Robert Hofstadter (1962) - Recent Results on Nucleon Structure

Robert Hofstadter (1962)

Recent Results on Nucleon Structure

Robert Hofstadter (1962)

Recent Results on Nucleon Structure

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Of the two Nobel Laureates in Physics 1961, Robert Hofstadter and Rudolf Mössbauer, only Hofstadter appeared at the 1962 Lindau Meeting. Apparently, he did not regret that decision, because he came back and lectured another six times. The younger Mössbauer, of course, after his first meeting in 1965, eventually outdid that number by a large margin. Hofstadter starts by skipping the fundamental question “What is matter made of?” and instead refers to a previous lecture by Niels Bohr, who gave his last public lecture at the same Lindau Meeting. Hofstadter then comments that he is somewhat disappointed that the blackboard is so small. The reason becomes obvious when he spends about half-an-hour of his lecture at this small blackboard (with the fixed microphone rather far away). There he describes his Nobel Prize winning project of high-energy electron scattering of atomic nuclei, which helped to determine the size and magnetic properties of protons and neutrons (the results are shown on slides during the last twenty minutes). The project started at the High Energy Physics Laboratory at Stanford University around 1950. There he shared space with Wolfgang Panofsky, who constructed the world’s longest accelerator (about 3 km), the main instrument at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, which was organized in 1962. The accelerator became operational in 1966 and just a few years later, as a logical continuation of Hofstader’s work, the experimental discovery of the quark structure of protons and neutrons was made at this accelerator, again using electron scattering. For this work, Jerome Friedman, Henry Kendall and Richard Taylor eventually received the 1990 Nobel Prize in Physics. To follow Hofstadter’s lecture in detail, it is quite useful to refer to his Nobel lecture given in Stockholm just a half year before the Lindau Meeting.

Anders Bárány

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