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จากนักเรียนท้ายแถวสู่นักฟิสิกส์รางวัลโนเบล (3)

Koshiba:
Yes.
DeVorkin:
Was he officially a part of the collaboration?
Koshiba:
No. He was what you might call the supreme advisor of the whole thing.
DeVorkin:
Okay. So how did you decide to build the second balloon system?
Koshiba:
Well, I knew that the Raven Company had the best launching crew, and I also knew that Winzen produced the best balloons. So I wanted to combine these two. In the end, General Mills came in forcefully with their own plan. They wanted to make a contract to launch a stack, and to expose it using a General Mills balloon and a General Mills launching crew.
DeVorkin:
How were they able to do that? I mean, did they come only to you, or did they go to ONR? Did they exert pressure somehow?
Koshiba:
I did get some pressure from the government side. I don't remember exactly from whom, but General Mills was a very powerful organization; they must have worked some way or the other. I didn't approve of the launching procedures of General Mills and also I didn't have very much confidence in General Mills in general. We wrote down the conditions of a successful flight operation, and further stipulated that only when these conditions were satisfied would we pay the $40,000 launch fee. They accepted these conditions, to remain aloft for a minimum of six hours at an altitude of 70,000 feet. These were rather easy requirements. However, the operation didn't satisfy the conditions, so I didn't pay a penny. Later they came back and wanted their $40,000, but because of the agreement they couldn't do anything.
DeVorkin:
You had saved the document and the Chicago lawyers defended it. Yes. When you wanted to mix together Raven and Winzen, were they willing to do that?
Koshiba:
Yes.
DeVorkin:
They were happy to do that?
Koshiba:
Probably Mr. Winzen wasn't very happy, but I insisted.
DeVorkin:
All of these people sort of grew out of the General Mills group anyway.
Koshiba:
Right.
DeVorkin:
So they're all kind of connected.
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
DeVorkin:
When the General Mills-based flight didn't meet your expectations, what did you do? Did you plan a third flight?
Koshiba:
I haven't had anything to do with General Mills since.
DeVorkin:
But you still wanted to fly a stack. How did you go about arranging for that? You didn't have to pay General Mills, so apparently you —
Koshiba:
I had the full amount in my hand still.
DeVorkin:
Yes. Did you go back to Winzen and Raven?
Koshiba:
I contacted Raven, and authorized them to purchase a Winzen balloon.
DeVorkin:
Okay. And where did they fly from?
Koshiba:
There were two flights. The first one was from the Naval Air Station, Glynco in Georgia.
DeVorkin:
You had an interesting story about that.
Koshiba:
Henry Miller?
DeVorkin:
Right.
Koshiba:
Am I to repeat it?
DeVorkin:
Sure. It's an interesting story.
Koshiba:
[laughs]
DeVorkin:
You were down there, about when was this?
Koshiba:
It was sometime around May or June of '60. In order to launch a big balloon you had to have very good weather conditions, especially the surface winds. So I stayed in the bachelor officers' quarters, and every evening I would go to the bar and have a drink. One day a very handsome looking young ensign came over to me and we started up a conversation. This young man then asked me if I had read any English novels. I thought I would tease him, so I said “Maybe you have never read this man's book, because his books are banned in this country and they are available only in Paris.” “Who is that?” he said. I said, “Henry Miller. Do you know him?” And this young man's eyes beamed at me, and asked “Do you really think Henry Miller is the greatest English author?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “You know what? I grew up calling him Uncle Henry.” “What?” I said. And he explained his mother was a divorcee who lived with Henry Miller for some years. At the end of our conversation, this young man said to me, “Uncle Henry is planning a half a year trip to Japan. Would you give him help?” I said, “Of course, if there is anything I can do I will be glad to help him.” Then the balloon was launched, the fate of which I told you about yesterday. I came back to Chicago, and left immediately on a 2-week trip to Moscow. When I got back, I found an air mail letter waiting for me. In the old days, there was one sheet of paper which you folded.
DeVorkin:
Yes. An aerogramme.
Koshiba:
Yes. An Aerogramme. That was the form of his letter in his own handwriting. My wife still keeps that letter somewhere, but I remember the content went something like this, "My young friend so-and-so tells me that you can help me in Japan. That's very nice of you. Please find a Japanese lady who can take care of me during the six months of my stay in Japan." Luckily I didn't have to answer him, because he had already gone.
DeVorkin:
Yes. That was an interesting side-light. Now about the flight, how did that go?
Koshiba:
Well, as I said, it had to go through a cloud layer and —
DeVorkin:
You launched it through a cloud layer. Yes.
