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จากนักเรียนท้ายแถวสู่นักฟิสิกส์รางวัลโนเบล (2)

DeVorkin:
What kind of physics were you getting interested in while you were at the University of Tokyo?
Koshiba:
You know, when I entered graduate school I was taken up by a theoretical physicist, a very well known theoretical physicist, Professor Yamanouchi.
DeVorkin:
At Rochester?
Koshiba:
No, in the University of Tokyo.
DeVorkin:
Oh, okay.
Koshiba:
I spent two years in the graduate school of the University of Tokyo. One of my friends who was a research assistant of the department, who later became a professor of physics at Waseda University, advised me that competition in theoretical physics was very severe. He said, "Why don't you consider experimental physics?" He then described a new type of nuclear emulsion, which was invented by a Bristol group in England. We obtained a small sample of this Ilford nuclear nuclear emulsion, and then started a small experiment by exposing it on top of Mt. Fuji.
DeVorkin:
On top of Mt. Fuji. So you hiked up to Mt. Fuji for this.
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
DeVorkin:
What were your facilities like for physics, your physics labs and—?
Koshiba:
Nothing.
DeVorkin:
It was really very, very meager?
Koshiba:
You know, it was already three or four years, or maybe five years after the war.
DeVorkin:
So this was about 1949, 1950?
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. For instance, there was only one sodium iodide crystal, about this big.
DeVorkin:
About an inch.
Koshiba:
Yes. Uh-huh. That was held in a very heavy safety box, and a professor was responsible for it. Graduate students couldn't touch it. And, as you know, all the accelerator-related equipment had to be destroyed. When I went to the University of Rochester graduate school, they first gave me an oral exam by four professors in order to decide which courses I should take. Because of this lack of training in experimental techniques at the University of Tokyo, all Japanese students who came to Rochester were required to take a laboratory course.
DeVorkin:
A laboratory course, uh-huh. Did other Japanese students come with you at the same time or around the same time?
Koshiba:
Yes. Two more came in the same year.
DeVorkin:
Who were they?
Koshiba:
One was a Professor Ohnuma, an accelerator physicist. Ohnuma worked many years at Fermilab, and he is a professor at The University of Texas in Houston now. The other one was a theoretical physicist, Professor Takahashi, who is now a professor at the University of Edmonton in Canada.
DeVorkin:
So they both stayed in the West.
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
DeVorkin:
Okay. But as far as laboratories, research equipment, that sort of thing, it was very, very meager after the war. There was no immediate reconstruction, no money.
Koshiba:
No technical training to speak of. So when I went to the University of Rochester and was given this one inch sodium iodide crystal to clean, it was really a shock — that a first year graduate student would be permitted to handle so precious a thing. [laughs]
DeVorkin:
I'm sorry for belaboring questions about the University of Tokyo, but I do want to know as much as I can about what conditions were there not only for physics but for astronomy. And I was just wondering one more question. Did you have any contact with anybody interested in astronomy at that time?
Koshiba:
The only contact was through Kozai.
DeVorkin:
So you remained in contact with him.
Koshiba:
Mmm [affirmative], from time to time. And there was Hatanaka, who died some years ago.
DeVorkin:
Okay. Yes. Hirayama was still around, and Hagiwara —
Koshiba:
Hagiwara is still alive, yes.
DeVorkin:
And Hagihara. You didn't have any contact with them at the Tokyo Astronomical Observatory.
Koshiba:
No. After all, it was only four or five years ago that I was elected a member of the Astronomical Society of Japan.
DeVorkin:
Okay. But I'm still curious if you knew any of these names: K. Sotome? Okay, he isn't known to you. Was Professor Hantaro Nagaoka around?
Koshiba:
Before my time.
DeVorkin:
Okay. So he predates you and you had no contact with him.
Koshiba:
We go back to Rochester again?
