Histrorical Background

Instrumentation, methods, and computing, in experimental particle physics, has a long and distinguished history in Berkeley – from the invention of the circular particle accelerator, or “cyclotron”, by Ernest Orlando Lawrence (Nobel Prize 1939), to critical experimental contributions to the discovery of the Higgs Boson (Nobel Prize 2013). There have been many discoveries and inventions along the way, which started in nuclear and particle physics and expanded into many other disciplines. A condensed summary illustrating this branching out can be found here.

Some crucial events in experimental particle physics have been:

  • The discovery of the antiproton led by Emilio Segre and Owen Chamberlain (Nobel Prize 1959)
  • The invention by Donald Glaser (Nobel Prize 1960) of the bubble chamber, a device to directly image the interactions of elementary particles
  • The development of large liquid hydrogen bubble chambers and their application to the discovery of new particles (including pioneering use of computers for particle physics) led by Luis Alvarez (Nobel Prize 1968)
  • The invention development of the Time Projection Chamber (TPC), a device to electronically record the trajectories of elementary particles in a 3-dimensional volume, led by Dave Nygren starting in 1974 (Panofsky Prize 1988).
  • Critical experimental contributions to the discovery of the Top Quark in 1994
  • Critical experimental contributions the mapping of the quark mixing matrix (Nobel Prize 2008) and the phenomenon of CP violation in B meson decays, including the use of an Asymetric B-Factory (a type op particle accelerator) proposed by P.  Oddone (Panofsky Prize 2005).
  • Critical experimental contributions to the discovery of  the Higgs Boson (Nobel Prize 2013).
  • Critical roles in the Daya Bay experiment that made the first definitive measurement of a crucial parameter in the mixing between neutrino types, led by Kam-Biu Luk (Panofsky Prize 2014).