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative], and it must have received a lightning bolt which in turn must have broken the circuit of cutting the payload from the balloon. So when the balloon floated to Texas, our crew wanted to cut the payload down using a the small airplane. It didn't work.
DeVorkin:
The airplane couldn't reach the altitude?
Koshiba:
No. In any case a small plane cannot reach the balloon's altitude of some 76,000 feet.
DeVorkin:
Right.
Koshiba:
So you send a radio signal to cut the payload down with a parachute. However, the receiving circuit on the balloon must have been damaged by the lightning, because it didn't respond. It stayed on the continent for a few more days and then drifted to the San Diego area. I had to call the Pacific Fleet people to shoot it down.
DeVorkin:
How did you call them? I mean, what channels of communication did you have that allowed you to do that? Was it through your ONR project manager?
Koshiba:
Yes, because I was the principal investigator of a rather large sum — in those days nearly a million dollars was really a big project.
DeVorkin:
Sure.
Koshiba:
So the Office of Naval Research gave me a sort of corresponding rank in the Navy that allowed me to talk directly to the staffs of the Pacific Fleet in San Diego. At first, they proposed to send fighters and shoot the balloon and burst it. Accordingly, they sent four fighters which had to dive first and then climb, because the balloon was at such a high altitude.
DeVorkin:
Right.
Koshiba:
Three out of the four fighters chickened out, only one of them fired at the balloon. But because it's such a huge balloon, a couple of bullet holes didn't make any difference.
DeVorkin:
Yes. What was the volume of the balloon?
Koshiba:
Ten million cubic feet.
DeVorkin:
Yes, that's a big balloon.
Koshiba:
Yes.
DeVorkin:
So it didn't work.
Koshiba:
No. Then one of the staff suggested the use of a sidewinder missile. But I knew that the sidewinder homes on the infrared.
DeVorkin:
Infrared.
Koshiba:
Yes. I told the staff that our precious payload was painted red, and that the sidewinder may home in on the payload rather than the balloon. So that was out.
DeVorkin:
Right.
Koshiba:
And then I remembered the high flying airplane, the U-2. I asked if a U-2 was available, and they said "Yes, we do have a U-2." I suggested that they attach an anchor to the U-2 and make the anchor knife-edge sharp so that it can rip open a plastic balloon. A couple of hours later they called me back, and said "I'm sorry, but the U-2 is full of photographic equipment, and not only that, the U-2 is built very lightly, so therefore it cannot take the" —
DeVorkin:
Drag?
Koshiba:
Yes. It was not strong enough to hold the anchor and to rip up the balloon. I must say I wasn't kind with those people. I shouted that, "Well, you people spend lots of money and claim to be able to shoot down an ICBM from Russia, and you are telling me that you cannot shoot down a slow-moving balloon which is only at 70,000 feet?"
DeVorkin:
What did they say?
Koshiba:
[laughs] Well, they couldn't really say anything. I wasn't very nice.
DeVorkin:
I guess they could have gotten it with a sidewinder, but the problem there is that you didn't want to destroy the payload. So this was a delicate operation.
Koshiba:
That's right. Yes. So that was that. That payload was finally lost over the Pacific.
DeVorkin:
Yes. You said that somebody later, a Russian physicist —?
Koshiba:
Joked about it, yes.
DeVorkin:
Who was that?
Koshiba:
I don't remember. I think it was Chudakov, who is a well-known cosmic ray man in Russia, an academician. But I'm not sure if it was him or not.
DeVorkin:
But somebody apparently just took you aside at a meeting and said, “We have it”?
Koshiba:
“Some unknown red-painted object came down from sky in the thick forest of Siberia.” [laughs]
DeVorkin:
Did you know anything about the classified balloon reconnaissance programs that the United States had called Moby Dick that would go all the way around the world?
Koshiba:
In a sealed Mylar balloon. Yes.
DeVorkin:
And photograph just at random over the Soviet Union. Did you know?
Koshiba:
No, I didn't know exactly what was going on, but I did know that some people were very much involved in developing a superpressure Mylar balloon.
DeVorkin:
Okay. Now when that one didn't work, did you fly again?
Koshiba:
Yes. The next launching operation was from the State of California. There is a small town near the Mexican border by the name of Brawley.
DeVorkin:
Why was that chosen?
Koshiba:
At the time (autumn, 1960) the upper winds were predominately from the west. So in order to make use of the whole width of the American continent, the launching had better take place in as western a place as possible.
DeVorkin:
Yes. Right.