DeVorkin:
Go to Rochester, right. I'm interested in the route you probably traveled, oh, to Hawaii and then to the west coast and then across to Rochester. Is that how you got there?
Koshiba:
Wait a minute. In those days we could afford only a boat trip.
DeVorkin:
So how did you go?
Koshiba:
From Yokohama to Seattle.
DeVorkin:
Okay.
Koshiba:
Eleven days. And, when I found out that $102 a month was not enough to live on, and that I would get a minimum guaranteed salary of $400 a month as soon as I got my degree, I decided to get my doctorate as soon as possible. I arrived in Rochester in the month of August.
DeVorkin:
Was that 1950?
Koshiba:
'53.
DeVorkin:
'53. That's right. You had two years of graduate school. Okay.
Koshiba:
And then in the month of October, I had to take a German exam. In those days the University of Rochester required two foreign languages.
DeVorkin:
Sure.
Koshiba:
Yes? Besides English, there was nobody who could test my Japanese as a foreign language. So I had to take the German exam in October, and the French exam in November. Then in January I had to take what are called the qualifying exams, which last almost a week.
DeVorkin:
Wow.
Koshiba:
Luckily, I passed all these, and started thesis work.
DeVorkin:
So it was very rapid.
Koshiba:
Yes. Because I had to get the $400 guaranteed income as soon as possible.
DeVorkin:
But it sounds like you were very well qualified and well prepared from the physics that you had at the University of Tokyo, because you passed the qualifying exams within just four or five months of getting there.
Koshiba:
Well, our teachers at the University of Tokyo were really good physicists.
DeVorkin:
Had you had English training?
Koshiba:
Just a little. School English. So when I went to Rochester it was very, very difficult. Each time I met a new person, I had to ask, "Please speak slowly and clearly."
DeVorkin:
Did you live in a dormitory?
Koshiba:
No. I shared an apartment with an Australian graduate student.
DeVorkin:
Who was that and how did that get arranged?
Koshiba:
His name was Jack Noon. He later become a professor at the Renselear Polytechnic Institute.
DeVorkin:
Renselear, yes.
Koshiba:
The reason was because we were both students of Professor Kaplon, initials M. F.
DeVorkin:
So you didn't work directly for Marshak.
Koshiba:
No. Marshak is a theoretical physicist, and I was applying for experimental physics. Kaplon was well-known in those days for nuclear emulsion work.
DeVorkin:
You mentioned that you did a little bit of Ilford nuclear emulsion work on Mt. Fuji.
Koshiba:
Yes.
DeVorkin:
But I didn't ask you if you got any scientific results from it.
Koshiba:
No, not to speak of.
DeVorkin:
But did you develop the emulsions, and scan them with a microscope?
Koshiba:
Yes. In those days I had written one theoretical paper, because at the beginning I was to become a theoretical physicist.
DeVorkin:
At Rochester, you decided to be an experimental physicist.
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
DeVorkin:
Now was this more to your liking, or something they suggested that you do?
Koshiba:
No, it was my wish to become the student of Mort Kaplon.
DeVorkin:
His first name was Morton? And he was working in nuclear emulsions?
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
DeVorkin:
Was he flying them or sending them down under lakes?
Koshiba:
No. He was flying them on balloons.
DeVorkin:
On balloons. Right. Was this your first contact with ballooning?
Koshiba:
That's right.
DeVorkin:
I'd be very interested to know how your work developed and what your thesis was.
Koshiba:
For my thesis topic I had chosen ultra high energy phenomena in cosmic radiation. The reason I had chosen that title for my thesis work was because Marcel Schein of the University of Chicago published what he called an anti-proton event in cosmic radiation. His analysis seemed fishy to me. So I thought that I would make my own study to clear things up. My conclusion was that nothing extraordinary was occurring in high energy cosmic radiation.
DeVorkin:
This was from your own observations.
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. I got the doctorate degree in the month of April, which means it took a year and eight months at Rochester for me to get a doctorate.
