Luis Alvarez (1911-1988) was one of the greatest experimental physicists of the 20th century. His scientific discoveries and those of his students and colleagues spanned topics from cosmic rays, nuclear physics, radar, particle accelerators and detectors, large-scale data analysis, and new particles, to astrophysics and studies of the Universe at large. The discoveries of new particles (which earned him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1968) provided the first evidence for the SU(3) symmetry that lead to the quark model, later incorporated in the standard model of elementary particle physics. Alvarez and his collaborators discovered new ways of doing things, inventing hardware, software and algorithms to dramatically extend our knowledge of the Universe. Students and colleagues were encouraged to embody such a style of innovation and discovery, and discoveries by Alvarez group members have been as extraordinary as his original work.
The inventive spirit permeated all of Alvarez's life. He asked original and important questions in far-flung fields in which he had had no previous experience, and found ways to answer those questions. He invented the first ground-control-approach radar system, he invented the first machine that could accurately measure eyeglass refractions, and developed a camera stabilized optics and other optical devices. He x-rayed an Egyptian pyramid and helped discover what killed the dinosaurs and most of life 65 million years ago (which has been cited as "on of the great discoveries in the modern history of geology and paleontology"). His example inspired his scientific heirs to make fundamental advances in various fields, including new approaches for building large-scale integrated circuits, improvements in energy conservation, and other inventions that have advanced aspects of modern society.
This symposium will not only review the accomplishments of Luis Alvarez, but provide insight on his extraordinary ability to innovate, accept great technical and professional risks, choose the important problems, and find and lead his associates to make unprecedented contributions in many areas of science and technology. The Symposium will show the way to the next generation of scientists by the example and experience of his students and colleagues.
All talks and materials will be saved on videotape. Two videos will be made professionally for education purposes.