A visiting professor of Physics will share the world's highest scientific honor, the Nobel Prize, for his recent work on anti-matter. Owen Chamberlain, Morris Loeb Visiting Professor of Physics, received official notification yesterday afternoon of his winning the $42,606 award with Emlio Segre, also a professor at the University of California.
"It is difficult to be anything but surprised," the tall, thin-haired professor commented at a news conference. "Needless to say, I am extremely pleased, and it still is not easy to believe I have really received this honor."
Chamberlain, by means of his work at California, proved the existence of the anti-proton, a sub-atomic particle with a charge opposite to a normal proton. Using California's huge particle accelerator, the 39-year-old scientist worked with Segre and developed new methods to prove the existence of the particle.
"The particle accelerator was a completely indispensable tool in our research," Chamberlain noted. Only one particle per 30,000 was an anti-proton, however, and the California scientists had to develop a complicated array of bending magnets, magnetic focusing lenses, and detectors to spot the rare particle.
Originally made in 1955, the discovery by Chamberlain and Segre proved the theory that all particles have anti-matter counterparts. When a particle of anti-matter collides with normal matter, a tremendous quantity of energy is released, primarily in the form of other subatomic particles.
"There is no direct practical application at the present time, however, for anti-matter," Chamberlain pointed out, "but the discovery will help us a great deal in understanding nuclear structure." Although no important discoveries have been made with the anti-proton in the last three years, he felt confident "important discoveries" would be made in the near future.
Chamberlain modestly disclaimed full credit for his work. "Dr. Segre and I received great assistance from other people at the California Bevatron. The prize is an honor for the whole laboratory."
After receiving his doctorate under Enrico Fermi at the University of Chicago in 1949, Chamberlain joined the California faculty, becoming an assistant professor in 1950 and full professor in 1958.