A story from
I came to Stanford in summer 1973 as the Technical Director for the first beam line of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Project (SSRP). This
beam line began research in March, 1974 as a parasitic, secondary program to exploit the synchrotron radiation produced during e+/e- colliding
beam operation for high energy physics experiments on the SPEAR storage ring at SLAC. SPEAR had two colliding beam interaction regions, each
equipped with a detector.
The West interaction region was occupied by the Mark I detector used by a team led by Burt Richter, who also led the
team which designed and built SPEAR. The East interaction region was open to others to propose and build detectors for use there. Since these
two teams had different scientific objectives they often had different preferences about the SPEAR stored beam energy. To work out these
differences and to determine the SPEAR energy and schedule, Panofsky asked Sid Drell to meet with spokespersons for the two high energy physics
SSRP strongly preferred the highest energy since this produced the most synchrotron radiation, but, as parasites, SSRP had
no say in this. However, as a courtesy, Sid invited a spokesperson for SSRP to attend these meetings, essentially as an observer. Because
SPEAR was at the frontier of high energy physics, there was great excitement and anticipation of important results, and the two experimental
groups were each very eager to have SPEAR operate at energies that were optimal for their experiments.
As the spokesperson for SSRP I had an
opportunity to observe Sid navigating between the often conflicting demands, and sometimes loud voices, of the two high energy physics
experimental groups. On rare occasions, when there was no clear solution to the conflicting demands of these two groups, Sid would favor the
higher energy preferred by SSRP. I sometimes think that Sid may have had insight to the important results that would come from photon science
at SLAC over the next decades at SSRP, and the growth of photon science when SSRP became a laboratory (SSRL) rather than a project, followed by
the rebuilding of SPEAR as a dedicated light source and the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), which used the SLAC linac to drive the world's
first x-ray free-electron laser.