Leon Lidofsky

CHIEN-SHIUNG WU 29 May 1912-16 February 1997

Leon Lidofsky
Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society
Mar 1 2001

In Dr. Wu’s opinion, the existing measurements were of such poor quality that they could not permit any conclusion to be reached. But in her philosophy, it wasn’t enough that you simply say that someone else’s work was wrong. Rather, it was necessary for you to identify any faults in its techniques or design, then show how those would have led to errors. Finally, and most important, it was up to you to develop ways to do it right, and then, to do it! And she did!

As the Pupin Laboratories were being brought back to their prewar condition, Dr. Wu had discovered an iron-free solenoidal beta-spectrometer that had been placed in storage to make space for the wartime research. She recognized the potential advantages it could offer. Together with several of her graduate students, she brought the solenoidal spectrometer back to operating condition and modified its design to optimize its transmission and to permit the use of large-area, hence thinner, sources.

In our lives, each of us encounters challenges and opportunities, but not all of us can recognize them, can integrate them in the context of our individual experiences and thought, and can thus act on them to our own advantage. In Chien-Shiung Wu’s life, there were many milestones of varying significance, in which she made choices. Because of her talents and the perspective she brought to bear on those occasions, she accomplished many things that have led to the honors she received and deserved.

The Beta-Spectrum of He6

C. S. Wu, B. M. Rustad, V. Perez-Mendez, and L. Lidofsky
Physical Review
Aug 5 1952

Used Columbia spectrometer to calculate revised comparative lifetime of He6


The end point together with tg=0.823 yields the ft value of He' of 815~70 sec.' Moszkowski4 estimated the relative contribution of P and G —T interactions by equating ft M ' for the H3—He3 and He6—Li6 transitions. Using the old He6 "ft"value he obtained E=Cg'/CG'=0. 11~0.45, which leads to the conclusion of the insignificant role of the F interaction in beta-decay.

If one repeats the calculation of Moszkowski using the new ft values for He6 one obtains K&1.4&0.7 which completely alters the picture. The recent finding of the C' —8"* and 0'4 —N'4* transitions which should be allowed and favored 0—0 transitions, demonstrates that the presence of the Fermi interaction in the beta-process is definitely necessary.

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