Session X2: Working with Luis Alvarez (1911-1988)

10:45 AM–12:33 PM, Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Room: Grand BCD

Sponsoring Unit: FHP
Chair: Stanley Wojcicki, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Abstract ID: BAPS.2011.APR.X2.1

Abstract: X2.00001 : Working with and Learning from Luis Alvarez

10:45 AM–11:21 AM

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  Richard Muller
    (University of California, Berkeley)

I joined the ``Alvarez Group'' in 1965 and became the last graduate student of Luis Alvarez. I was particularly interested in how he did it - how he found new projects, decided on new approaches, and rejected ideas that were going nowhere. I soon found myself in a unique position - the person that he would present his craziest ideas to. He always wanted me to prove him wrong - so that he wouldn't waste time on things destined to fail, and could instead invent something new to do. I'll talk about his abandoned ideas, his method for finding and deciding on projects, and how I was convinced he was utterly wasting his time on a project to work with his son Walter to figure out what killed the dinosaurs.

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