DeVorkin:
April 1954 then.
Koshiba:
No, '55. A year and eight months.
DeVorkin:
Okay. That is very rapid. Did you actually prepare nuclear emulsion stacks and fly them with Kaplon?
Koshiba:
No, the flown stack was given to me to analyze.
DeVorkin:
So you did not yet have experience flying stacks.
Koshiba:
No direct contact with the balloons. At the beginning of July, I was offered a research associateship by Marcel Schein of the University of Chicago, where I could enjoy a $400 a month salary from the month of April.
DeVorkin:
Now your thesis had shown that something he had suggested was not correct, and —
Koshiba:
Probably Marcel liked it. [laughs]
DeVorkin:
He liked it. I see. Now, at Rochester you already said that you were given a sodium iodide crystal to clean, and so clearly there was more of an infrastructure for experimental research. Was this exciting to you?
Koshiba:
Oh, yes. For instance, I was given the assignment to design an FM receiver and an FM amplifier, which is completely beyond my capability. And the circuit I made was ringing and making noise. [laughs]
DeVorkin:
Why were you asked to do this?
Koshiba:
Well, it was a common assignment, one of the assignments given to a graduate student.
DeVorkin:
And this would be an FM amplifier that would fly on a balloon for some reason?
Koshiba:
Well, I don't know the reason, but you are given some parts and so forth, and then you have to make the FM receiver and FM amplifier work in the 100 megahertz region, which is not easy.
DeVorkin:
You had plenty of laboratory equipment? There was no need to scrounge? You had everything you needed, as far as you could tell?
Koshiba:
Well, I don't remember very much about this laboratory course.
DeVorkin:
Oh, this was part of a course. Is that right?
Koshiba:
Well, I was exempt from taking courses. The committee at the time of my entrance to the graduate school at Rochester, decided that I had already sufficient knowledge to take the qualifying exam.
DeVorkin:
Oh, I see. So this was —
Koshiba:
The laboratory course was the only exception.
DeVorkin:
Right, okay. Now during that time did the Rochester conference take place while you were there?
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
DeVorkin:
And what was that all about?
Koshiba:
Five months after I arrived in Rochester, there was a Rochester conference.
DeVorkin:
So that would be January of '54.
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. And that was the time when I first met Dick Feynman. Dick Feynman was back from his trip to Japan, and he was considerably interested in the country. Being a graduate student like me, when I asked Professor Feynman to come to my place and have sukiyaki with me, he immediately accepted my invitation, and we had a lovely evening in my very small room.
DeVorkin:
You cooked for him. Do you remember the sorts of things you talked about?
Koshiba:
What impressed me is how he came up with his Feynman Diagram. I think I told you about this yesterday. He said he didn't know anything about the second quantization; he just studied the classical electrodynamics inside out. And since he believed in special relativity, his method of treating the four components on an equal footing should be correct, but he wasn't sure. So using his diagram method, he calculated the physical process of which he knows the exact answer, which is Compton scattering. And then he got the correct answer, so he was sure that his diagram method is a correct method. Those are the things he told us.
DeVorkin:
When did you first encounter the Feynman Diagram, and what did you think of it as a heuristic tool?
Koshiba:
Well, I told you that at the beginning of my graduate work in Tokyo I had written a theoretical paper with the help of a friend which was on the nuclear interaction of muons through electromagnetic interaction. In calculating this, we used the Feynman Diagram method. So I knew about the Feynman Diagram.
DeVorkin:
But did it impress you. I remember when I first encountered Hamiltonian operators, I thought this was a very efficient new way of performing calculations. I was actually very excited about it, even though I didn't do anything with it. But in your case, going on in physics, did you see this as a major tool, as a major way to explore fundamental physics?
