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Problems with the letter to the Physical Review


Almost getting drafted; a letter to the Physical Review
Murray Gell-Mann Scientist
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It was now May 1953, and June–in fact June and July 1953–the time when I went down to Urbana to work with Francis on what some people called the renormalization group. What happened was that Sam Allison's secretary had forgotten to send in a renewal of the notification to my draft board that I was working in a scientific laboratory and my… and that I should continue to receive a draft deferment. So, when I came back to Chicago I received a draft notice, and I thought I was going to be drafted and sent over to Korea and so on. I wasn't so terribly concerned about that in itself, but I was worried that I wouldn't be able to do any more work on physics for a long time, and… but in the mean time I tried to correct the error and get myself undrafted, but I decided I’d better write up some ideas before leaving for the army. And so I put together a written version of this idea and sent it in to the Physical Review Letters–well Physical Review. It was a letter to the Physical Review, at that time there wasn’t a separate 

[Q] There wasn't a separate journal?

There wasn't a separate journal; it was a letter to the Physical Review. I worked on it in Val Telegdi's lab, which was air-conditioned for the sake of equipment. There was no air-conditioning, as I said before, for the sake of people. I thought of getting a wax pencil;  it would be a very important part of my equipment, and it would melt when the temperature was over ninety, so that I could get air-conditioning for my equipment, but that didn't work. Anyway I worked in Val's lab–he later put up a plaque over the desk where I wrote up this stuff.

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: Institute of Nuclear Studies, University of Chicago, University of Illinois, Urbana, Korea, Physical Review, Francis Low, Sam Allison, Valentine Telegdi

Duration: 2 minutes, 6 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008