
Apparently that previous day and evening Walker grabbed a pile of recent preprints on photoproduction and went through them all. He found one paper by Copely, Karl, and Obryk[6] which predicted what we were seeing. The third photoproduction resonance was misssing!
That is why Walker said, "Oh my goodness".
Copely, Karl, and Obryk had used a simple quark model, in which a nucleon was 3 quarks connected by springs, to show that the 3rd resonance simply would not be excited in pi-minus photoproduction. Whereas, in pi-plus and pi-zero photoproduction, it was very prominent. We could have told Walker this result a couple of months previously, but we were not aware of its significance, and he was never around.

Robert L. Walker
Robert L. Walker
Walker was out to toot our horn. He got Sheffler and I to write up a Physical Review Letter on our preliminary results[7]. This is the pre-eminent physics journal in the world. Our letter was published straightaway. Then he visited his theorist partner, Jon Mathews[8], to get him to drum up a 3-quark connected by springs model that was more mathematical intuitive than what Copely, Karl, and Obryk were using. Mathews was successful, and Walker used this model to show that all the strengths of all the photoproduction nucleon resonances seen in pi-plus, pi-zero, and pi-minus photoproduction were predicted by this model. Walker presented his results at the prestigious International Symposium on Electron and Photon Interactions where he was a lead off speaker[9]. Next Walker showed Feynman, and Feynman developed his own model[10] to show that this simple quark model with springs not only could explain photoproduction of mesons, but a large range of of other data seen in particle physics as well.

I was fascinated. I learned the Mathews model thoroughly until I knew it like the back of my hand. Here was the proof that quarks were real. They were inside the nucleon and the resonances were produced in the way the quarks vibrated against each other. They were never seen because they could never get free. The further and further they pulled on the springs to get out, the stronger and stronger was the spring force pulling them back in. Now the springs were not realistic, but any real theory, I reasoned, would have to have an inter-quark force which saturated at 3 quarks, like the 8 electrons completing an electron orbital in chemistry. The real theory would also have this inter-quark force becoming infinite when the quarks separated to break free in order to prevent the existence of a free quark in nature. At the the time I was thinking about this, there had been many quarks searches and no free quarks had even been seen. Free quarks did not seem to exist. I was learning theory as fast as I could, and I wanted to work on quark theory. I was ready to go.[11]

SLAC, the two mile long linear accelerator
SLAC, the two mile long linear accelerator
Then came my piece of bad luck. I needed a post doc job. I was invited to give a talk at SLAC, the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, in the San Francisco area. It was a two-mile long linear 20 GeV electron accelerator. I was invited there in order that I could be interviewed for a possible job. If you were in particle physics in 1970, SLAC was the place to be. It was to produce 3 Nobel prize winners, Burton Richter in 1976, Richard Taylor in 1990, and Martin Perl in 1995. The work for which they won these prizes was in progress when I was there. There was a fourth winner, Melvin Schwartz, in 1988, who was a group leader at SLAC, but he won it for work done at Brookhaven. It sounded like working at SLAC would be a piece of good luck, but it was not. There was an ironic twist.

I wanted to go and work for Richard Taylor. He was at that time doing experiments in deep inelastic electron scattering, for which he won the Nobel prize, using the magnetic spectrometers set up at end station A. His work showed that the nucleon was composed of bits and pieces of smaller particles. These had to be the quarks. If I could get into his group and do data analysis, I could work on quark theory. Alas, it was not to be. I was hired by David W. G. S. Leith, one of the only SLAC group leaders who did not win a Nobel prize.

David W.G.S. Leith
David W.G.S. Leith
Leith said I was lucky. I was getting in at the beginning of his mark-II Large Aperture Spectrometer System (LASS, he was Scottish). He wanted me to help build it and run it for him. This I proceeded to do. I organized the assembly of all the plastic scintillation photomultiplier detectors (I found I had a flair for organizing), designed and installed all the fast signal processing electronics of the experiment, developed algorithms to monitor how the electronics performed during data collecting, developed algorithms for normalizing the experiment so that cross sections could be calculated, and processed the raw data tapes to pick out the events we wanted and write them onto the good data tapes. There was not much time left to do anything else, and there was no time to work on quark theory. By the time the good events from the experimental run were ready for the final analysis, my contract with SLAC was up, and it was time to move on. I was hired to work at TRIUMF. It was 1974. I had missed my chance. I was now out of the prize wining timeline, and I was just 30 years old[12].

