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Achievements of the Institute

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After some years at the convent several things happened. We outgrew it; the church wanted it back; various compromise arrangements whereby we would enlarge it and then give it back after many years to the church and so on didn't work. So... so we left and we occupied a, what was essentially a dental suite, for some years. That wasn't very satisfactory but the Institute throve anyway. But it was not a very good home. And finally we acquired the Hurley Renfrew mansion overlooking the city, and we have now expanded it. The expansion will be finished in August or so and we won't have six in an office any more. I hope we can get down to two or three in an office. Six in an office may be wonderful for interaction, but it's not very good for thought. We have promised ourselves not to increase the number of resident researchers at any one time beyond 50. We had something like 35 to 45, typically, and now I hope we don't raise the number more than... by more than a very few and keep to our promise to ourselves that it won't be more than 50 because the character of the whole institution would change greatly, I think, if we had more than 50. And we'd be back to crowding, moreover, which would be a shame. So the people come for a day or a week or a month or a year or two years and co-operate across disciplinary lines and form informal research networks, communicating by email and fax and visits and so on, and study all sorts of marvelous problems in all those fields that... that we mentioned.

New York-born physicist Murray Gell-Mann is 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

Duration: 1 minute, 48 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 29 September 2010