Lawrence’s calculations momentarily discouraged him. The accelerator tube would be “some meters in length,” too long, he thought, for the laboratory. (Linear accelerators today range in length up to two miles.) “And accordingly, I asked myself the question, instead of using a large number of cylindrical electrodes in a line, might it not be possible to use two electrodes over and over again by sending the positive ions back and forth through the electrodes by some sort of appropriate magnetic field arrangement.” The arrangement he conceived was a spiral. “It struck him almost immediately,” Alvarez wrote later, “that one might ‘wind up’ a linear accelerator into a spiral accelerator by putting it in a magnetic field,” because the magnetic lines of force in such a field guide the ions. Given a well-timed push, they would swing around in a spiral, the spiral becoming larger as the particles accelerated and were thus harder to confine. Then, making a simple calculation for magnetic-field effects, Lawrence uncovered an unsuspected advantage to using a spiral accelerator: in a magnetic field slow particles complete their smaller circuits in exactly the same time faster particles complete their larger circuits, which meant they could all be accelerated together, efficiently, which each alternating push.
Exuberantly Lawrence ran off to tell the world. An astronomer who was still awake at the faculty club was drafted to check his mathematics. He shocked one of his graduate students the next day by bombarding him with the mathematics of spiral accelerations but mustering no interest whatever in his thesis experiment. “Oh, that,” Lawrence told the questioning stuent. “Well, you know as much onthat now as I do. Just go ahead on your own.” A faculty wife crossing the campus the next evening heard a startling “I’m going to be famous!” as the young experimentalist burst pasther on the walk.
Lawrence then traveled East to a meeting of the American Physical Society and discovered that not many of his colleagues agreed. To less inspired mechanicians the scattering problem looked insurmountable. […moredissentetc…]
A distinguished experimentalist from the University of Hamberg, Otto Stern, a Breslau Ph.D., forty-one that yer and on his way to a Nobel Prize (though Lawrence would beat him), gave Lawrence the necessary boost. Sometime after the Christmas holidays the two men dined out in San Francisco, a pleasant ferry ride across the unbridged bay. Lawrence rehearsed again his practiced story of particles spinning to boundless energies in a confining magnetic field, but instead of coughing politely and changing the subject, as so many other colleagues had done, Stern produced a Germanic duplicate of Lawrence’s original enthusiasm and barked at him to leave the restaurant immediately and go to work. Lawrence waited in decency until morning, cornered one of his graduate students and committed him to the project as soon as he had finished studying for his Ph.D. exam.
Lawrence kickstarting big machine physics in the USA, from “The Making of the Atomic Bomb” by Richard Rhodes.
I’m cracking up because:
1) “Oh, that”
2) Cute-ass scientists, “I’m going to be famous!!”
3) “the Germanic duplicate” what does that even look like
Guys, seriously. Signal boost. I needed this the other night, and a few weeks ago I was talking with someone who needed it. This is the best freaking thing ever.
I am so glad I found this. I hate calling hotlines. this is perfect, everyone must know.
Anonymous said: WHY ARE YOU SINGLE
because i didn’t forward that chain email letter in 2004
being a 21+ year old in a fandom full of preteens and teens
a little girl who grows up thinking all doors are automatic but actually she’s haunted by a really polite ghost