Look, when somebody tells you that you are lucky, it means that you being screwed. The lucky guys are not the ones who get in at the beginning. All what those guys, who get in at the beginning, get, is the hard slog; the lucky guys are the ones who come in at the end and get assigned to do the analysis on the good data tapes. They are the ones who get to do the physics and the theory.

The medium spectrometer at End Station A,The frame of the 20 GeV spectrometer can be seen behind it
The medium spectrometer at End Station A,
The frame of the 20 GeV spectrometer can be seen behind it
Richard E. Taylor
Richard E. Taylor
I wanted to work with Richard Taylor and on quarks. He was just down the hall. There was my opportunity. So close and yet so far! I could have chosen to act like James D. Watson at the Cavendish Laboratories in Cambridge. Bragg, his boss, wanted him to work on the structure of Hemoglobin using x-ray crystallography. He ignored this and instead played with molecular models, pirated DNA structure data from Rosalind Franklin, created the DNA double helix model with Francis Crick, and won the Nobel prize. However, Watson was working on his own. He had no one to please but Bragg, who did not keep close tabs on him. I was in lock step with 6 other guys who depended on me to perform, or their jobs would not get done. I think if I had wandered down the hall to work with Taylor, there would have been severe repercussions. So my opportunity was there, but I could not, or would not seize it[13].

A few years after I had started at TRIUMF, I read in the research that quantum chromo-dynamics had been developed. This was the force between the quarks. The force depended on the colour charge. This was being developed at the time I was leaving Caltech. All particles had to be colour neutral. This was my quark force saturation at three. There could be no naked colour because an infinite amount of energy would be required to make it. This was the equivalent to my spring analogy. Thus the work was done. How much I could have contributed is anybody’s guess.

Thus back to Outliers. This review is not really about Outliers, but about me. However the thesis of Outliers, that the exceptional are lucky, strikes a deep chord within me. The real outliers should realize this and be more humble about their success. The Donald Trumps and Conrad Blacks of the world should cease being arrogant, and realize where their success came from. Luck! Yes, they had to put in the hard work, but it was luck that gave them the opportunity to do so. I hate the obscene consumption of wealth by the successful. I mean how can one meaningfully consume a salary of millions and keep your conscience. My ideal is to have fun making the wealth and then giving it all away like a Bill Gates or a Warren Buffet. So if you want to know what makes people successful read this book. It will either make you feel OK about yourself or give you regrets. Maybe both. In any case, it is an excellent book.


[edit] George Zweig and the Quark Model

How I gave George Zweig a lesson on the Quark Model

Tommy LauritsenHe taught me a course in nuclear physics
Tommy Lauritsen
He taught me a course in nuclear physics
In 1970 I was super eager to get on with my life. I had promised myself to finish my Ph.D. degree in 4 years. I started in September 1966 and by February 1970, my thesis data was complete, the conclusions were known, my 4 years were coming up, and there was just this thesis to write up. So I set out to look for a post doctoral job. I was successful. I reeled in two possibilities[14]. SLAC seemed eager to get me and also Los Alamos. In the summer of 1970, I was invited to give a talk at SLAC on my doctoral work. It went off very well. I met the heads of all the SLAC experimental groups including Leith and Taylor. Taylor looked like he wanted me[15], but I guess Leith won out. SLAC gave me a job offer to work for Leith. Los Alamos also wanted to hire me, but only if I would become an American citizen. H.A. Theissen[16] phoned and asked if I would consider doing this, and he could get me in. I never ever wanted to trade in my Canadian citizenship, so I had to decline. My decision was made for me. I went to work for Leith.

