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Finding accommodation for the Institute


Early days at Santa Fe
Murray Gell-Mann Scientist
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After we held the founding workshops in the fall if '84, we incorporated. I was the first chairman of the board, I believe and we selected George Cowan to be the President and pretty soon we had rented a convent from the Catholic Church and we began to have some wonderful visitors and everything was off to a very good start. I recruited a number of the people, especially in the early days, for workshops, visits, membership on our various boards and so on, and I was very apprehensive - at first especially - because many of the people I was calling were people who were in very different fields, had never heard of me or had barely heard of me, and I was fairly sure what their response would be in most cases; if they were busy, famous people they would say,’ I'm really... what you propose is very interesting, your institute sounds very nice, but you know I'm awfully busy. I have my research and my students and my consulting and my lecturing and I'm writing a book and I really don't have any time. Please don't call me, I'll call you’. Instead the people whose names we selected, people we had heard were interested in interdisciplinary co-operation, almost always said the opposite, something like, ‘Can't I come sooner? I've been waiting for this all my life’. Something of that kind, it was very heartening.

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: Santa Fe Institute, George Cowan

Duration: 1 minute, 28 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 29 September 2010