Roger Eugene Hill
The life, career, scientific and spiritual insights of a physicist plus a few excursions into Complexity Science and Art.
REH
--
With Louise. Tent Rocks,
New Mexico. Dec 2016.




















Curriculum Vitae - A Narrative

Synopsis

The story of my career will take us to some interesting places:
 
-particle accelerators around the world from Berkeley to CERN working on experiments using sub-nuclear particles to study the strong nuclear force and the nature of time;

- to an office tower on the outskirts of Paris and a life of 3-piece suits and 3-hour business lunches, corporate jets, stockholder meetings, presentations to the IAEA and UNESCO, trying to keep a group of seasoned engineers on good scientific ground as we carried out feasibility, environmental and economic impact studies of some of the boldest, most ambitious and, ultimately undoable projects ever conceived;

-to a mountain in New Mexico recovering from burn-out and the wounds of divorce among a small community of people that you might, though we didn’t, describe as hippies- embracing nature, the closeness of my daughter as she began her family, the joy of spending years next door to my first granddaughter while pursuing a deep interest in mystical and spiritual matters that began when I was just a boy (and tinkering with programming micro-processors on the side);

-back to CERN to work briefly on an experiment with anti-matter and then on to the Meson Physics Facility at Los Alamos (LAMPF) to work on an experiment trying to measure the mass of the neutrino;

-to working as a staff member in the Physics Division behind the fence of secrecy at the Los Alamos National Laboratory on arms control treaty verification issues;

- to the Nevada Test Site to test the technology for verifying the Threshold Test Ban Treaty (CORRTEX);

-to the US Mission in Geneva as a member of the US delegation to negotiate the protocols for verifying that treaty with our Soviet scientific counterparts;

-to the Soviet Test Site in Kazakhstan to verify the yield (power) of an underground Soviet nuclear test and standing only a couple of kilometers away from that explosion watching the earth rise to blot out the sky from the forces unleashed thousands of feet below the surface;

-to negotiating tables in Geneva, Washington and Moscow working out with the Soviets the details for verifying specific tests while the Berlin wall was crumbling and Yeltsin was standing on the tank at the Duma;

-to the Russian nuclear test site on the arctic island of Novaya Zemlya, walking through icy tunnels, toasting vodka in a birch lined sauna with Russian naval officers who had never before met an American and who once commanded nuclear submarines  (we talked of our families);

-back to physics, to learn about ultra cold neutrons and use computer simulations to design a source of these particles for use at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (an experiment in fundamental physics is currently under way using this source);

-leading a team at Los Alamos working to provide data to verify that computer simulations are a reasonable alternative to underground nuclear testing.


Beginnings

The seeds of my career as a physicist were planted when I was 11 years old and living on a farm in central Oregon. It was 1947 and my father took me to Eugene to see a movie called the "The Beginning or the End?". It was filmed in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and was about the development of
  me
the atomic bomb. Among the many dramatic scenes of the film, was the first moments of operation (bringing to criticality) of the world's first nuclear reactor at Stagg Field at the University of Chicago on December 2, 1942, under the direction of Enrico Fermi. The film depicted a couple of young physicists standing on top of the graphite and uranium pile with buckets of cadmium sulfate that they were supposed to dump into the pile to help shut it down in case of an emergency. I learned later that one of them was H.L. (Herb) Anderson. The film was a kind of challenge to the youth of the world by saying that our father's generation had seen the beginning of the Atomic Age but it was going to be up to us to determine how it was going to end. This challenge was intensified by President Eisenhower's famous Atoms for Peace speech to the U.N. in December, 1953, where he pledged the United States "to find the way by which the miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life." These challenges inspired my youthful idealism and have in fact shaped several important segments of my career.
  me

Eleven years after watching the movie I was working as a Bachelor's Degree level physicist for the General Electric Company in its Atomic Power Division at the Vallecitos Atomic Laboratory in California and I had been licensed by the US Atomic Energy Commission to operate two different nuclear reactors. Five years after that (1963), I was hired by Herb Anderson into my first post-doctoral position at the Enrico Fermi Institute of the University of Chicago. My office was across the street from Stagg Field. My doctoral research had been done at UC Berkeley under the tutelage of two of Fermi's students; Emilio Segrè and Owen Chamberlain, who had received the Nobel prize in 1959 for the discovery of the anti-proton.

Was seeing this movie just a random event in my life? Maybe. Or, maybe it was one of those little inspirational nudges that come to help you find or stay on your path. Maybe, it just depends on how you look at it. But the only other movie my Dad ever took me to see was "Death of a Salesman" in 1952.

To be continued.
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