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Dick Dalitz; tau decay


Strange particles
Murray Gell-Mann Scientist
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I had heard about strange particles, that is hadron–well, we didn't know at that time that they were hadrons–particles found in cosmic radiation, initially in cosmic radiation, which were apparently copiously produced–not perhaps as copiously as the pion, but still they were quite copiously produced–but decayed rather slowly. I first heard about them when Leprince-Ringuet came to MIT when I was a graduate student and he spoke about his work.  Then we heard about Rochester and Butler in England. And then all of that work was pursued at Caltech by Carl Anderson and his team. They were called hooks and forks, from the forms of the tracks in a bubble chamber, or later on in a cloud chamber–I mean, sorry, in a cloud chamber or later on in a bubble chamber. And Carl had a… a sign on his blackboard that read: 'What have you done about hooks and forks today?' And in the laboratory that he and Leighton and others used on top of White Mountain–almost as high as Mount Whitney and on the other side of the… of the valley. In that laboratory they found I think the second through the thirteenth lambda particle, or something like that. And they found psi particles–what I later called psi particles and so on and so forth. But anyway, I had heard about these strange particles and I was of course interested like all other theorists in knowing what they were.

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: MIT, England, Caltech, White Mountain, Mount Whitney, Louis Leprince-Ringuet, George Rochester, Clifford Butler, Carl Anderson, Robert Leighton

Duration: 1 minute, 58 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008