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

Abstract

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.

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Fig. 1
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Notes

  1. 1.

    The experiment had the formal number 36 because the experiments were numbered according to the order in which their proposals were submitted. Nevertheless, E-36 was the first experiment to actually receive the accelerated beam because it used the internal beam (circulating inside the ring) while the others necessitated beam extraction, which required additional construction work.

  2. 2.

    The Pomeranchuk theorem stated that the p-p scattering cross sections asymptotically tend to the limiting value (not necessarily a constant), which was not realized at the early stages of data analysis when the experimentalists expected that it would tend to zero. When experiment had shown that the quantity rises above zero, the observation first invoked doubts in the data analysis procedure, and after lively debates resulted in a better understanding of the theorem.

  3. 3.

    The suffix “A,” meaning “amended,” was given to the experiment subsequent to merging all relevant proposals.

  4. 4.

    Telex (a typewriter connected to a phone line playing the role internet plays today) was a network similar to the telephone network for sending text messages, in use since the 1930s.

  5. 5.

    Don Getz was an assistant director of NAL, who occasionally came to watch the process.

  6. 6.

    This term was suggested by Fermilab Archivist and Historian, Valerie Higgins.

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  16. 16

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  17. 17

    Wolfe, Competing with the Soviets (ref. 15), 31, where Wolfe also notes: “But perhaps more importantly for AEC’s continued funding for particle accelerators, some defense strategists believed that focused particle beam could be used to shoot down incoming nuclear weapons.”

  18. 18

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  22. 22

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  23. 23

    Zhu Hong-Yuan, talk delivered at the 12th Session of the JINR Scientific Council, May 31, 1965, trans. Vitaly Pronskikh.

  24. 24

    Ibid.

  25. 25

    Ibid.

  26. 26

    V. Bartenev, G. Beznogikh, A. Buyak, K. Iovchev, L. Kirillova, P. Markov, B. Morozov, V. Nikitin, et al., “The Differential Cross Sections of the p-p and p-d Elastic Scattering at Small Angles in an Energy Range of 10–70 GeV,” talk presented at the 15th International Conference on High-energy Physics (ICHEP 70), Kiev, Ukraine, August 26–September 4, 1970.

  27. 27

    Ernie Malamud, interview by Valerie Higgins, November 6, 2015 and January 28, 2016, Fermilab Archives.

  28. 28

    Vladimir Nikitin, interview by Vitaly Pronskikh, May 13, 2016, Fermilab Archives.

  29. 29

    Ibid.

  30. 30

    Malamud, interview (ref. 27).

  31. 31

    Carrigan, interview (ref. 12).

  32. 32

    Malamud, interview (ref. 27).

  33. 33

    Dan Gross, private communication to the author, 2016.

  34. 34

    Malamud, interview (ref. 27).

  35. 35

    Jennifer Ross-Nazzal, “Détente on Earth and in Space: The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project,” Organization of American Historians Magazine of History 24(3) (September 2010), 29–34.

  36. 36

    R. A. Carrigan Jr., “Does the Slope of the High-Energy Elastic Proton-Proton Scattering Cross Section Increase at Small Momentum Transfer?,” Physical Review Letters 24 (1970), 168–71.

  37. 37

    Edwin L. Goldwasser, letter to I. Smolin on July 11, 1972. C.4.a.8: Russia Correspondence, 1972.

  38. 38

    Ibid.

  39. 39

    Carrigan, interview (ref. 12).

  40. 40

    Robert R. Wilson, letter to Dick Carrigan, September 15, 1970. In folder of materials loaned by Dick Carrigan.

  41. 41

    Edwin L. Goldwasser, memo re: Telecon with V. A. Nikitin this date/ELG on December 29, 1970. Quote: “He is willing to leave his equipment in the US if we are willing to purchase it from him with American dollars which they will then use to support their scientists’ living expenses while in the US. Can we do this? Are we interested and are we permitted? ($80,000 is Nikitin figure—living expenses for 6 scientists for a year, some with families.),” C.5.a.4: “36A Proton-Proton Scattering (part 1).”, Fermilab Archives. [A2013.061 Fermilab Directorate Records (unprocessed), C.5.a.4: “36A Proton-Proton Scattering (part 1).]