George ZweigHe did not have the beard when I knew him
George Zweig
He did not have the beard when I knew him
There was one big problem. By February 1, 1971, when I was supposed to start at SLAC, I had not finished my thesis. I only had a few appendices written. Leith would not hear of an extension at Caltech, and Caltech would not release me. Caltech insisted that if I left before writing my thesis, I would never finish my degree. However Walker intervened on my behalf and said if anyone would be able to handle a post doctoral job and write his thesis, it would be me. Thus Caltech granted me permission to leave. I arrived at SLAC at the beginning of February 1971. I did finish my thesis. It was a big struggle. Leith had to give me the month of June off from SLAC to do it, but it was done and finished by September. After a harrowing night of xeroxing 6 copies of the thesis at SLAC.[17], the copies were sent off to Caltech, special delivery, to meet the deadline. My doctoral exam was scheduled for early December 1971, and I used the fall of 1971 to prepare for it.

It was a memorable occasion. Christine and I drove down to Pasadena[18] on the previous day. My committee consisted of Robert L. Walker, Frank Sciulli,[19] Tommy Lauritsen,[20] and George Zweig[21]. George Zweig and Murray Gell-Mann independently invented the quark model in 1964. I did not know that at the time. Even at age 27, I was still quite naïve. I had no idea of what constituted a thesis defense. I was told to start talking about what I did for my research, so I gave an impromptu lecture on the spot. It was a good thing I knew my work backwards and forwards and inside out. Everything was at my recall. At one point I stated that all the nucleon resonances predicted by the quark model were present with the correct spin-parity, no more, no less. George Zweig challenged that.[22] I then proceeded to give him a lecture on the quark model and showed him I was correct. I did not know Zweig was the co-inventor of the quark model. If I had known that I would not have been able to so confidently given him my retort. After the defense, Tommy Lauritsen thanked me for the learning experience. I had passed my doctoral exam with flying colours.

Christine and I drove back to Bay Area in a triumphal mood. I told Christine that maybe my next achievement would be to win the Nobel prize in physics. Ah the naïvety of youth. I received my degree at the end of the 1971/72 academic year, June 1972.

[edit] Afterword

The Infinity Puzzle, May 8, 2012

The above story regarding my tit-for-tat with George Zweig during my Ph.D. oral exam came about after reading the book The Infinity Puzzle by Frank Close. Frank's rendition of how Zweig was involved in the creation of the quark hypothesis and the story of the heady days at SLAC while I was there (1971-1974) made me realize that I should add a section about my Ph.D. oral exam in order to give my note on my brush with physics immortality a sense of completeness. Frank Close's path and mine passed quite close together at this time, unbeknownst to the both of us. Frank Close's adviser was Dick Dalitz who had an assistant, Gabriel Karl. Karl was the Karl of Copely, Karl, and Obryk (see above), and it seems that Frank and I learned how to construct the quark hadron spectrum from the same source, Karl. Karl, it turns out, was or became Canadian. He got a position at the University of Guelph in Ontario which had the past of being an agricultural college. Karl visited TRIUMF, where I worked, many times in order to sit on various committees dealing with the research going on at TRIUMF. There was the standard joke whenever he visited to say that Karl was teaching field theory to farmers. Once Karl and I were seated next to each other during an informal evening dinner having to do with one of these committees. It was for the purpose of committee members getting to learn more about what was happening at TRIUMF in a more congenial setting. I told Karl of the influence he had on my doctoral research. He replied, "yes that paper was my greatest success".

Frank was also at SLAC from 1971-1972, when I was there. We never met, and I never heard of him while I was there. However most of the action of which Frank discusses in his book happened before or after he was there. Feynman and his parton model (i.e., pieces inside the nucleon, quarks and gluons) epiphany while visiting SLAC occurred in the summer of 1968. I thought maybe I had heard of the parton model before that time when I took a course on particle physics from Feynman 1967-1968, but a check of my notes shows I took the course 1968-1969. Thus Feynman's excitement re his parton model was understandable. However, I did not understand a thing he said when he was talking about it. I was thinking, "are not these things, quarks"?

