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Nobel prize winners here at Cornell


Kinoshita's work on the extra magnetic moment of the electron
Hans Bethe Scientist
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Yes, we get Ken Wilson, we get Kinoshita who... who followed up the work on the Lamb shift and on the extra magnetic moment of the electron and though with.. to... to fantastic accuracy using modern computers. The extra magnetic moment of the electron beyond the Dirac Moment had been discovered by Kusch, had been explained by Schwinger and by Feynman, in what was the second approximation in... in electromagnetic theory.

I was discussing Kinoshita who calculated the higher approximations of renormalization for the magnetic moment of the electron, and was able to... to do not only the term which is... goes as the fourth power of the electron charge, but as the sixth and more recently as the eighth power. And so he could predict the magnetic moment of the electron to a fabulous accuracy I think - better than one part in a 100 million. And fortunately there is an experimenter at Seattle, Dehmelt, who was able to measure it experimentally for a free electron and got the Nobel Prize for it, and it... to the great astonishment of both experimenter and theorist, the agreement is perfect. So this is now the best method to get the fine structure constant: 137.0360.

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: Lamb shift, Nobel Prize in Physics, Kenneth Wilson, Toichiro Kinoshita, Polykarp Kusch, Julian Schwinger, Richard Feynman, Hans Dehmelt

Duration: 2 minutes, 48 seconds

Date story recorded: December 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008