Koshiba:
Yes. I found the Feyman diagram a very, very powerful method. Unfortunately, all the processes which are calculable within a reasonable time have already been done by my seniors. So the process I calculated with the Feynman Diagram method was what is called the third order process. Third order in coupling constant. If you want to go to fourth order, there are many uncalculated, interesting problems. However, the difficulty is very much greater. The complexity is very much greater than third order processes. Okay?
DeVorkin:
Yes, sure.
Koshiba:
Not only that. The Feynman Diagram method is a very good method when you are dealing with an electromagnetic process, because the coupling constant is small. But when you have strong coupling involving pions and so forth, then the validity becomes dubious.
DeVorkin:
So in the electro-weak areas.
Koshiba:
For instance, Professor Kinoshita at Cornell is still working on the Feynman Diagram, working on the electromagnetic process. I think he has been working on something like the fifth order, or sixth order, I don't know.
DeVorkin:
Yes. Very complex. Well, you defended your thesis. Is there anything else we should be talking about at Rochester? I asked you about the conference, and I'm wondering what you felt about it. Was this the first large-scale physics meeting that you went to?
Koshiba:
That's right. But in those days Rochester conferences were rather small, altogether about 50 people.
DeVorkin:
But you must have met a lot of people at that time. Were you consciously comparing American physics with Japanese physics, the way physics is done, how physicists behave and interact? Did you find differences?
Koshiba:
Of course.
DeVorkin:
I'd like to know what your observations were.
Koshiba:
The first thing I noticed is that in this open discussion even the well established professor can be asked very embarrassing questions by young people.
DeVorkin:
I see.
Koshiba:
That would not happen in Japan. Even if one notices a mistake in the senior professor's lecture or statement, you are supposed to keep quiet. That is considered to be a part of good manners. But in the United States, even a student can ask very straightforward questions, or express a doubt to very senior people. That was one thing I learned.
DeVorkin:
Okay.
Koshiba:
That, to tell you the truth, made my life a little bit difficult after I came back to this country.
DeVorkin:
Did you participate? Did you learn that you could stand up and question?
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
DeVorkin:
I mean, here it was one thing for you to show that Marcel Schein's work had to be reinterpreted or corrected. Was Schein at the conference, and did you get a chance to talk with him?
Koshiba:
I don't remember whether Marcel was there or not.
DeVorkin:
Okay. Certainly it was a different way of conducting physics. But was it one that you felt comfortable with?
Koshiba:
I found it very nice, because for instance the dean of the graduate school at that time, at Rochester, was a very well known professor, Arthur Roberts. He was not only a physicist, but also a music composer.
DeVorkin:
Really?
Koshiba:
Yes. He was a very big man, with the dignity of being the dean of the graduate school, I was sort of scared of him. In this Rochester conference Professor Roberts presented his experiment and results using the Rochester cyclotron. It was about pion-nucleon scattering. And then, a very small fellow sitting in front of the auditorium, stood up and asked a question about the background contamination to this big Professor Roberts. Literally, Professor Roberts trembled. I later found out this small man was Enrico Fermi. [laughs]
DeVorkin:
Did you meet Fermi then directly? Did you have a chance to talk with him?
Koshiba:
I was introduced by Mort Kaplon, but probably Fermi himself doesn't remember me. After I moved to Chicago, unfortunately, Enrico was already in the hospital. However, through Marcel Schein and his wife Hilde, we were introduced to Lola Fermi, Enrico's wife; they were very nice to us.
DeVorkin:
Once you got your Ph.D. you said your salary increased to $400 a month. Was that at Rochester?
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
DeVorkin:
What was your position there?
Koshiba:
Research associate.
DeVorkin:
So they gave you a research associateship right away. Was this a position that you could have kept? Or were they expecting you to look for another position?
Koshiba:
No. Before that I was already offered a research associateship from Marcel Schein.
DeVorkin:
Oh, I see. Why did you then stay at Rochester after your degree for awhile? How long did you stay there?
Koshiba:
Because my appointment was from the first of July, Rochester university made up this three months.