  42. 42

    Edwin L. Goldwasser, letter to V. Nikitin, January 5, 1971: “36A Proton-Proton Scattering (part 1).” Quote: “We are also concerned about your inability to get the funds that will be required to support your coworkers during your stay in the U.S. We have discussed the possibility of purchasing some of the equipment that you intend to bring to the experiment, but this does not now seem to us to be a feasible plan.” J. R. Sanford, memo to E. L. Goldwasser, January 8, 1971. C.5.a.4: “36A Proton-Proton Scattering (part 1).” Quote: “I don’t think that it would be a good idea to purchase Nikitin’s target. We are already funding the costs for such a target in the United States.” See also, Rodney L. Cool, letter to Robert R. Wilson, January 11, 1971. C.5.a.4: “36A Proton-Proton Scattering (part 1).” Fermilab Archives C.5.a.4 [A2013.061 Fermilab Directorate Records (unprocessed), C.5.a.4: “36A Proton-Proton Scattering (part 1).]

  43. 43

    Edwin L. Goldwasser, letter to V. Nikitin on April 21, 1971. C.5.a.4: “36A Proton-Proton Scattering (part 1).” This is not the letter that quote comes from, but see also: Mel Abrahams, letter to to Edwin L. Goldwasser, March 11, 1971. C.5.a.4: “36A Proton-Proton Scattering (part 1).” Quote: “Just a note to let you know that we have passed the word to the Scientific Attache in the U. S. Embassy, Moscow, that the AEC is agreeable to an arrangement for free housing at the National Accelerator Laboratory for the Nikitin group, along the lines you described to me. The Soviets were to be advised that when the joint experiment now under consideration is acceptable to the National Accelerator Laboratory and to the Soviets, NAL would provide the housing for reciprocal treatment of the Drickey group at the Institute of High Energy Physics.”

  44. 44

    G. T. Adylov, F. K. Aliev, D. Yu. Bardin, W. Gajewski, I. Ion, B. A. Kulakov, G. V. Micelmacher, B. Niczyporuk, et al., “The Pion Radius,” Physics Letters B 51(4) (1974), 402–6.

  45. 45

    Ernie Malamud, private communication to the author, January 16, 2016.

  46. 46

    Telex message, November 25, 1971. C.4.a.8: “Russian Teletype Log, 1971-1975.”

  47. 47

    Telex message, October 14, 1971. C.4.a.8: “Russian Teletype Log, 1971-1975.”

  48. 48

    Rudolf Pose, interview by N. A. Vinokurova, February 6, 2014, http://oralhistory.ru.

  49. 49

    Richard A. Carrigan, memo to “Interested Parties, Dubna Group Arrival,” March 6, 1972. C.5.a.4: “36A Proton-Proton Scattering (part 1).”

  50. 50

    Ryuji Yamada, interview by Valerie Higgins, January 28, 2016, Fermilab Archives.

  51. 51

    Carrigan, interview (ref. 12).

  52. 52

    Goldwasser, letter to Smolin (ref. 37).

  53. 53

    Malamud, interview (ref. 27).

  54. 54

    Nikitin, interview (ref. 28).

  55. 55

    Carrigan, “Dubna Group Arrival” (ref. 49).

  56. 56

    TaraShea Nesbit, The Wives of Los Alamos (New York: Bloomsbury, 2014).

  57. 57

    Dan Gross, interview by Valerie Higgins, February 18, 2016, Fermilab Archives.

  58. 58

    Konstantin Goulianos, interview by Valerie Higgins, February 19, 2016, Fermilab Archives.

  59. 59

    Carrigan, interview (ref. 12).

  60. 60

    Robert R. Wilson, letter to A. M. Baldin, March 15, 1973. C.5.a.4: “36A Proton-Proton Scattering (part 1).”

  61. 61

    Malamud, private communication (ref. 45).

  62. 62

    Carrigan, interview (ref. 12).

  63. 63

    Ibid.