The big brouhaha, the discovery of the J/Ψ, occurred at SLAC during 1974. I remember several lectures given by the SPEAR group in which they were puzzling over the the loss of Bjorken scaling. It was as if they could not decide if they were scratching their heads or jumping up and down for joy because this could be new physics. It was new physics alright, much more than they ever expected. I had left SLAC for TRIUMF in August 1974. However I returned to finish calculations to normalize Leith's experiment on November 11, 1974, the day the SPEAR group announced the discovery of the J/Ψ particle. The whole lab was ablaze with excitement, and nobody was talking about anything else. I phoned TRIUMF and broke the news to them. I found myself then saddled with the task of delivering a J/Ψ seminar upon my return to TRIUMF. Hence I spent the rest of my visit to SLAC learning as much as I could on the subject. I also picked up on all the rumours regarding the discovery that were floating down the hallways. I was there when the Ψ' discovery was announced a week later. Normalizing Leith's experiment was forgotten. It had to be done in a subsequent visit later during the spring of 1975.[23] My J/Ψ seminar, given at the UBC Physics Hennings Building, was a great success. The rumours[24] added much colour to the presentation.

[edit] Nobel Prize in Physics 2017

Oct. 3, 2017: Today more memories were dredged up from the past when it was announced that Barry Barish and Kip Thorne won the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of gravity waves. I first met Barry Barish in 1966 when he was a member of the Alvin Tollestrup group. It was known as the Users group because it went about the country using the big accelerators in order to do particle physics research. The core of the group was Alvin Tollestrup, Jerry Pine, Barry Barish, Frank Sciulli, Charlie Peck, and Ricardo Gomez.[25] [26] Others were visiting faculty or post docs. I was introduced to the group by Jim van Putten who was one of the User Group's post docs. I met him through the Caltech senior undergraduate physics lab where I had been assigned to be the technician as my TA job in order to pay for my tuition and pocket money. Van Putten was one of the instructors of the lab along with faculty member, Ward Whaling. Having joined the Users group I was put under the tutelage of Frank Sciulli as my advisor until I left the group for economic reasons (see a previous footnote) in the Spring of 1968. Frank Sciulli worked closely with Barry Barish so that I had frequent interactions with Barry until I left the group. I still had interactions with him as my office as Robert Walker's graduate student was a couple of doorways away from that of Barry's. Thus I frequently passed by him and spoke to him in the hallway. After I left Caltech he eventually left the Users group. The next time I saw him was at TRIUMF when he gave a lecture pushing the International Light Source. He was chief administrator for that project. It was supposed to be the electron accelerator companion for the Large Hadron Collider. It never got built. However I guess his administrative abilities were noted and he was installed as the director of LIGO.
I next saw him when he gave a lecture for the Vancouver Institute at UBC regarding the LIGO project. LIGO was not yet complete but held the promise of detecting gravity waves. I met him at the reception afterwards at UBC's Green College. I asked why he got out of particle physics and into doing research looking for gravity waves. He said that he was never really comfortable with the mathematics behind the relativistic field theories that went hand-in-hand with the standard model. He found the tensor analysis behind General Relativity easier to grasp with manipulating the indices up and down. I could appreciate that. Quantum Mechanics is hard. That was the last time I saw him.

My interactions with Kip Thorne were very much less. When I first started Caltech in 1966, the first Thursday departmental colloquium I attended was given by a brand new faculty member. The subject was black holes and the speaker was Kip Thorne. The lecture was a stunner, and one of the best lectures I have ever attended. Until then, I knew nothing of Black Holes. During my first year at Caltech the talk was all about Kip Thorne and the really neat course he taught on Relativity. Thus the next year, September 1967, I took Kip Thorne's course in Relativity. It was beautifully taught. However the course only lasted until Christmas and was exclusively on Special Relativity. The next two quarters of the course, on General Relativity, were cancelled because Kip was taking a mini-sabbatical. What? He just started at Caltech and gets a sabbatical already? I felt cheated. It has thus been an ambition of mine to understand General Relativity ever since.
Kip Thorne, as I understand it, was the original advocate for the push to build LIGO. As a theorist he did not have the expertise to manage large experimental projects. That is where Barry Barish came in.

