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Interaction with other MIT students


Making friends at MIT
Murray Gell-Mann Scientist
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I spent the summer travelling around the country, something I'd never done before. First, I worked in a… a in Rojay Sportswear, folding t-shirts and mailing them to various department stores around the country to earn a little bit of money. And then with two friends, I drove around the West, which I'd never seen. That was marvellous. And in September I went to MIT, and after a week in a depressing boarding house I was admitted to the graduate house, the graduate dormitory, and I found that there were lots and lots of Ivy League people there. And... and lots... I had lots of friends, lots of people I already knew, lots of splendid people that I hadn't known but got to know soon, and Viki [Victor Weisskopf] was wonderful and the whole thing was a very positive experience, despite the fact that the atmosphere was a little grubby.

[Q] How many incoming graduate students were there?

Oh, I don't know. I have no idea.

[Q] And you made obviously very close friends during that period, I mean, are there any names that we can associate with that period?

Well, Bob Noyce was a fellow student. I didn't see much of him much later, but when we were graduate students and just afterwards we saw quite a bit of each other. We walked up Mount Katahdin together, for example, and things of that kind. In later years, I didn't see him very much until finally he came to the Santa Fe Institute, and we resumed our acquaintance and then unfortunately he died.

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: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rojay Sportswear, Ivy League, Mount Katahdin, Santa Fe Institute, Robert Noyce, Victor Weisskopf

Duration: 1 minute, 40 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008