Physics in Perspective

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 357–378 | Cite as

E-36: The First Proto-Megascience Experiment at NAL

  • Vitaly S. Pronskikh


E-36, an experiment on small-angle proton-proton scattering, began testing equipment at the National Accelerator Laboratory (NAL) using a newly achieved 100 GeV proton beam on February 12, 1972, marking the beginning of NAL’s experimental program. This experiment, which drew collaborators from NAL, the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (Dubna, USSR), the University of Rochester (Rochester, New York), and Rockefeller University (New York, New York) was significant not only as a milestone in Fermilab’s history but also as a model of cooperation between the East and West at a time when Cold War tensions still ran high. An examination of the origin, operation, and resolution of E-36 and the chain of experiments it spawned reveals the complex interplay of science and politics that drove these experiments as well as seeds of the megascience paradigm that has come to dominate high energy physics research since the 1970s.


Soviet Scientist Accelerate Proton Foreign Collaborator Eastern Bloc Country Alternate Gradient Synchrotron 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author is indebted to Richard Carrigan, Konstantin Goulianos, Dan Gross, Ernest Malamud, Adrian Melissinos, Stephen Olsen, Vladimir Nikitin, and Ryuji Yamada for taking the time to share their memories. I am thankful to Yuri Eidelman and Nikolai Mokhov for reading and commenting on the manuscript, and to Peter Garbincius for useful discussions of the experiment numbering at NAL. I am grateful to Alexey Zhemchugov (JINR) for providing us documents related to Chinese participation in JINR. I express my condolences to Vladimir Nikitin in connection with the death of his spouse, Valentina, a NAL visitor during E-36A. The author is grateful to Fermilab Archivist and Historian Valerie Higgins who conducted most of the oral history interviews for this paper and significantly contributed at all stages of work on the manuscript. I am grateful to Heath O’Connell for supporting this study. I thank the editors and the anonymous reviewer for their constructive comments, which helped me to improve the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fermi National Accelerator LaboratoryAccelerator Physics CenterBataviaUSA

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