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Work on low energy systems


Hoping high energy physics would be the key to nuclear forces
Hans Bethe Scientist
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[Q] But while engaged in this high energy work, you still have a love for nuclear physics and in fact...

I do.

[Q] And it's low energy nuclear physics.

Yes. I was hoping that high energy physics and especially the investigation of the pi meson interaction with the nucleon would give us the key to nuclear forces. I was most interested in finding out what are the nuclear forces, and how are they related to the fundamental interaction between the pion and the nucleon. Well, theoretically the key paper was done not here, but by Goldberger and Chew showing that...

[Q] Chew and Low.

No, Chew and Low, that is correct, Goldberger came in a little later. By Chew and Low showing, well that essentially you could treat the nucleon non... as nonrelativistic and the pion as relativistic and you could get a good theory of the pion nucleon interaction in this manner, treating the nucleon nonrelativistically, and I got... was very interested in that theory and how that could give us the basis of a theory of nuclear forces.

The late German-American physicist Hans Bethe once described himself as the H-bomb's midwife. He left Nazi Germany in 1933, after which he helped develop the first atomic bomb, won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1967 for his contribution to the theory of nuclear reactions, advocated tighter controls over nuclear weapons and campaigned vigorously for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Listeners: Sam Schweber

Silvan Sam Schweber is the Koret Professor of the History of Ideas and Professor of Physics at Brandeis University, and a Faculty Associate in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University. He is the author of a history of the development of quantum electro mechanics, "QED and the men who made it", and has recently completed a biography of Hans Bethe and the history of nuclear weapons development, "In the Shadow of the Bomb: Oppenheimer, Bethe, and the Moral Responsibility of the Scientist" (Princeton University Press, 2000).

Tags: Geoffrey Chew, Francis Low

Duration: 2 minutes, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: December 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008