DeVorkin:
Were you offered this position with Marcel Schein directly, or did you apply for it?
Koshiba:
I applied for it. When I was expecting to receive my degree within a few months, I wrote to Brookhaven and Chicago, because the work there was somewhat related. And then Schein offered me the job.
DeVorkin:
As a research associate. And was it also $400 a month there?
Koshiba:
I think it was better than that. I think it was something like $480.
DeVorkin:
Okay. By now you've been in the United States just about two years, and I'm curious about what your plans were. Did you feel that you would eventually go back to Japan, or did you want to keep your options open?
Koshiba:
I wasn't really thinking of going back to Japan. I had a very tough life there because of the poverty. My father couldn't get a good job, and I had to help my family.
DeVorkin:
Were you sending money home?
Koshiba:
Once a month I sent $100, because my brother was attending Rikkyo University in Tokyo. I gave the money to my brother before I came to Rochester to pay the university tuition. But this young man spent it on other things. About a year later he wrote to me to the effect that unless I paid this much within this period "I will be kicked out of the university." So I borrowed some money from Mort Kaplon and I sent $100 to my young brother.
DeVorkin:
To pay for his tuition.
Koshiba:
So, for the first few months at Rochester, even though I did receive $400, most of the money went to returning debts. [laughs]
DeVorkin:
Oh, sure. Well now you moved to Chicago, and this is —
Koshiba:
'55.
DeVorkin:
In 1955, July, you became a research associate. Were you working in what you called CASA?
Koshiba:
No. That was much later.
DeVorkin:
Oh, that was much later. What was your role then in Marcel Schein's group in 1955?
Koshiba:
Marcel gave me balloon exposed stacks to analyze, and the first work I did was to determine the chemical abundances in the primary cosmic radiation.
DeVorkin:
Right.
Koshiba:
And through this work, I became acquainted with Chandra.
DeVorkin:
Now, let's review the steps that you talked about last night that brought you to the realization that the carbon-nitrogen-oxygen (CNO) to iron ratio was different from what it was as determined by Suess and Urey —
Koshiba:
Urey. The CNO abundance inversion was later corrected in the cosmic abundance data to conform with our cosmic data. So that wasn't a real problem.
DeVorkin:
It was later corrected?
Koshiba:
Yes. Suess and Urey made a correction later.
DeVorkin:
But based on your data.
Koshiba:
I don't know if it was based on my data, but probably they did analyze the spectroscopic data of the sun. You probably know that in order to determine element abundances you have to use the Saha equation in a very complicated process.
DeVorkin:
Correct. And transition probabilities and a lot of things like that are very difficult to determine.
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
DeVorkin:
In analyzing the plate stacks, were the techniques that you used in Chicago any different than the techniques at Rochester and, if so, what were they?
Koshiba:
Well, it was rather simple. In Rochester days, I used a method developed by the Bristol people and the Rochester people, what is called delta-ray counting.
DeVorkin:
Delta-ray, yes. Okay.
Koshiba:
However, this method takes a long time.
DeVorkin:
This is with a microscope?
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. When I moved to Chicago, because I didn't have any group member and only one undergraduate student to help me in the experiment, delta-ray counting is not the method. So I used a really simple technique of what I call gap counting.
DeVorkin:
Gap counting. Yes.
Koshiba:
When the ionization becomes large, the gap on the track becomes smaller. If you make a good, reliable calibration of this gap density, it works as a charge determination of the track.
DeVorkin:
I see. Is this a technique you developed?
Koshiba:
As far as I know, nobody else has used it, unless in a very low energy proton or helium case. Not on heavy elements.
DeVorkin:
This allowed you to correlate plates in the stack better?
