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A meeting in Moscow


Millionshchikov's message to me
Murray Gell-Mann Scientist
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The next summer, summer of ’64, the international meeting was held at Dubna and I was there. And I heard Fitch and Cronin talk about the wonderful, very careful experiment that they had done over the past two years with Christianson and Turlay showing that there were small violations of time reversal invariants in… or CP invariants in the… in weak… certain weak processes. In fact, in connection with the K01 and K02, and I was trying to think what it meant. I was in the cafeteria; way at the end of the cafeteria I found a little quiet… a quiet table that I could have to myself and I was writing some things on a piece of paper trying to imagine what this CP violation could mean, where it could come from. And I noticed out of the corner of my eye a portly gentleman the other end of the cafeteria near the entrance, and after a while he began to catch my attention more and more because he was walking around from table to table obviously looking for someone. And finally he came all the way to the end of the cafeteria where I was and it became clear he was looking for me. It was Millionshchikov. Now he didn't have any particular role at the conference. His specialty was not elementary particle physics. He hadn't given the ceremonial speech at the meeting or anything. He came and sat down at the table and he said, 'Do you remember me?', I said, 'Of course I remember you. You're Millionshchikov'. He said, 'Do you remember that we attended a meeting in India a few months ago?', I said, 'Yes'. He said, 'Do you remember that you and Jack Ruina and Carl Kaysen presented a paper on anti-ballistic missile systems?', I said, 'Yes, I remember it very well'. He said, 'Do you remember what I said about it?', I said, 'I'll never forget it. You said it was completely crazy'. He said, 'Well, it's not so crazy'. He got up, walked out of the cafeteria and went back to Moscow. That message was apparently the entire reason for his trip to Dubna. So, they had succeeded…  somebody had succeeded apparently in getting these ideas into the… into the establishment.

New York-born physicist Murray Gell-Mann (1929-2019) was known for his creation of the eightfold way, an ordering system for subatomic particles, comparable to the periodic table. His discovery of the omega-minus particle filled a gap in the system, brought the theory wide acceptance and led to Gell-Mann's winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1969.

Listeners: Geoffrey West

Geoffrey West is a Staff Member, Fellow, and Program Manager for High Energy Physics at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He is also a member of The Santa Fe Institute. He is a native of England and was educated at Cambridge University (B.A. 1961). He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1966 followed by post-doctoral appointments at Cornell and Harvard Universities. He returned to Stanford as a faculty member in 1970. He left to build and lead the Theoretical High Energy Physics Group at Los Alamos. He has numerous scientific publications including the editing of three books. His primary interest has been in fundamental questions in Physics, especially those concerning the elementary particles and their interactions. His long-term fascination in general scaling phenomena grew out of his work on scaling in quantum chromodynamics and the unification of all forces of nature. In 1996 this evolved into the highly productive collaboration with James Brown and Brian Enquist on the origin of allometric scaling laws in biology and the development of realistic quantitative models that analyse the influence of size on the structural and functional design of organisms.

Tags: Dubna, Moscow, Mikhail Millionshchikov, VL Fitch, James Cronin, JH Christianson, R Turlay, Jack Ruina, Carl Kaysen

Duration: 2 minutes, 47 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008