[edit] Footnotes

  1. When I was finishing up taking data for my thesis experiment in 1969, one of the theory drop outs, who had started graduate school the same time as me, was starting out his career as an experimentalist by testing a detector in the synchrotron's test beam. Unfortunately I was blocking this beam because the spectrometer that I was using was taking all of the small angle data that we needed. The large angle data was complete, because of previous requests to unblock the beam. Thus this poor drop out was almost reduced to begging on his knees for me to allow him beam time for him to test his detector. I did give him some time, but I was reticent to do so because the time came out of my allotment to take data. At that time, I thought I was fortunate to have decided to be an experimenter because here I was finishing up, and he was just starting out. If I had tried to be a theorist, who knows but for the grace god that drop out could have been me.
  2. From 1997 to 1999, I taught 4th year electrodynamics at UBC. Bill Unruh, UBC's renowned General Relativist theorist, had turned down the assignment. The head of the Physics department, Brian Turrell, then offered me the opportunity to teach the subject. I do not know why except he taught me 4th year electrodynamics in 1966 and I had aced the course. He knew I was at TRIUMF, so connected the dots. I enjoyed teaching the subject. I took my material from Jackson but based my course structure and questions on Griffiths. Jackson was about the hardest but most complete text on electrodynamics in the Physics textbook inventory. During office hours, when I was available to help the students, I studied Jackson. I tackled the hardest parts and extended the results. As I did so, I thought, "you know, I think I could have succeeded as a theorist at Caltech if I had tried".
  3. Robert L. Walker 1919-2005 obituary
  4. H.A. Thiessen, S.D. Ecklund, F. Wolverton, and others
  5. There was one more piece of luck. When I started Caltech, I joined the "Users" group under Alvin Tollestrup. This was a group based at Caltech that did suitcase physics at various accelerator centres around the world. They used the facilities to do their experiments, hence the name "Users". As a result my spouse, Christine, and I spent the summer of 1967 in Berkeley while I worked at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory doing an experiment at the Bevatron. However by the spring of 1968 it became apparent that Christine and I were going into debt. She could not get a job because she would have to quit each summer to accompany me to various accelerators around the world. While we got to travel, my student stipend did not pay the bills. Hence I made the decision to jump ship to a Caltech Synchrotron group. They at least had a permanent base. Alvin Tollestrup quipped that I was the first student to let my wife dictate were I should do my research. However that was not fair. She never dictated anything. It was finances. However the experiment I got to do at the Caltech Synchrotron was far more rewarding than anything that I would have gotten from the "Users", and Christine got a job as a blood gas and pulmonary technician at Huntington Hospital and earned a fantastic amount of money.
  6. L.A. Copley, G. Karl, and E. Obryk, Nucl. Phys. B13, 303 (1969)
  7. π photoproduction from deuterium at laboratory energies 600 to 1250 MeV, Sheffler and Walden, Phys. Rev. Lett. 24,952(1970)
  8. Jon Mathews was Walker's partner and collaborator in writing that classic textbook Mathematical Methods of Physics. I used this textbook when I mastered these methods in a 1966 course that was given by Jon Mathews. I was shocked to learn (Dec. 28, 2011) that Jon Mathews was lost at sea in December of 1979. Walker delivered a tribute to his partner's life in a memorial service held Oct. 30, 1980. The incident regarding the 3-quark model are part of Walker's remarks.
  9. 4th International Symposium on Electron and Photon Interactions at High Energies, Daresbury September 14th - 20th, 1969 page 23 We are reference 7, and our data is shown in fig.'s 3, 4, and 13.
  10. Current Matrix Elements from a Relativistic Quark Model, Feynman, Kislinger, and Ravndal, Phys. Rev. D3,2706(1971).
    Walker's stuff is reference 6.
  11. To see how ready, read George Zweig and the Quark Model.
