I started physics graduate school at Harvard in the fall of 1973. I was one of Norman Ramsey's last graduate students and did my thesis work on an old molecular-beam magnetic-resonance machine (below). My project was on the spectroscopy of methane, silane, and germane.
Molecular beam lab 1978
The theory of the spectra required for my thesis was rather complex, and I wrote a long theoretical article on the subject, titled "Application of the Racah algebra of finite groups to the hyperfine structure of methane." [J. Mol. Spectrosc. 71, 193 (1978)]. One of my favorite equations from this paper is shown below.
An equation from my first publication
My coworkers on the molecular-beam experiments were Larry Cohen and John Martin. Bill Blumberg's thesis project under Dan Larson was the study of photodetachment of negative ions, using a Penning trap. I helped with the theoretical analysis of the experiments, and this was my introduction to the physics of ion traps, which have been a major part of my professional life ever since. Bob Jopson also worked on the Penning trap experiments. Steve Lipson did a thesis project on diamagnetic hyperfine shifts in rubidium.
Larry Cohen and John Martin, examining strip-chart recordings
Bill Blumberg by his Penning trap
Bob Jopson at the terminal of the Data General minicomputer
Steve Lipson and Dan Larson with a dye laser
Jamie Stuart's thesis project was on a measurement of the Stark shift of the hyperfine separation of hydrogen. For this, high voltages were required, and one night the power supply caught fire. Luckily, the fire was put out before it could spread.
Jamie Stuart inspecting the damage
When Dan Larson left Harvard to go to the University of Virginia, we made an odd-looking lamp as a going-away gift. The bulb was salvaged from his experiment to measure the spin-exchange shift of the hydrogen maser frequency.
Dan Larson with going-away gift made from a hydrogen maser bulb
I was active in Asian American student organizations at Harvard. When George Takei (Mr. Sulu of Star Trek) was in town, we invited him to talk to us. That's Sheridan Tatsuno on the right. Another time, we had a public showing of some home movies that Sheridan's father had clandestinely filmed from inside the Topaz, Utah Relocation Center during World War II.
George Takei, Sheridan Tatsuno, 1976
In February 1978, there was a blizzard. Traffic was stopped completely, so people were cross-country skiing through Harvard Square.
Skiing through Harvard Square, 1978
I finished my Ph.D. in early 1979 and left for a post-doctoral position in Boulder, Colorado.Next - Life after the Ph. D.
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