A story from Peter Rowson
Following the first year of SLC operation with a polarized electron beam in 1992, our analysis team from the SLD experiment had made a measurement of the left-right asymmetry in Z production (ALR). However, a troubling discrepancy in the overall sign of this asymmetry (expected to be positive) appeared to be arising from somewhere - theoretical calculations or experimental procedures - and we labored for some time to figure out the problem. One possibility arose from the sign conventions and easily confused calculations sensitive to the handedness of circularly polarized light, either right- or left-handed. So we checked a number of text books and indeed found disagreement. The famous E&M textbook "Panofsky and Phillips" differed from the equally famous tome, "Landua and Lifshitz". So I wandered over to Pief's office for the first time, nervously introduced myself (at the time a young Asst. Prof.), and wondered if he might spare a minute to have a look at the problem. He graciously spent over 30 minutes of his time listening attentively to the issue, then going over the calculation he made decades earlier - good naturally eager to help on this rather mundane problem. And sure enough - he found that Landau and Lifshitz had a sign error. It turned out that the problem, soon solved, was due to a different incorrect sign assumption (clarified for us, by the way, by Sid Drell), and the integrity of the ALR measurement was established - but I'll always remember my few precious minutes with the Master, his warmth and interest and concern - my only significant time alone with Pief.
- Peter Rowson