  12. This assessment is perhaps a bit drastic and unfair. I did a lot of neat physics after I joined TRIUMF. However it was never research, in my opinion, that could ever have led to a Nobel prize (i.e., an Outlier). I knew that this would be the case when I accepted the TRIUMF position. However even that opinion is unfair. In science one never knows when lightning strikes. Take the case of Penzias and Wilson and the Cosmic Microwave Background. All they were doing is looking for sources of radio noise. In any event, what made me choose TRIUMF (I could have gone to Fermilab) was that experimental particle physics were devolving into groups of a hundred or more. I liked smaller groups where you are in control of most of the experiment.
  13. I was quite a bit more reserved in those days, and did what was expected of me. I should have been more forceful about what I wanted to do. If I had been in Watson's position, my temperament was such that I would have probably done the x-ray crystallography of the Hemoglobin molecule as Bragg wanted.
  14. I had also applied to UBC to work on TRIUMF. George Volkoff, head of UBC Physics replied, I paraphrase, "we get so many post doctoral applications every year we simply cannot consider them all, and you are one of them". This I thought was a rather strange reply as I had finished 2nd in the class of 1966 UBC honours physics, but as I learned later this was typically Volkoff.
  15. He had S.D. Ecklund working for him, a previous student of Walker's
  16. Thiessen was R.L. Walker's former graduate student. Louis Rossen head of Los Alamos' LAMPF meson factory was so pleased with Thiessen that he wanted to get his hands on all of Walker's students. Thiessen was heading the experimental program at LAMPF
  17. The thesis was 226 pages long. There was an awful lot of copying. The xerox machines would break down, and I had to find another. I even had to break into a building to get at one. When that machine broke down, I went back to the original one. In the meantime someone had fixed it. It was a long evening.
  18. We drove via the new interstate 5 through the middle of nowhere in a driving rainstorm. The passenger side windshield wiper came loose from its mounting and was fouling the other wiper. I couldn't see to drive. In desperation I tore the offending wiper off from its mounting so as to free up the driver side wiper.
  19. Frank Sciulli was a member of Alvin Tollestrup's "Users" group. I worked for Frank building some photomultiplier detectors for the Bevatron experiment we were to run in the summer of 1967. See footnote above. That is where I started my expertise on photomultipliers. I also learned computer programming and monte carlo techniques from Frank while at the Bevatron. The experimental result of the experiment was published in Physical Review Letters 25,1214(1970). John D. Gallivan on the authors list was the grad student for this experiment. While helping Frank build detectors, I assisted John in testing them in the 1.5 GeV Caltech Synchrotron electron test beam. In order to line things up John stuck his head into the test beam while it was running and looked down the beam line with his eyeball. He had me do the same. I have not noted any ill effects from this experience. This was the same test beam that I was blocking while collecting my thesis data. See another previous footnote.
  20. Tommy Lauritsen taught me a course in nuclear physics. For a term project I worked on a paper about electron-nucleus scattering. That paper led me back to the original papers where the formalisms for non-relativistic and relativistic electron scattering were developed. I re-derived everything, and learned what a good resource on scattering theory was the book by Mott and Massey. It was much better than the later book by Goldberger and Watson. Anyway Lauritsen was so impressed by my work that he introduced me to his graduate student in order that I could teach him about electron scattering. After the course I ran into Lauritsen again at the Huntington Hospital where Christine worked as a Pulmonary Function Technologist and as a Blood Gas Technician. I was in to get my appendix out. He was in for having some of his colon removed because of cancer. Some years later he succumbed to it.
  21. George Zweig had previously offered to be my adviser if I analyzed some bubble chamber data for him. I turned him down. Why? Because I would not get much experience in experimental physics. What was I thinking of? Here was my golden chance of getting into theory through the back door. Persons doing bubble chamber analysis were fitting data according to theory and were learning lots of it. I guess I was still under the spell of MacMillan's advice that being an experimentalist was the best thing for your career. However, Roger Cashmore, my colleague on the Leith experiment, came from a bubble chamber background and his career never suffered for that. Thus, in the end, I turned down the opportunity of getting into theory under the mentorship of a world class theorist. However, there would have been a downside. I would never have done the π photoproduction experiment.