  64. 64

    V. Bartenev, A. Kuznetsov, B. Morozov, V. Nikitin, Y. Pilipenko, V. Popov, L. Zolin, R. Carrigan, et al., “Small-Angle Elastic Proton-Proton Scattering from 25 to 200 GeV,” Physical Review Letters 29 (1972), 1755–58.

  65. 65

    Adrian Melissinos, Reminiscences: A Journey through Particle Physics (Singapore: World Scientific, 2013).

  66. 66

    V. Bartenev, R. Carrigan, I. H. Chiang, R. L. Cool, K. Goulianos, D. Gross, A. Kuznetsov, E. Malamud, et al., “Small Angle Elastic Proton-Proton Scattering from 25 to 2000 GeV,” Technical Report NAL-080, 1972.

  67. 67

    V. D. Bartenev, A. A. Belushkina, A. I. Valevich, G. I. Gai, A. M. Gorelov, V. P. Ershov, L. S. Kotova, V. A. Nikitin, et al., “Assembly to Obtain a Jet Target Acting on an Internal Accelerator Beam,” Pribory i Tekhnika Eksperimenta 1 (1973), 30–33.

  68. 68

    V. Bartenev, A. Kuznetsov, B. Morozov, V. Nikitin, Y. Pilipenko, V. Popov, L. Zolin, R. A. Carrigan Jr., et al., “Measurement of the Slope of the Diffraction Peak for Elastic p-p Scattering from 8 to 400 GeV,” Physical Review Letters 31 (1973), 1088–91; V. Bartenev, R. A. Carrigan Jr., I-Hung Chiang, R. L. Cool, K. Goulianos, D. Gross, A. Kuznetsov, E. Malamud, et al., “Real Part of the Proton-Proton Forward-Scattering Amplitude from 50 to 400 GeV,” Physical Review Letters 31 (1973), 1367–70.

  69. 69

    Malamud, private communication (ref. 45).

  70. 70

    Carrigan, interview (ref. 12).

  71. 71

    Goulianos, interview (ref. 58).

  72. 72

    Robert R. Wilson, letter to A. M. Baldin, March 15, 1973. C.5.a.4: “36A Proton-Proton Scattering (part 1).”

  73. 73

    Nikitin, interview (ref. 28).

  74. 74

    Robert G. Sachs, letter to Shaul Ramati, October 18, 1972. C.4.a.8: “Russia Correspondence 1972.”

  75. 75

    Malamud, private communication (ref. 45).

  76. 76

    Hoddeson, Kolb, and Westfall, Fermilab (ref. 1), 497.

  77. 77

    Peter Galison, Image and Logic: A Material Culture of Microphysics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997).

  78. 78

    Nikitin, interview (ref. 28).

  79. 79

    Robert P. Crease and Catherine Westfall, “The New Big Science,” Physics Today 69(5) (2016), 30–36.

  80. 80

    SESAME, accessed September 30, 2016, http://www.sesame.org.jo/sesame/index.php.

  81. 81

    V. Pronskikh, “Dreams of a Super Collider: Review of Tunnel Visions: The Rise and Fall of the Superconducting Supercollider by Michael Riordan, Lillian Hoddeson, and Adrienne W. Kolb, University of Chicago Press, 2015,” Endeavour 40(2) (2016), 136.

  82. 82

    “An Open Letter to Professors R. Wilson, E. Goldwasser; F. Mattmueller, A. Mravca, All NAL and AEC Employees,” September 13, 1973. C.5.a.4: “36A Proton-Proton Scattering (part 1).”

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Acknowledgements

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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Correspondence to Vitaly S. Pronskikh.

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Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Batavia, USA. The author holds PhD in physics. His research interests are in nuclear and particle physics, and history and philosophy of science, broadly construed.

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Pronskikh, V.S. E-36: The First Proto-Megascience Experiment at NAL. Phys. Perspect. 18, 357–378 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00016-016-0192-1

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Keywords

  • Soviet Scientist
  • Accelerate Proton
  • Foreign Collaborator
  • Eastern Bloc Country
  • Alternate Gradient Synchrotron