Koshiba:
So you make a very thorough calibration all over the entire stack. Because when you collect many events there are cases in which carbons split into 3 alphas, then you know when you see the 3 alphas almost parallel, then the primary has to be carbon 12. Yeah? So, you count the gap on this primary track, then you get calibration on carbon. Something like this, this calibration event, you collect so many of them, and then you can rely on this gap method. But it isn't a very commendable method, because the gap density depends strongly on the development of the plate, its degree of development. So you have to make the calibration on every plate in the stack.
DeVorkin:
Do you use a sensitometer to produce calibration marks on each plate? Because astronomers did that routinely in spectroscopy.
Koshiba:
Yes. But what I used is just a fragmented alpha particle that was traveling from plate to plate, and then I counted the gaps.
DeVorkin:
Ah. Oh, so you used the particles themselves and identified a particle as a calibration source. I see. Aha. Okay. Now, with this technique, with the help of your one undergraduate, is this when you did the CNO iron abundance? And could you go through the steps that led you to realize that it was different from what Suess and Urey had come up with? And what that meant to you, what the significance was?
Koshiba:
As I said to you yesterday, in those days the interest of primary cosmic ray researchers was concentrated on the relative abundance of light nuclei, lithium, beryllium and boron, as compared with the abundances of CNO. Of course that is an important quantity to make estimates of — the amount of interstellar material the primary cosmic radiation had to traverse before reaching our detectors.
DeVorkin:
The interstellar material. Right.
Koshiba:
I noticed first of all this CNO abundance is reversed as compared with Suess and Urey's cosmic abundances. Also, I noticed another thing, that the heavy elements like calcium, and iron, were considerably more abundant than in the Suess and Urey determination, which I couldn't explain. I relayed this result to Marcel Schein, who kindly introduced me to Professor Chandrasekhar. And Chandrasekhar explained to me that there are different types of stars generally divided into the category of young stars and old stars and so forth, all those fundamental results on stars. I then could conclude my paper by saying that judging from the observed chemical abundances of primary cosmic radiation the likely ion source of the primary radiation can be supernovae and so forth. And I thanked Professor Chandrasekhar at the end of the paper.
DeVorkin:
Yes. Now the idea that supernovae were causes, were one source at least of cosmic rays, high-energy cosmic rays, was reasonably well known, but you had mentioned that Hayakawa had made that suggestion.
Koshiba:
Hayakawa.
DeVorkin:
When did he make that suggestion? Do you know?
Koshiba:
I don't remember exactly, but I think a few years before my result was published.
DeVorkin:
But did you know this generally, or did Chandrasekhar tell you about this possibly? Did you make this suggestion independent of knowing of Hayakawa's suggestion?
Koshiba:
I didn't know of Hayakawa's suggestion. I found out only after I came back to Tokyo.
DeVorkin:
I see. But you knew that people had been thinking that supernovae could be the sources of cosmic rays.
Koshiba:
Yes. Many people speculated about that.
DeVorkin:
Yes, okay.
Koshiba:
But when it comes to showing this possibility in the form of experimental data, I didn't know what other people had done before this.
DeVorkin:
I see. Now you said you published this paper in Nuovo Cimento.
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
DeVorkin:
And this was about in, about what year? 1956?
Koshiba:
'56 I believe.
DeVorkin:
Yes. Did you get any reaction to this paper? Did anybody write you?
Koshiba:
Well, the only reaction was from Hayakawa. Hayakawa was very happy.
DeVorkin:
Because it would support his idea. What about from Suess and Urey? Any reaction from them?
Koshiba:
No, they were above it.
DeVorkin:
Oh, so they didn't pay any attention?
Koshiba:
I don't know. [laughs] I didn't hear anything.
DeVorkin:
Okay. Moving on then, at Chicago how did your career progress there? Did you remain a research associate? Did you get a faculty appointment?
Koshiba:
I was a research associate for nearly three years, two years and eight months, and then I was offered an associate professorship from the University of Tokyo. So I came back.
DeVorkin:
You were offered this unbidden. You didn't apply for it?