Koshiba:
This operation was very successful. Raven people did a very good job; the balloon reached an altitude of 100,000 feet, and stayed at that height for more than 36 hours. Of course, the balloon was chased by a small airplane. The payload was dropped over the State of South Carolina, and came down in a very busy highway in rush hour — it stopped all traffic. [laughs] But the police immediately took care of it, and safely returned it back to Chicago. No casualties.
DeVorkin:
No casualties. Right. But did any official get angry or were there any letters of protest?
Koshiba:
No.
DeVorkin:
Okay. So then you finally had a plate stack that you could distribute.
Koshiba:
Not right away. We started the 24-hour operation of unpacking the payload and sealing each nuclear emulsion in a big glass, drying it, developing it, fixing it, and then cutting it.
DeVorkin:
Oh, so you would mount the nuclear emulsions on glass before you developed them. Uh-huh. Okay.
Koshiba:
That took about six weeks of a full 24 hours operation.
DeVorkin:
Yes. How many people did you have working with you at that time?
Koshiba:
I had altogether about 17 or 18 people.
DeVorkin:
Seventeen or 18 people. So it was a good-sized team. And that didn't include collaborators from the other institutions?
Koshiba:
One or two people came to help, but most of the collaborators stayed away.
DeVorkin:
What were the scientific results from this flight? What would you say were the most significant?
Koshiba:
Well, unfortunately the stack was divided up too soon. The ideal situation would be for the collaborators to join the analysis in one place where you can go from one end to the other.
DeVorkin:
One end of the stack to the other end?
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. But when it is divided in pieces and distributed all over the world, and you reach the end of your part, you have to send a cable, or a telegram, to your neighboring collaborator. So it wasn't very efficient, I must say. However, we did get a good result on the nuclear-nuclear interaction in the 1000 GeV energy range, which was completely unavailable from accelerators. In those days accelerators could produce only 40 GeV or so.
DeVorkin:
And this was 1000 GeV. Yes. Indeed you were working at the forefront of high energy interactions. Now, during this time you came to know other ballooning people. You mentioned last night the Minnesota group. Also, at Rochester there were Bradt and Peters. Were they still there when you were there?
Koshiba:
Yes. Peters was I think at MIT.
DeVorkin:
Oh, okay, but Bradt was at Rochester.
Koshiba:
Bradt died before I arrived.
DeVorkin:
Oh, I see. So you really didn't meet any of them.
Koshiba:
The only person from that old collaboration was Mort Kaplon. That's one of the reasons why I had chosen him as my thesis advisor.
DeVorkin:
How did you get to know the Minnesota group, the people at Minnesota?
Koshiba:
Well, I was invited to give a talk.
DeVorkin:
Ah, uh-huh, at Columbia.
Koshiba:
I went there and met Ed Nye, and immediately we became good friends.
DeVorkin:
He was a wonderful fellow.
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
DeVorkin:
They had been working on experimental balloons for quite some time.
Koshiba:
That's right. That was before my time.
DeVorkin:
Yes. But at this time were you interested at all in the mechanism of ballooning, in developing balloon systems? Because the Minnesota group was very big in that. You mentioned, for example, how Ed Nye invented the duct design to vent helium from balloons. I didn't know he was the one who had done that.
Koshiba:
I'm not sure whether it was actually Ed Nye or not, but I guess it was because of the talks we had.
DeVorkin:
Did you meet Ed Lofgren, or Al Nier, or Phyllis Frier?
Koshiba:
Yes, I met them, but only casually.
DeVorkin:
So it was Ed Nye that you established a relationship with. Okay.
Koshiba:
I had mentioned that I took a colleague of mine, a Japanese colleague to Minneapolis, whose name was Jun Nishimura. Nishimura later became the director of ISAS, was much more interested in the balloon itself than I was.
DeVorkin:
Okay.
Koshiba:
And he is considered the father of ballooning in Japan.
DeVorkin:
Uh-huh. And so this was his introduction when you took him to Minneapolis? This was his introduction to the ballooning systems?
Koshiba:
No, even before that he had some experience with plastic balloons.
DeVorkin:
I see. Okay. That is interesting. Because I always like to find out if scientists who used rockets for scientific research right after the war became interested in the problem of working on rockets, rather than what kind of science they were doing with them. But I take it there was never any question in your mind; it was always the science?
Koshiba:
Yes. I wasn't very much interested in the balloon itself. I just wanted to learn how to make a successful balloon launch for research purposes. But Professor Nishimura was also interested in fabricating balloons and so forth.
DeVorkin:
Was this the final flight that you did?
Koshiba:
Final flight. Yes.
DeVorkin:
Was the contract with ONR basically to get one successful flight and then it would be over?
Koshiba:
Yes. But they provided me a subsistence fund for the laboratory.
