The Rustad-Ruby Experiment


From the Blog

December 10, 2012 - 17:45

By the time my train arrived at Oakland's Jack London station well past midnight, late due to delayed bus connections in Bakersfield, the main outlines of the story of the reversed experiment had become clear. But a big question loomed: Should this new information change our understanding of Stan's reasons for leaving the nest at Brookhaven and Columbia, as he did sometime in 1953 or '54, to work for industrial labs at IBM and Westinghouse?

The next day I spoke to Walter and Joanne to compare notes on the chronology. I was born on Long Island December 12, 1952. Stan submitted his paper with Rustad on December 31. Stan and Helga moved to Vestal near Binghamton when Stan went to work for IBM after that, some time before Joanne was born there in October 1954. Walter reminded me that they then returned to... more

December 8, 2012 - 17:16
We pick up with the Amtrak San Joaquin pulling north out of Fresno and me struggling to absorb the dense information in Allan Franklin's paper "Are the Laws of Physics Inevitable?" Fortunately Franklin avoids heavy mathematics in the paper and I am able to follow most of it—at least for a while. As he mentions names and concepts, I flip to Wikipedia in my iPad browser for quick refreshers. So here is the thread of Franklin's narrative with some added historical context.

Beta decay had been known and studied since Becquerel had discovered radioactivity in uranium in 1896. In 1934, still in Rome before emigrating to America, Fermi theorized that beta decay occurs when an atomic nucleus transitions from one element to another while simultaneously releasing a combination of electrons and... more

December 8, 2012 - 15:07
Allan Franklin is a physics historian and philosopher of science from the University of Colorado who specializes in the interdependency of theory and experiment in the advancement of scientific knowledge. It was his paper, "Are the Laws of Physics Inevitable?" (Perspectives in Physics, 2008), that I stumbled upon on my recent return trip from Los Angeles.

The excerpts were more than intriguing:

In 1953 Brice Rustad and Stanley Ruby carried out the most important of these angular correlation experiments on the β decay of He6

Although most of the evidence from β decay was consistent with a doublet VA [vector and axial] interaction, Rustad and Ruby's angular-correlation experiment on He6 provided seemingly conclusive... more

December 6, 2012 - 14:39

So far on this blog we have covered many aspects our family history: our father's family roots in the Russian Pale, the life of the illustrious Rabbi Yitzhak Elchanan Spektor, Jewish life in Harlem and the Bronx, the rise of the American liquor industry in the 1930s, our mother's exodus from Germany and flight to America, the implementation of economic Aryanization in occupied France in the 1940s, and much more. It has been amazing to learn in some depth about these historical periods and events and how our family members' lives, and ours, were shaped by them.

We will now turn our attention to another rich subject that shaped our family and our times, nuclear physics in the postwar period, courtesy of our father Stanley Ruby, who returned home from WWII at age 22 to finish his education and start a... more