Koshiba:
I knew that they were searching for either a research assistant or an associate professor. Probably my friend, a senior person, made a recommendation. I was written while I was in Chicago and asked if I intended to accept this appointment. I said if it were an assistant appointment, I wouldn't go back; if it were an associate professorship, I would come back. I came back as an associate professor.
DeVorkin:
Okay, was this after Schein died?
Koshiba:
No, before Schein died.
DeVorkin:
Okay. So will you help me understand how you eventually replaced Schein after he died?
Koshiba:
When I was coming back to Tokyo University, Schein was very kind and gave me a small stack for me to work on in Japan.
DeVorkin:
Okay. By this time you still had not actually worked with balloons. You had been given stacks to analyze.
Koshiba:
That's right.
DeVorkin:
Okay.
Koshiba:
I think it was next year that Schein wrote me saying that he was now organizing a very large scale international collaboration using a big stack. He wanted me to come and help him in this international enterprise. So I took a leave of absence from the University of Tokyo.
DeVorkin:
This was about 1957?
Koshiba:
No, it was 1959.
DeVorkin:
'59. Okay.
Koshiba:
And I went there with my wife.
DeVorkin:
So you were married when you came back to Tokyo?
Koshiba:
After I came back to Tokyo, several arrangements were made for me to get married, and eventually I took one of them.
DeVorkin:
Right. Okay. I've heard of that process.
Koshiba:
[chuckles]
DeVorkin:
Did you interview your wife?
Koshiba:
Oh, yes.
DeVorkin:
Yes. And this was all standard: a go-between and arrangement?
Koshiba:
Yes.
DeVorkin:
What is your wife's name?
Koshiba:
Kyoko.
DeVorkin:
Okay. And does she have a university education?
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. She majored in the history of art, especially Buddhist art.
DeVorkin:
Did she practice her profession at any time?
Koshiba:
Before she married me, she was assistant curator of a museum.
DeVorkin:
But after that she didn't work.
Koshiba:
No. She became a housewife.
DeVorkin:
Right. And so when you took a leave of absence she came with you.
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. And then as I told you, three months after our arrival, Schein died. My wife was already pregnant. My son was born in Chicago.
DeVorkin:
Aha. So he has American citizenship? Or didn't he take it.
Koshiba:
If he wants to, he can have it, mm-hmm.
DeVorkin:
Yes. Now Schein had already flown, or tried to fly the first stack from the Valley Forge, is that right?
Koshiba:
Yes.
DeVorkin:
You were not there for that.
Koshiba:
No. That was before my time.
DeVorkin:
Okay. And that was a failure of the balloon I understand.
Koshiba:
Mmm. Well, let me say it was a partial success.
DeVorkin:
How long did it fly?
Koshiba:
Only seven hours or so, [at a low altitude?].
DeVorkin:
But it was a big payload. It was over a ton, wasn't it?
Koshiba:
Well, altogether it was approaching a ton, but a real payload is not as heavy.
DeVorkin:
Okay. When you arrived in Chicago, what did Schein want you to do? What was your value to the group?
Koshiba:
Well, Schein probably expected me to analyze the primary radiation from this new stack.
DeVorkin:
The one that had flown on the Valley Forge. Okay. And did you actually do that sort of work?
Koshiba:
No, it wasn't developed yet when Schein died.
DeVorkin:
Oh, I see. You said it was developed?
Koshiba:
Yet.
DeVorkin:
And so what was the process after that? When he died that must have been unexpected and a shock to everybody.
Koshiba:
For some time it was turmoil, yes, and the University of Chicago didn't know what to do. So they asked Professor Occhialini, who was at that time spending a year in Bruno Rossi's group at MIT, to come and give advice.
DeVorkin:
And what did he do?
Koshiba:
Occhialini came and interviewed all the group members of Professor Schein, and eventually recommended me as the one to succeed Marcel's role as the principal investigator of this whole thing. So that was the beginning of my busy days.