DeVorkin:
During that time.
Koshiba:
Afterward.
DeVorkin:
Afterwards. So you stayed at Chicago.
Koshiba:
After the operation, yes. Mm-hmm [affirmative].
DeVorkin:
How long did you stay?
Koshiba:
Well, I stayed until the end of August '62, so a year and nine months.
DeVorkin:
Yes. Now you mentioned last night something about the Chicago air shower array. Does this come later?
Koshiba:
Oh yes. That was much later.
DeVorkin:
So we won't talk about it now. The Auger project was much more —
Koshiba:
That was still more recent.
DeVorkin:
Okay. There was no intention then for you to stay at Chicago. You decided that, in '62 with the project over, —
Koshiba:
To go back to the University of Tokyo.
DeVorkin:
Okay. What were your plans, your professional plans, in returning to Tokyo?
Koshiba:
Well, I wasn't quite sure. When I went back to the Institute for Nuclear Study of the University of Tokyo, it was considered to be open not only to the University of Tokyo faculty, but also to other national university people. There was a steering committee formed by professors of many universities — many powerful people. As I said before, the stack is very useful when it is kept in the same place in order to facilitate efficient analysis. If it is divided into many places and distributed to different places, it slows the process down and a loss in accuracy of results.
DeVorkin:
It's hard to recombine the data?
Koshiba:
Mmm [affirmative].
DeVorkin:
Okay.
Koshiba:
But those big shot people wanted to get their share and take it back to their local universities.
DeVorkin:
Oh, so your share had to be divided among?
Koshiba:
Further.
DeVorkin:
Further. Oh my heavens. Okay.
Koshiba:
So I protested. That made me very unpopular. After about one year I had had enough. I wanted to go back to the United States, because I did have a couple of offers from American universities. Just at that time a different faculty, the faculty of science of the University of Tokyo was looking for an associate professor. I applied. I decided that if they didn't accept me, I'd go back to United States. Luckily I was accepted. So I moved to the physics department of the faculty of science and left the Institute for Nuclear Study.
DeVorkin:
Oh, so you went to the University Tokyo proper.
Koshiba:
Yes.
DeVorkin:
And it was a faculty of science.
Koshiba:
Mmm [affirmative].
DeVorkin:
This Institute for Nuclear Studies was a consortium of many universities. That's what you were saying?
Koshiba:
Essentially yes.
DeVorkin:
Now I see. Okay.
Koshiba:
Even though nominally it was part of the University of Tokyo, and was supposed to be open to many other universities.
DeVorkin:
So you achieved a regular faculty slot at the university rather than an institute slot. What was the relationship as far as research potential was concerned between institutes and universities in Japan, at least at that time? Did institutes have a higher status? Did they have more research funding than universities, or was it the other way around?
Koshiba:
Well, if I may make a frank statement, those open institutions, like the Institute for Nuclear Study, or KEK, which are national open laboratories —
DeVorkin:
National —?
Koshiba:
Laboratory for high energy physics.
DeVorkin:
Right. Yes?
Koshiba:
They do get very large accelerators and plenty of funding for experimentation, but when it comes to the level of people as a scientist I think some of the national universities like the University of Tokyo are higher. For instance, even in the United States, take the case the Brookhaven. Okay? It is run by a university consortium.
DeVorkin:
Right. AUI (Associated Universities, Inc.)
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. And good experiments are originally the proposed by university people. Right? Like the J-particle discovery, or Jim Cronin's PC violation.
DeVorkin:
Mm-hmm [affirmative], yes, very important.
Koshiba:
So the national laboratories should be willing to accept the original proposals of outside university people. I think that's very important.
DeVorkin:
Now that's true in the United States. Is it true here in Japan?
Koshiba:
I wish I could say yes. When I was a council member at KEK, I did make a lot of noise.
DeVorkin:
A lot of noise. [laughs] Well, okay, going back then to your returning, you stayed in Japan, you became a regular faculty member at the University of Tokyo, and you had your small sample of plates to analyze. What was the end result of that work?
Koshiba:
When I moved to the faculty of science, I was supposed to take a graduate student every year, right?
DeVorkin:
Right.
Koshiba:
Luckily every year two or three graduate students wanted to come to my laboratory. Since I had nothing but just a block of nuclear emulsion, I gave this emulsion to these people to analyze, and some of them did write doctoratal theses. But I worried about the future of those young people if they only learned the nuclear emulsion technique — it would not be easy for them to find jobs in the future. I thought then of switching to the analysis of bubble chamber pictures.
DeVorkin:
Oh, let me ask this. The method of reduction of analysis of the plate stacks, did it remain the same, direct manual observation with microscopes?
