Developing creativity in science, engineering and medicine


Date Thursday November 13th 2008
Time 4:00-5:00pm
Venue George E. Pake Auditorium, PARC

PARC Forum

I will discuss the following topics:

  • The special nature of Creativity in Science, Engineering, and Medicine
  • Necessary Conditions for Creativity
  • How to Develop a Good Idea
  • Colleagues
  • The Art of Obsession in Science, Engineering, and Medicine
  • The Technology You Use Now
  • Future Technology


I work as Professor Emeritus in experimental physics and astrophysics, as an engineer and as a science educator at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology of Stanford University.

I was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1927. My parents were immigrants from Poland. I took a high school physics course and at graduation received the Physics Medal. But neither I nor my family knew if one could "make a living" in physics. Therefore I decided to become an engineer. In 1942 I began to study chemical engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, now Polytechnic University.

My studies at the Polytechnic Institute were interrupted by service during and after World War II. After this service I returned to the Polytechnic Institute, receiving a Bachelor in Chemical Engineering degree in 1948. I then went to work for the General Electric Co.

In 1950 I decided to go into physics and went to Columbia University, receiving a physics Ph. D. in 1955. From 1955 to 1963 I did research and taught at the University of Michigan. Since 1963 I have been at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.

My major research is in experimental elementary particle physics using both accelerators and small experiments. I also work in astronomy on the design of a large, earth based telescope. My other research interests are optics, optical devices, aerosol related technology, and creativity in science and engineering. I also work in the application to industrial processes and products of these physics technologies.

Honors include: the 1995 Nobel Prize in Physics, the 1982 Wolf Prize in Physics, membership in the U. S. National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and honorary degrees from Polytechnic University and the University of Chicago. My Nobel Prize was in recognition of my discovery of the tau lepton, the heaviest known member of the electron-muon-tau sequence of charged leptons. This work also led to the discovery of the third generation of elementary particles.

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