  22. I repeated that I was correct. I believe the bone of contention was the existence of the D33(1700) Δ resonance. George then suggested that I construct the spectrum of all the nucleon resonances from the quarks. This I did, and when I came to the Δ D33, George jumped up and said
    "That's it! That's the one that isn't there"!
    I then pointed out that it was in the Particle Data Group's supplementary tables. It had not quite yet received the Particle Data Group's 4 star approval. It had 3 stars.
    "Hey, George he's right", said Sciulli, "here it is, right here."
    Frank Sciulli had opened a copy of the supplementary tables.
    About a year later Roger Cashmore, my co-experimenter at SLAC in Leith's group, finished analysis of some bubble chamber data at Berkeley. He was specifically doing a partial wave analysis fit to resonances that decayed via the Nππ mode. Cashmore became ecstatic when he saw the results. Conditional resonances like the D33 stood out like a sore thumb. These resonances were really there. They had previously been difficult to find because they decay predominantly into 3 particles. Previous systematic analysis were only looking at two body decay.
  23. This effort was also almost derailed when I discovered the article on the Dinosaur Renaissance by Robert Bakker in Scientific American in the SLAC library. It was the fulfillment of my childhood wonderment of why the dinosaurs, cold-blooded reptiles, could out compete the mammals for the large animal niches in the Triassic period. I read, studied, and researched the article for hours instead of working on normalizing Leith's experiment.
  24. I learned one rumour from a round-about source. We had a neighbour in the Menlo Park apartments where we lived during my post doc years at SLAC. Her name was Mimi. She was about 21, really stacked, and really voluptuous. She and Christine hit it off because Mimi liked dance. She was married to a Greek physicist with the name of Socrates who was a theorist in solid state theory. He was a post doc working at Stanford. We saw this couple several times during this visit to SLAC, and Soc told me that, according to the hallway gossip, Sam Ting, one of the co-discoverers of the J/Ψ, named the particle J after himself because the Chinese symbol for "Ting" looked like the letter J. Without checking for its veracity, I reported this rumour during the seminar. Bill Dalby, in the audience, prodded a Chinese student to get up and write the symbol for "Ting" on the chalk board. Shyly, he got up and wrote a J on the board to the peels of laughter from the audience.
  25. I was told by Clemens A. Heusch that Ricardo Gomez was a native from Columbia, South America, who was educated in America and who came to Caltech as a post doc, but refused to go home. Caltech being civilized, I gather, kept him on in some position. Clemens A. Heusch had some temporary long term faculty position at Caltech. Over the years he was there, he graduated a remarkable number of Ph.D.'s from experiments run on the Caltech synchrotron. There were two experimental bays at the synchrotron. Walker's students occupied one bay and Heusch's students the other. Heusch later got a faculty position at the University of California Santa Cruz. He then turned his experimental endeavours to SLAC. Thus I kept up my acquaintance with him there. I invited him to TRIUMF to give a talk on his work in 1977. That is when he told me about Ricardo Gomez and a number of other Caltech tales from the comfort of my living room. Roger Cashmore, my colleague at SLAC, said Heusch was the only person in particle physics who could speak on any topic even if he knew absolutely nothing about it. Heusch taught me a course in particle physics at Caltech which was mostly not understandable. When I and my fellow students asked him questions to clarify matters, he said,
    "I will come back to that later".
    He never did. This behaviour sparked discussions amongst the students about how much he did actually know about the subject he was teaching. Thus our experience with his teaching seemed to bear out Cashmore's evaluation. However he did produce a remarkable number of Ph.D's, and they were no slouches. Charlie Prescott, Elliott Bloom, and Leon Rochester played a prominent role in electron scattering experiments at SLAC under the leadership of Richard Taylor.
  26. The obituary of Ricardo Gomez published by Caltech.
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