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The History of High Energy Nuclear and Particle Physics at the University of Rochester

Our tradition in research at the energy frontier dates back to the mid 1930s, when Lee DuBridge and Sidney Barnes built one of the world's first cyclotrons. In the 1940s and 1950s, this line of research continued using both cosmic rays and the "large" 130-inch Rochester Cyclotron, then a very powerful machine that made possible some of the first investigations of pi mesons. Studies of the nucleus during this period were conducted initially on the first cyclotron, eventually rebuilt by Harry Fulbright, and later on a tandem Van de Graaff. In the realm of theoretical physics, the V-A theory of the Weak Interactions of Marshak and Sudarshan, Regge's ideas about a continuous angular-momentum variable, and the Gell-Mann--Okubo mass formula of SU(3) were all discovered here. The "Higgs" mechanism for spontaneous symmetry breaking was developed at by Rochester faculty member Hagen in collaboration with Guralnik, and Kibble. Among the many important breakthroughs in experimental physics during this period, we cite the first evidence for polarization in nucleon scattering, the measurement of the spin of the charged pion, and the earliest work on sonic and spark chambers.

The initiation of the "Rochester Conferences" by Robert Marshak in the early 1950s, and his commitment to international cooperation in science, made the Rochester campus an early and vital focal point for nuclear and particle physics. Over the years, many outstanding graduate students in nuclear and particle physics have been attracted to Rochester. Besides Okubo, Regge and Sudarshan, exceptionally successful Rochester graduates in these fields include Allan Bromley, Ernest Courant, Robert Dicke, Masatoshi Koshiba, Albert Messiah and Bunji Sakita.

Today, our research in high energy physics is no longer conducted using accelerators located on campus, but rather at national and international accelerator facilities, including Fermilab near Chicago, Brookhaven Laboratory on Long Island, Wilson Laboratory in Ithaca, SLAC in Palo Alto, the Large Underground Laboratory at the Homestake Mine,  CERN in Switzerland, BES in China, and JPARC in Japan. Rochester theoretical physicists have also developed thriving collaborations on all continents.

Go to the High Energy Physics page.