Ernest Malamud

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Biography written in 1996
Ernest Malamud received his undergraduate degree in physics at the University of California at Berkeley, and then did his graduate work at Cornell University, receiving his Ph.D. in 1959. At Cornell he participated in the design and construction of a 1 GeV electron synchrotron, the first in the world to use the principle of strong focussing. After teaching for a few years at the Universities of Lausanne (Switzerland), Arizona, and California (Los Angeles), he joined the staff of the newly established Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in 1968. He has been at Fermilab continuously since then except during part of 1982 when he worked at the Exploratorium in San Fransico, and in 1985-86 when he was an invited professor at the University at Lausanne.

At Fermilab Malamud works both on accelerators and high-energy physics experiments. He is author or co-author of approximately 100 publications. He was one of the leaders during the design, construction and commissioning of the Fermilab Main Ring, which began operation in 1972 at 200 GeV to become the world's highest energy proton synchrotron. In 1983 he participated in the commissioning of the 800 GeV Tevatron and during 1983-85 was deeply involved in the installation, controls coordination and commissioning of the antiproton source. From 1987 to 1990 he coordinated work to modify the Tevatron to raise its luminosity for colliding beam experiments. Since 1990 his primary responsibility has been as Executive Director of SciTech, a new hands-on science center in nearby Aurora.

Introductory Comments: Accelerators

The term "atom smasher" conjures up fantastic images: a giant hammer; a dimly lit laboratory where white-coated scientists hover over complicated coils of wires and artificial lightning cascades between large polished domes; a mysterious complex of underground tunnels; visions from the movie "Star Wars."

Particle accelerators can come in as mundane and unglamorous forms as the electron "gun" in your TV set, as the portable 50 kilovolt X-ray machine carried by a medic on the battlefield or as a Van de Graff generator whose beam of 1.5 million volt electrons sterilizes 150,000 gallons of sewage per day for use as fertilizer. On the other hand with present day technology, it is possible to build a huge ring proton accelerator, of about ten trillion (TeV) volts energy, and use the intense beam of energetic neutrinos it can generate to "X-ray" the earth's core.

"Smashing" atoms (ionization) requires very little energy. Particle accelerators are machines that accelerate charged particles to high energies, generally high enough (millions of volts) to "smash" or study the nuclei of atoms. As energies surpass a few billion volts (GeV) accelerators become probes of the elementary constituents of matter, quarks and leptons. Beams from the accelerator interact with targets, energy is converted into mass, and new particles can be created and studied. By creating collisions between beams of particles travelling in opposite directions, extremely high energies corresponding to very high temperatures in the collision are attained. The study of matter in these extreme conditions can be related to the behavior of the universe in the earliest instant after its creation.

Accelerators fit naturally into the standard first (high school) course in physics. Accelerators can be used as a vehicle for illustrating classical concepts in electricity and magnetism and the motion of charged particles in electromagnetic fields. The simple proportionality between radius of curvature, momentum (in appropriate atomic units), and magnetic field can be illustrated by discussing the size of the Fermilab collider and current suggestions to raise its energy. Learning an appreciation for orders of magnitude can be done with fun examples such as comparing the kinetic energy of a fly with that of a proton at Fermilab, by comparing the energy of one nucleon in the fly's body with one quark in the high-energy proton beam, by working through the size and cost of a 20 TeV flashlight cell linear accelerator and then comparing that cost with the cost of the future large hadron collider at CERN. The analogy between the focussing of charged-particle beams with quadrupoles and the focussing of light with optical lenses can be used to enhance understanding of both phenomena.

There now exist two antimatter "bottles," one at Fermilab and one at CERN, where a combination of accelerator technologies are used to create and store microscopic quantities of antiprotons. The antiprotons are used in a variety of "frontier" experiments in particle physics. By introducing some of this material to the high school student, one will inevitably touch on the large team sociology of modern scientific research. Students are generally quite interested in this aspect.