Koshiba:
We did try to introduce some computer help, but in those days computers were still in a primitive state, so we didn't do very much.
DeVorkin:
So it was still largely manual.
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
DeVorkin:
Okay.
Koshiba:
And then when I looked around the world at the situation in which large bubble chambers were analyzed, I was rather discouraged because even if you had say $4 million to install couple of analyzing machines and hire ten scanners and so forth, still you can be only one of the collaborating groups of a big bubble chamber collaboration.
DeVorkin:
Yes, this is the idea of forming a big group and taking your bubble chamber to KEK and buying time.
Koshiba:
Yes.
DeVorkin:
Okay.
Koshiba:
That is not the type of work I like. To be just one part of a big collaboration, that is not to my liking.
DeVorkin:
Not your style.
Koshiba:
No. So I thought of switching my experimental work to electronics counter experiment.
DeVorkin:
Still doing cosmic rays, but doing it with counters?
Koshiba:
Because there was no good accelerator in Japan in those days. One of the results we obtained from the analysis of the big nuclear stack was that there was good reason to expect parallel high-energy muons, multiple muons, to be observed deep underground. There was already report of this phenomena from the Russian groups and from the Utah group.
DeVorkin:
From Utah?
Koshiba:
Yes. Occasionally, there is a case in which two parallel muons are observed, and very rarely three muons.
DeVorkin:
Was there any theory to back this up?
Koshiba:
No theories. But from the analysis of the 1000 GeV nuclear interactions, I thought there was reason to expect a more abundant occurrence of such multiple muon phenomena. So as a first electronics attempt, I set up an underground experiment in 1969 or so, almost 30 years ago. The same company, the Kamioka Mine Company, has a main office in Kamioka Town, which is about 10 kilometer south of this place.
DeVorkin:
Where we are now.
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. And there is another mine. I was introduced to the president of this company by a very powerful man. In those days, this mine prospered.
DeVorkin:
Mining tin and zinc primarily?
Koshiba:
That's right. By order of the president himself, our experimental cave was prepared, and telephone and power lines were installed at the company's expense. What I did was to set up there a rather large, 3 meter by 3 meter, spark chamber, which can be used to follow the tracks of charged particles. We triggered this spark chamber by two layers of plastic scintillators. I was happy with the results of this experiment, because we did observe multiple muons up to a multiplicity of 18. That was the experiment by which Professor Totsuka received his Ph.D.
DeVorkin:
Aha. So he was working with you at that time.
Koshiba:
Yes, he was a second year student.
DeVorkin:
This is something then that theoreticians had to explain.
Koshiba:
Well, it is a rather complicated phenomena, and we did give our own interpretation in our paper, but since it cannot be analyzed in a clear-cut way, not many people were interested in it, unfortunately.
DeVorkin:
To what degree did you maintain your knowledge of theory, as particle physics continued to change? This was before the grand unified model. But there were a lot of problems with it, and a lot of things just didn't fit, quarks had been hypothesized but not yet seen, it sort of was in a messy state. What did you think of theory at that time, the late sixties?
Koshiba:
Well, as I said before, I had a very good friend in theory, Nambu in Chicago.
DeVorkin:
Yes. Did you stay in contact with Nambu after?
Koshiba:
Well, I called by phone and —
DeVorkin:
Oh, he spent half a year here, isn't that right, in Tokyo?
Koshiba:
Yes, after his retirement, yes.
DeVorkin:
Oh, I see, yes. We didn't talk about Nambu. But you came —
Koshiba:
He was a great physicist.
DeVorkin:
And you came to know him in Chicago.
Koshiba:
No, before that.
DeVorkin:
Oh. When?
Koshiba:
When I was a first year graduate student, he was already a professor at Osaka City University.
DeVorkin:
Oh, I see.
Koshiba:
I spent one month in his laboratory.
DeVorkin:
I see. As a theorist he had a laboratory?
Koshiba:
No, I shouldn't call it laboratory. His seminar room.
DeVorkin:
Fair enough. Okay.
Koshiba:
I spread a futon on the table and stayed there for one month. [laughs]
DeVorkin:
So you would talk with Nambu about the state of particle physics, the theory?
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative], and also I had another good friend in theory named Nishijima.
DeVorkin:
You relied on others to give you the latest insight in theory?
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative].
DeVorkin:
Okay. So you were now moving into electronic detectors, and you had detected parallel muons up to 18, which sounds like quite an achievement. Has that ever been explained?
Koshiba:
Not completely. For instance, Barry Barish at Cal Tech —
DeVorkin:
Who?
