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Discussions with Enrico Fermi; resonance and symmetry


The atmosphere at Chicago
Murray Gell-Mann Scientist
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The atmosphere in Chicago at our place was very different from the atmosphere that we discussed a few minutes ago at the Institute for Advanced Study. The Institute for Advanced Study is… I indicated there was a good deal of competitiveness, and if you came up with an idea people were likely—if you want to caricature the situation—likely to say, ‘Oh well, that's not very important and besides, I did it first’, and… and so on and so forth. ‘And besides, it's wrong. It's wrong, but it's not very important and I did first’. ‘And if it were right I would have done it first’... ‘and if it were right I would have done it first’, and so on. I didn't run into much of that in Chicago, and instead people, and… and also because it was both an experimental and theoretical place with a lot of experimental work going on, there was a lot of interaction between the discussions of experiments and the independent discussion of theory, which was very healthy. There was some of that at the Institute for Advanced Study as well, but less because the experiments weren't going on right there in the basement, they were going on at other institutions.

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: University of Chicago, Institute of Nuclear Studies, Institute for Advanced Study

Duration: 1 minute, 9 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008