Yale Hosts Gregory Breit Centennial Symposium October 29-30, 1999

The Yale University Department of Physics will host the Gregory Breit Centennial Symposium from Friday, Oct. 29 through Saturday, Oct. 30, 1999 on the Yale campus.

The schedule and locations are:

Friday, Oct. 29, at Sloane Physics Laboratory, 217 Prospect Street, Room 59, The Legacy of Gregory Breit.

* 9:30 a.m., Welcome, President Richard C. Levin, Yale University; Introductory Remarks about Gregory Breit, Vernon W. Hughes, Yale University; Quantum Electrodynamics and the Lamb Shift in Muonic Hydrogen, Toichiro Kinoshita, Cornell University,

* 11:15 a.m., Measurement of the Breit Interaction by Laser Spectroscopy, Massimo Inguscio, University of Florence, Italy.

* 1:30 p.m., Isotope Shifts, Ernst W. Otten, University of Mainz, Germany; The Fermion-Fermion Interaction, Gerald K. Brown, State University of New York, Stony Brook; Nuclear Collisions: The Ultra Relativistic Frontier, Lawrence D. McLerran, Brookhaven National Laboratory.

* 4:15 p.m., The Discovery of Supersymmetry in Nuclei, Francesco Iachello, successor to Gregory Breit in the chair of theoretical nuclear physics at Yale University; One Hundred Years of the Quantum: The Glory and the Shame, John A. Wheeler, Princeton University.

* 6:30 p.m., Symposium Banquet, The New Haven Lawn Club; Presiding, D. Allan Bromley, Yale University; On Gregory Breit, McAllister Hull, University of New Mexico; Remarks from a Family Member, Ralph W. G. Wyckoff.

Saturday, Oct. 30, at Luce Hall, 34 Hillhouse Avenue, Room 101, Frontiers of Nuclear Physics.

* 9:00 a.m., Color, Spin and Flavor Forces in Quantum Chromodynamics, Robert L. Jaffev, Massachusetts Institute of technology.

* 10:15 a.m., Nuclear Structure with Stable and Radioactive Beams, Richard F. Casten, Yale University; Equation of State of Nuclear Matter, C. Konrad Gelbke, Michigan State University.

* 1:30 p.m., Electric Dipole Moments as a Test of Time Reversal Symmetry, Norman F. Ramsey, Harvard University; Nuclear Astrophysics, Claus Rolfs, University of Bochum, Germany.

* 3:30 p.m., Physics with Relativistic Heavy Ions, John W. Harris, Yale University.

* 4:15 p.m., End of symposium.

NOTES ON GREGORY BREIT: Gregory Breit, born in Russia on July 14, 1899, was a physicist who worked on the early development of nuclear weapons and who calculated whether a chain reaction might set off a global explosion. He reported that theoretical calculations made it unlikely that a “runaway super” could set off a chain reaction but suggested tests with a new cyclotron at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee that eventually supported his theory.

He came to the U.S. when he was 15 and earned his doctorate from Johns Hopkins in 1920. He was professor of physics at Yale from 1947 to 1968. Prior to that, he worked at New York University from 1929 to 1934 and University of Wisconsin from 1934 to 1947. He later went on to the State University of New York at Buffalo from 1968 to 1973.

In 1968, Breit received the national Medal of Science from President Johnson for his contributions to the first atom smashers and ordnance development. In 1964, he received the Franklin Medal for his work in nuclear physics.

After experiments in 1939 proved the concept of nuclear fission and validated its military potential, Breit suggested the voluntary censorship of the publication of uranium studies adhered to by scientists in World War II and participated in discussions that led President Franklin Roosevelt to declare an all-out press to produce atomic bombs in November 1941.

Breit made major contributions to the field of atomic and nuclear physics. He is remembered for introducing what is now known as the Breit interaction in atomic physics, and the Breit-Wigner formula in nuclear physics, and for contributing to the understanding of the nucleon-nucleon interaction in nuclear physics.

Breit died at the age of 82 on Sept. 13, 1981 in Salem, Ore.

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