Koshiba:
Barry Barish of Cal Tech.
DeVorkin:
Okay. I don't know that name.
Koshiba:
He's a big shot in physics. He started a similar experiment, very much bigger in size than our's in Gran Sasso, and they have been observing similar multiple muon events.
DeVorkin:
This gets us now to about 1970, 1971. What were your plans for the future for your experiments?
Koshiba:
Well, it just happened that there was a conference in Moscow around 1960 or so, which I attended. A Russian cosmic ray physicist came up to me, and said there is a Professor Budker who wants to speak to me. So Budker arranged a dinner party, and that was the first time I met him.Budker was a very good physicist and experimentalist, one of the pioneers in electron-positron colliding machines. He was building such a machine in Novosibirsk. Budker wanted me to come to Novosibirsk and carry out a joint experiment with his e+e- colliding machine. I was interested, but it required a number of difficulties to be overcome. First of all, it required a considerable amount of research money. Another thing was that it was prohibited by international agreement called COCOM, which prohibits western countries from exporting front-line electronics and computers to Russia.
DeVorkin:
So this is a Cold War problem.
Koshiba:
That's right. But I could manage to overcome the obstacles, and I was seriously thinking of doing the joint experiment there in Novosibirsk.
DeVorkin:
So he was interested in the electronics that you had, your electronic technology.
Koshiba:
The participation of my group in the experiment.
DeVorkin:
Yes.
Koshiba:
However, you know there is a saying in Russia, when you become an academician you can have everything. You get a big house, you have a chauffeured car, you get a dacha —
DeVorkin:
A what? Oh dacha, yes, summer house.
Koshiba:
But, they cannot obtain hard currency, foreign currency. All that an academician gets is rubles. What do they do? Because there is nothing else to do, they start changing their lives. They divorce their wife and get a new one. After about four wives they have a heart attack.
DeVorkin:
A what?
Koshiba:
Heart attack. That was exactly what happened to Budker.
DeVorkin:
You mean they have nothing else to do? What promotes this kind of behavior?
Koshiba:
Enjoyment. In the western world you can go out, take a boat trip to the Caribbean and so forth, and buy good things with your own money. But the Russian people with rubles cannot do that.
DeVorkin:
They can't go outside of Russia is what you mean, so things get very confined.
Koshiba:
Yes. That's why they start changing their wives.
DeVorkin:
I see. That's their form of recreation?
Koshiba:
Yes.
DeVorkin:
I see.
Koshiba:
Well, Budker got a heart attack. Even though I persuaded our ministry of foreign affairs to send an official document to the Russian government concerning our joint experiment in Novasibersk, the Russian government didn't give a straightforward affirmative answer. So I went to Novasibersk and discussed the situation and future possibilities. I said to Budker that unfortunately he was sick, and that there was no foreseeable possibility for a joint experiment in Novasibersk. I suggested that we call it off until he recovered his health. And then I went to Frascati, Italy where e+e- collider, Adone, was working.
DeVorkin:
Who was that?
Koshiba:
Adone is the name of the colliding machine. It's a nickname.
DeVorkin:
You went there to work actually?
Koshiba:
No, to see if there was anything we could do there. And then I went to CERN, Geneva, where a proton-proton colliding machine was working.
DeVorkin:
Right. Now there were all these possibilities. How much time did you spend at CERN, and did you perform any experiments while you were there?
Koshiba:
No. I spent only a week or so.
DeVorkin:
So these were visits to find out what was being done.
Koshiba:
Yes, what could be done. What would be the possibility of participation.
DeVorkin:
I take it this was about 1970-71 and you were a full professor? You were about 44 years old?
Koshiba:
Wait a minute. I think I became a full professor in 1970 or so.
DeVorkin:
And you were in your mid-late forties?
Koshiba:
Middle forties. I was 44.
DeVorkin:
Middle forties, forty-four, right. Is it correct to say that at this time you were searching for a new direction?
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative], that's correct.
DeVorkin:
Okay. You weren't quite sure what you wanted to do.
Koshiba:
Yes. First of all there was Adone at Frascati. I didn't see very much of a future there, because a number of experiments had already been done, and upper limit of the energy achieved was only 3 GeV. Second, at CERN, as I said, there was a proton-proton colliding machine, but I wasn't very much interested, because the collisions are very much more complex than e+e- collisions. I like the simplicity. So after CERN I went to DESY, Hamburg, Deutsche Electron em Synchrotron. Luckily there was a professor there who was a member of my Chicago group, we became very good friends, and he helped me and introduced me to a number of people at DESY. At that time DESY was building a new e+e- colliding machine called DORIS. There were two experiments being prepared, and we joined one of the two, called DASP, for Double Arm Spectrometer.
