Robert J. Birgeneau, Arthur K. Kerman and Peter T. Demos, Opening Remarks - LNS46 Symposium: On the Matter of Particles

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PRESENTER: The first welcoming remarks will be by our dean, Birgeneau whom many of you know as a well-known solid state physicist. And we're very pleased that he will be our welcoming addressees. Bob, [INAUDIBLE].

ROBERT BIRGENEAU: It's obviously really a special pleasure for me to be able to open these proceedings. Among other things, it gave me an opportunity with Fred Eppling and Art Kerman yesterday just to review the history of LNS. It's an incredible series of creative ventures. In fact, if nothing else, the creativity is demonstrated by having a 46th anniversary, which I think is the first time in history at MIT we've had a 46th anniversary. As all of you know, or probably know, actually, LNS was first officially announced technically not in 1946, but actually on December 19 in 1945 by Karl Compton, who was then president of MIT, and then was established formally in '46 by the Office of Naval Research.

In looking over the scientific history of LNS, this is, of course, always a very dangerous thing to do. Because everybody in the audience who has made great contributions has their ears perked up. But nevertheless, I'll go through a list of a few really singular accomplishments.

First of all, as probably many of you know, LNS was the birthplace of space astronomy through the work of Bruno Rossi and Herb Bridge and a number of others. Secondly, one of the first great Van der Graafs was established here, what used to be Building 58, which now actually doesn't exist anymore, which produced basically a myriad of important data in nuclear spectroscopy. Third, of course, everybody knows the seminal work done by Vicki and Herman on the optical model in the compound nucleus, which played a fundamental role in the development of nuclear physics.

The discovery of positronium by Martin Deutsch in 1951. Work by Steve Weinberg and CTP on the unification of weak and electromagnetic interactions. Approximately coupled with that in time, these magnificent experiments by Jerry Friedman and Henry Kendall and Dick Keller out at SLAC on deep inelastic scattering.

J/psi by Sam Ting. More recently, the development of the inflationary universe model by Alan Guth, which of course has gotten extraordinary and very exciting support by the most recent COBE results, where also you probably know that the head of the scientific program for COBE is, in fact, an MIT person, Ray Weiss. And so MIT's, again, intimately involved.

In naming these, I then left out really a countless number of other very important contributions, which maybe 10 or 20 years from now we will say one of them will turn out to be the most singular contribution. That's that wonderful thing about science, is you never know at any given time what's going to turn out to have been the truly most important contribution. All of this was possible because the laboratory has profited from outstanding leadership.

First of all, the first head of LNS was Zacharias, who played a role in founding the laboratory. He was then followed by Peter Demos, who oversaw the lab over a very long period of extraordinary productivity, followed by Martin Deutsch, Francis Low, Jerry Friedman, and most recently, Arthur Kerman-- truly distinguished scientists, all of them and also outstanding administrators. In addition, there were year-long or thereabout fill-ins by Bernie Feld, Dave Frisch, whom of course we're all very sorry is not with us for this celebration, and Vicki.

I also have to mention that the lab-- everybody who interacts with the lab knows that although all of these people are outstanding scientists and administrators, actually, the real reason the lab functions at all is Fred Eppling, who has guided the laboratory partly scientifically and completely administratively for close to 40 years. And I think we all owe a very special debt to Fred.


Now, of course, even at MIT, laboratories don't function unless they're funded. And we've been extraordinarily fortunate to have continued funding of the Laboratory for Nuclear Science in the form of a contract for 46 years, first by ONR-- Our that was between '46 and '58-- and since that time by-- it's actually always been the same agency. But its name has changed continuously.

It was first AEC, then ERDA, and now Department of Energy. And we're, of course, also indebted to the federal government for its loyalty and support of LNS. Of course, this continuing support wouldn't have been possible were it not for the stellar contributions, some of which I've already reviewed.

So the program to me looks really outstanding. I'm really looking forward myself to hearing many of these talks. And I'm sure you all will enjoy the program as much as I will. And I welcome you.


PRESENTER: Thank you, Bob. Arthur Kerman, who is the Director of the Laboratory, will make the next remarks.

ARTHUR KERMAN: We'll save time with these remarks, because I'm not going to go for very long. I would like to thank the organizers of this affair and also our staff, who worked really, very hard, way beyond the call of duty, to make this a fair success, which I think it's going to be. I'd like to make just a comment on why 46, which was already mentioned.

I've been being asked that for the last six months. Almost anybody who talks to me asks, why 46? And we have a lot of excuses like, 46 is half of 92, or 46 is the year when we were founded.

Somebody said something yesterday, which is really true. MIT's always a maverick. We have to do things differently. And then there was a really great remark. This is a fundraiser for the 100th.


It's going to take us that long to raise the funds. But I think the best one I've heard is that any time is a good time to throw a party. And that's what we're doing, and we hope everyone enjoys it. And let's be on with the festivities.


PRESENTER: Let us indeed be on with the festivities. Peter Demos is the chairperson of the first session.

PETER DEMOS: Good morning. Arthur has provided a basis for an aside. I, too, speculated on why 46. And I looked at the periodic table. There are two stable 46 isotopes that are rare.

One is titanium, and the other is calcium. Calcium's crusty, and titanium's tough. Perhaps it describes the Laboratory. [LAUGHING]

It really boggles the mind to think of all the things that have been done not just to quantity, but the quality. And for those of us who run at a somewhat normal pace, it's been awesome. The order of this morning is to hear of the early days.

But before I get to that, Mack Hubbard, one of the special people of that period, of the first period, has asked me to give his greetings to his friends here. And for those who may not know of Mack, he was Jerrold Zacharias's very resourceful right arm. He set up the Laboratory's original technical and administrative facilities. And he left quite a challenge for those of us who followed to live up to.

I'm pleased to say that I have met and talked with Malcolm a number of times this past year. He's as sharp as ever. He's a treasure house of recollections, and it is a shame that he can't be part of this activity.