Stan encountered Wu at the first big Mössbauer meeting at Urbana in July 1960

Stan encountered Wu at the first big Mössbauer meeting at Urbana in July 1960

As we have seen, amid the fallout from his beta-decay work, Stan had shifted his attention to the newly emerging field of recoilless nuclear resonance, popularly known after its discoverer as the Mössbauer effect. 

Working at the Westinghouse Nucleonics Lab in East Pittsburgh, Pa., Stan had published several Mössbauer studies together with collaborators including K. H. (Kwan) Sun, his boss at Westinghouse.

In the spring of 1960, he was invited to an international conference of Mössbauer researchers, to be held in July in Urbana, Ill., where some of the best Mössbauer work was going on at the University of Illinois.

The organizers were Hans Frauenfelder, the University of Illinois physicist who had played a role in the Rustad-Ruby affair, and Max Swerdlow, a defense technology administrator who brought sponsorship from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, later a part of DARPA.

Everybody who was anybody in the Mössbauer world was there, starting with Rudolf Mössbauer himself. Many of Stan's future Argonne colleagues (Dunlop, Perlow, Preston, Hanna, Holland) were among the presenters, reflecting the lab's prominent place in the field as well as its proximity to the meeting site, at the University of Illinois' Allerton House conference facility. 

A conference report published in the November 1960 issue of Physics Today had all the details. 

The session chairs included several luminaries with whom Stan had connections. Harry Lipkin from the Weizmann Institute chaired the theoretical session. Stan later worked closely with Zvi, as he was called, both in Israel and at Argonne. The U.S.-born Israeli had been an organizer of the 1957 Rehovot conference where Rustad-Ruby was much discussed. 

Chien-Shiung Wu, Stan's former thesis advisor who had driven the final nail in Rustad-Ruby, chaired a session on chemical shifts. I don't know for sure, but this could have been the first time Stan and Wu had met since the events of 1957-58. There is no record of their encounter, but one imagines that it may have been cordial and professional more than warm and collegial.

In all of Wu's later writings, she never called out Rustad or Ruby for any individual error in the design or interpretation of the experiment, instead calling attention to the difficulty of the measurement. However, I'm pretty sure Stan considered that she had thrown him under the bus.

He never said as much to his children, but I distinctly remember an occasion (on the front porch of our home on Green Valley Drive) when Helga spoke sarcastically to Stan about "the Dragon Lady." That memory could have been immediately before or after this conference in the summer of 1960.

Stan spoke in a session on resonance experiments and ultrasonics, chaired by Anatole Abragam, later a discover of nuclear magnetic resonance. Stan described his experiment with Bolef on acoustically modulated gamma rays from iron-57. 

The conference was clearly a formative experience for Stan. It may have been when he first forged a relationship with Harry Lipkin that later resulted in his invitation to Weizmann. It could also have been when he connected with the Mössbauer team at Argonne, which he would also join a couple of years later. 

As far as running into Wu at this otherwise providential two-day conference, I don't think either one of them seriously tried to made amends.