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 VOL. 23, NO. 23MAY 20, 1998 


Lee to Head Brookhaven Center


 BY BOB NELSON

T.D. Lee, University Professor at Columbia and Nobel Prize laureate in physics, has been named to head the new RIKEN BNL Research Center at Brookhaven National Laboratories on Long Island..

  The facility was established last fall with a $2 million grant from the Institute for Physical and Chemical Research, near Tokyo, a government-funded, multidisciplinary research organization known by its Japanese acronym, RIKEN.

  The funding, expected to grow in future years, will allow scientists to study both quantum chromodynamics, the study of quarks and gluons, and spin physics at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, a particle accelerator at Brookhaven that is to be completed in 1999.

  The collider will accelerate ions of such heavy elements as gold to speeds near that of light, then smash them together to recreate conditions that existed shortly after the Big Bang.

  The information could ultimately provide concepts linking Einstein’s relativity to quantum mechanics.

  “The progress of physics depends on young physicists opening up new frontiers,” said Lee, who shared the Nobel Prize in 1957. “The RIKEN BNL Research Center will be dedicated to the nurturing of a new generation of scientists who can meet the challenge that will be created by the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider.”

  Each of the elementary particles found in nature posses a unique value of spin, as well as values of mass and electric charge.

  Spin is the intrinsic angular momentum of elementary particles and nuclei. When spins are aligned in the same direction, the beam of particles is considered spin-polarized.

  Scientists at Brookhaven hope to further understand this property of matter by colliding spin-polarized beams of matter.

  For example, the subunits of protons and neutrons, called quarks and gluons, possess spin values of 1/2 and 1 respectively, and organize themselves into nucleons, each with a total spin value of 1/2, in a way still not clearly understood.

  A group of physics faculty from Columbia, led by Norman Christ and Robert Mawhinney, is constructing the 600-gigaflop supercomputer to be used at the new center to simulate heavy ion collisions and their results (see story at left).

  That machine is due to be completed in May and, run in tandem with Columbia’s own 400-gigaflop computer, will provide 1.0 teraflops of computing power.






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