A story from Stephen Rock
I was a visiting physicist at SLAC since 1976 working on End Station A experiments. I first met Pief at
a meeting in his office when he was resolving competing claims for beam time between an experiment I was
involved in and another. I was very impressed with his probing questions, including determining if there were enough people to do the experiments (he decided in my
favor). In about 2000 I invited Pief to be one of the first speakers for the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center's new TV series 'Other Voices'. (First Tuesday of
every month at 7PM on Community Access TV in Palo Alto Area.) I had just heard Pief give a a talk at SLAC about the problems of dismantling Nuclear and Chemical
Weapons. Even thought the program is primarily for political presentations, I thought Pief could provide a scientific education and basic information for the mostly
non-technical audience. He brought along the usual pile of slides that are typically used during SLAC talks. This was a technical challenge for the volunteer TV
crew who were used to focusing on a single speaker. It went very well. Pief said he was nervous before the presentation, which surprised me since I assumed he was
very experienced in public appearances. He was also very interested in knowing how many people watched the program (we did not know).
This summer (2007)I was director of the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship program at SLAC. I thought it would be good for the students to hear about how
physicists can apply their skills to public science issues. I asked Pief if he would give them a talk on Arms Control. Despite bad health, he wanted to give the talk.
I was told that it was very important to him to reach the younger generation and convince them to carry on his important work. He said if only one student was
convinced, it would be worthwhile. There were many questions and Pief offered to have a continuation in his office the next week. About 7 students came for a
wide-ranging discussion. The students then took the initiative and arranged another meeting with Pief the next week. I was very impressed that despite serious health
problems, he devoted so much of his limited time and energy to pass on the message that physicists must take an active role to help humanity survive and prosper.
- Stephen Rock