DeVorkin:
Okay. So you had the backing of your university, you knew that you had some equity there, and you were looking, you were now realizing that you had to join a larger group at an accelerator to continue on in the area, and you were just looking for the best place.
Koshiba:
Yes.
DeVorkin:
Okay. You didn't include the United States in this. Is there any reason?
Koshiba:
Well, because I was very much interested in an e+e- collider.
DeVorkin:
And that work was not going on in the United States.
Koshiba:
Well, there was activity, of course, at Stanford.
DeVorkin:
Oh, at the linear accelerator. Yes.
Koshiba:
Yes. There was a colliding machine there.
DeVorkin:
Yes, that's right, okay.
Koshiba:
But because of Professor Lohrmann, who was my group member in Chicago —
DeVorkin:
Lohrmann. Okay. Because of him you went to DESY and then decided that that was a good collaboration. Okay.
Koshiba:
And then we started. I did obtain the research funds for this collaboration, made all the arrangements at DESY, but since I did not contribute to this experiment I didn't put my name on the paper at all. I sent my younger people, like Totsuka.
DeVorkin:
Oh, I see, okay. So people in the group were there, just not your name. Did your people find that unusual or other people find that unusual to —?
Koshiba:
Well, many people expected that I would include my name in the collaborator list, but I specifically said no, my name was out.
DeVorkin:
And why was that? Why did you decide —?
Koshiba:
Because what I did was only to make the arrangements for the experiment. If I designed part of the detectors, then I wouldn't mind putting my name on it.
DeVorkin:
But in arranging for the experiment, you had a particular goal in mind.
Koshiba:
Yes. But, maybe a later example will explain my attitude.
DeVorkin:
Well, I'm very interested in it, especially because of the famous example of Jocelyn Bell and Anthony Hewish and the discovery of pulsars. Many people said that she should have been given the credit, but other people argued no, because she hadn't built the entire facility and created the infrastructure. So I'll be very interested as you describe your attitude and your philosophy.
Koshiba:
Probably it will become gradually clear if I go on to explain the attitude I took in the following experiment.
DeVorkin:
Good. Please do.
Koshiba:
Now, this DASP experiment was lucky in the sense that not many people were interested in the e+e- experiment. Because many people thought that: "oh, they just have electromagnetic interaction, nothing new will come out." However, only a few months after we started this DASP operation, there was a discovery by the SPEAR people at Stanford and also the discovery of the J particle at Brookhaven, which was really a new era of particle physics. So DASP immediately changed the beam energy, and followed up. They discovered a new state too. So I was very happy about the DASP experiment, even though I sent only three of my young people there.
DeVorkin:
How many did you have in total? How many students and assistants by then?
Koshiba:
About six.
DeVorkin:
And you sent half of them there.
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. In international collaboration we can send only our most advanced students. It takes too much time to take care of a first year graduate student.
DeVorkin:
Sure. About the international collaborations, your university of course was providing manpower and funding —
Koshiba:
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. And part of the equipment.
DeVorkin:
And part of the equipment. But did it also make it possible for you to apply to international sources of funding?
Koshiba:
What international sources?
DeVorkin:
UNESCO, for example?
Koshiba:
Never thought of it.
DeVorkin:
Never did that. Okay. Just a query.
Koshiba:
The next development was that DESY was building a bigger colliding machine, called PETRA.
DeVorkin:
PETRA. Yes, I've heard of that. There are so many of these.
Koshiba:
Oh yes. Through the experiment, DASP, we made a number of very good German friends, like Professor Heintze of Heidelberg University.
DeVorkin:
Heintze. Okay.
Koshiba:
He is a good physicist; his group was very good in buildng what are called drift chambers, big drift chambers. So in proposing an experiment to PETRA, we joined Heintze's group. Together we designed the experiment detector, using what is called modular lead glass, an electromagnetic detector. Lead glass, Pb.
DeVorkin:
Lead glass.
Koshiba:
This type of detector came from the student experiment I gave to one of the second year graduate students back in Tokyo. I asked him to make a modular type lead glass bar next to each other to form a lattice so that you can get the position and the energy in every direction. And then this idea was developed to form this lead glass barrel.
DeVorkin:
Barrel?
Koshiba:
Barrel. And this detector was very useful and very accurate. This same type of detector, a lead glass modular type detector, was also used in the next experiment at CERN using what is called LEP. So this PETRA experiment called JADE, which is short for Japan-Deutschland-England. In later years an American group participated, it gave the "A".
DeVorkin:
The "A" was in there. So it was originally JDE.