DeVorkin:
Busy days?
Koshiba:
Mmm.
DeVorkin:
So how did you restart the program?
Koshiba:
It wasn't easy. First of all, Marcel had used up all the research funds. Almost every week, with the help of Professor Occhialini, I had to make a trip to Washington, D.C. asking for more money. We visited the Office of Naval Research, and the National Science Foundation. I didn't go to the Atomic Energy Commission in those days, because Marcel had contracts only with NSF and ONR. So I visited those two offices.
DeVorkin:
And what was your experience?
Koshiba:
Well, that was my first experience to get my own funding. It wasn't easy. I sometimes made our section head angry.
DeVorkin:
Angry?
Koshiba:
Yes.
DeVorkin:
How did you manage that?
Koshiba:
Because I was too outspoken.
DeVorkin:
In what way? What were you saying to him?
Koshiba:
Oh, what had to be done, how to do it, and so forth. In exasperation, the man said to me, "Are you trying to tell me how to run this office?"
DeVorkin:
And you said?
Koshiba:
I had no such intention. It might have sounded like that due to my poor English. It wasn't easy.
DeVorkin:
Were you only trying to be very forceful about the importance of the program?
Koshiba:
I tried to be persuasive. A few years later after all the operations with balloons were over, I received a letter from the Chief of Naval Operations. The letter said that I was very persistent and persuasive and so forth. I don't remember exactly the phrasing. But that was nice of him. Eventually I got the research funding, and then started to go about exposing the remaining stack.
DeVorkin:
This was a large collaborative project.
Koshiba:
Yes.
DeVorkin:
How many different groups were involved, and how were they organized?
Koshiba:
Oh, about 12 countries were involved, including Poland.
DeVorkin:
And did each country send a representative to Chicago?
Koshiba:
In later stages, yes.
DeVorkin:
And how was the work divided up? I mean in the way that Schein had done it, and then how did you change it?
Koshiba:
The idea was that almost everything was to be done by the University of Chicago group, like purchasing the stack and preparing the block and container, contracting with the balloon company, actually exposing and developing and fixing, and cutting the stacks into usable sizes. Only after the plates were exposed and processed, and the only remaining thing was to use a microscope to look at the plate to find the event and analyze it, did the collaborating groups enter the picture. They got a certain portion of the stack, started analyzing it, and then brought the data together.
DeVorkin:
I see. Did you continue that sort of organization?
Koshiba:
Yes. [laughs]
DeVorkin:
But you were now the one leading the project. Were you still employed as an associate professor by the University of Tokyo.
Koshiba:
Yes, I was on leave of absence.
DeVorkin:
An extended leave.
Koshiba:
The University of Chicago gave me the honorary title of visiting associate professor. That was only honorary. Officially, I was the acting director of the laboratory for high-energy physics and cosmic radiation of the University of Chicago.
DeVorkin:
This was a large collaboration.
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
DeVorkin:
Okay. Now you were the one who had to do all the organizational work. But you mentioned last night that you had a number of bids from different companies and you decided on a certain combination. Could you review that for the interview now. Was this the way Schein did it, or did you change vendors let's say?
Koshiba:
No. Marcel didn't go into the details of the balloon launching operation. He had the idea of using an aircraft carrier.
DeVorkin:
An aircraft carrier. Yes.
Koshiba:
But that could be done only because he was a big shot with the Navy. But that couldn't be done for me. So I had to think about various ways of launching the stack safely and recovering it with certainty. I discussed many possible solutions with Professor Occhialini.
DeVorkin:
Did he stay in Chicago?
Koshiba:
No, he came to Chicago almost every month, and stayed several days each time.
DeVorkin:
Did he also go to Washington with you?
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative], sometimes, yes.
DeVorkin:
So he helped in that regard.


Create Date : 20 พฤษภาคม 2556
Last Update : 20 พฤษภาคม 2556 16:03:27 น. 1 comments
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