Koshiba:
No, J-A-D-E, JApan-Deutschland-England. JADE did produce a good result in observing what is called a 3-jet event.
DeVorkin:
3-jet?
Koshiba:
Mmm [affirmative]. Implying the existence of a gluon. I think it was last year that the European Physical Society gave a special prize to those experimental groups at PETRA responsible for finding gluons.
DeVorkin:
And this experiment, JADE, was the first to find evidence that something with the properties of gluons existed.
Koshiba:
Yes.
DeVorkin:
Because there are many kinds of gluons.
Koshiba:
Yes.
DeVorkin:
I mean, there are so many it's —
Koshiba:
Nobody has ever seen a naked gluon.
DeVorkin:
Right.
Koshiba:
But I was happy with JADE. Since this lead glass detector originally was my idea, I allowed my name to be put on the papers. But only the first five or six.
DeVorkin:
There were quite a few papers then coming from this.
Koshiba:
Yes, exactly. In the beginning the first five or six papers contain my name.
DeVorkin:
This was a very important discovery. I would imagine that your reputation by then must have been pretty considerable.
Koshiba:
Well, I don't know myself, but after about six papers I told my people to delete my name.
DeVorkin:
Did they protest?
Koshiba:
To some extent yes, but I was stubborn. [laughs] And the same thing happened at the LEP experiment which is called OPAL.
DeVorkin:
OPAL, yes. All of these are acronyms I understand.
Koshiba:
Yes.
DeVorkin:
Yes. But I've heard of them, and they're in the literature, are they not? I mean, I know you've talked about them in your, some of them, in your history. The article you gave me yesterday on the observational neutrino in astrophysics, your beginning preliminaries on elementary particle physics leading up to the grand unified theory, there were a lot of elements in there that I saw explained for the first time. Very good. So then you joined OPAL?
Koshiba:
Yes. I allowed my name to be put on the collaborators list on the first six or seven papers, but not after.
DeVorkin:
How many authors were there on some of these papers?
Koshiba:
In the case of OPAL, altogether about 350 or something like that.
DeVorkin:
Three hundred and fifty. [laughs]
Koshiba:
Well, that is not my type of experiment. As I said, when a student is well advanced to the late years of graduate school, you can send those students to write doctoral thesis at one of the international corporations. Assistant professors, associate professors and assistants I sent to the site can take care of the thesis-making students. However, what do we do with the undergraduate physics student or the student in the first three or four years of graduate study? Just give lectures, or do the laboratory work? I like to have something I can bring to the frontiers of physics — first or second year graduate students or even undergraduates. I want to have something besides this big international collaboration.
DeVorkin:
Mm-hmm [affirmative]. So you needed something that you had control over. So KEK wouldn't have helped, Tokuba and any of the national facilities, they wouldn't have worked for you. That's correct.
Koshiba:
First of all those accelerator experiments became too routine. In order to attract the attention of younger people I thought we needed something different.
DeVorkin:
Okay. And as you said, this is when you started thinking about Kamioka. Now —
Koshiba:
I wasn't specifically thinking of the Kamioka experiment, but I was feeling the need for some experiment in the country where I could use and train young graduate students and undergraduates too. And that was the time when I received a telephone call from Sugawara on the possibility of doing a proton decay experiment.
DeVorkin:
Sugawara was at KEK?
Koshiba:
Yes. He was the head of the theoretical division there.
DeVorkin:
Yes. And he asked you to think about how you could test the grand unified theory, the GUT. Okay. At that time, did you know about the IMB collaboration —?
Koshiba:
Not at that time. You see, that was, oh, I don't remember exactly, it was something like December of 1978. I didn't know about the existence of the IMB project at that time, but when I received the telephone call from Sugawara I immediately remembered the chat with Occhialini on the use of a deep underground lake in shielding the photomultiplier pointing downward.
DeVorkin:
You didn't talk about that in the interview; you talked about that last night. Maybe it would be good for you to re-cover that now.
Koshiba:
I see. Well, I will make it short.
DeVorkin:
No, give me the whole thing.
Koshiba:
Well, as I said, when Marcel Schein died, the University of Chicago asked Professor Occhialini to be an advisor, and he recommended me as the successor of Marcel Schein for the whole project. He used to come to my place every month, staying several days, and we used to chat over beers on almost everything. And since we were storing the big stack in a salt mine cave near Cleveland —
DeVorkin:
This was a salt mine you knew about, or —?
Koshiba:
We investigated all the possibilities near Chicago.
DeVorkin:
Yes. This was how to keep the stack unexposed.
Koshiba:
Shielded against cosmic rays.


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