March 30, 1999


Brookhaven Lab Scientist Wins Robert R. Wilson Prize

UPTON, NY ­ The American Physical Society (APS) has named Robert Palmer, a scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, the winner of the 1999 Robert R. Wilson Prize. He will receive a citation certificate and $5,000 at a ceremony being held tonight in New York.

The Robert R. Wilson Prize was established in 1986 and is given annually by the APS to recognize outstanding scientific achievement in the physics of particle accelerators.

Dr. Palmer's citation reads: "For his many diverse contributions and innovations in particle accelerator and detector technologies, including superconducting magnets, longitudinal stochastic cooling, bubble chambers and neutrino beam lines, crab crossing in lepton colliders, laser acceleration, and for recent leadership of the muon collider concept."

The prize is one of two APS awards given for work in particle physics. The other, the W.K.H. Panofsky Prize, is given for experimental work. Dr. Palmer is the first person to have won both awards. In 1993, Dr. Palmer, former Brookhaven director Nicholas Samios and Ralph Shutt shared the W.K.H. Panofsky Prize for their 1964 discovery of the omega-minus particle. The discovery validated the quark model of elementary particles.

"It's extremely satisfying to me that I have received both of the APS particle physics awards," said Dr. Palmer. "I'm happy to have been able to make contributions to both particle accelerator and experimental particle physics."

One of the Laboratory's most respected physicists, Dr. Palmer has taken part in several major discoveries. Along with the omega-minus particle work, Dr. Palmer was also involved with the discovery of neutral currents at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory, in the early 1970s; the charmed baryon, at Brookhaven in 1975; and direct single photons, at CERN in 1978. The discovery of direct single photons was the first indirect proof of the existence of gluons.

His interest in accelerator physics started with his invention of the inverse free electron laser in 1972. In 1973, Dr. Palmer proposed a method of correcting the momentum spread of particles as they move around an accelerator. Known as longitudinal stochastic cooling, the process is now used at CERN and is known there as the "Palmer Method." In 1980, Dr. Palmer invented the grating laser accelerator.

From 1980 to 1983, Dr. Palmer and his colleagues developed magnets for the Colliding Beam Accelerator (CBA) Project and then for the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC). The success of many of today's superconducting accelerator magnets, including those at CERN and the planned Large Hadron Collider, can be traced to ideas he first proposed and tested at Brookhaven.

Since 1994, much of Dr. Palmer's work has focused on the future of lepton colliders: linear electron-positron colliders and now muon colliders. Muon colliders would allow scientists to do much of the same physics as in a linear collider, but in much smaller rings as opposed to very long linear accelerators. Since 1997, he has served as spokesman and member of the executive board of the Muon Collider Collaboration, which now includes more than 100 members from 27 institutions. The group is considering the possibility of constructing a demonstration machine at a yet-to-be-determined site.

Born in Harrow, England, Robert Palmer did both his undergraduate and graduate work at the Imperial College in London. After earning his Ph.D. in physics in 1959, he came to Brookhaven's Physics Department in 1960, joining the Bubble Chamber Group led by Ralph Shutt. Dr. Palmer served as BNL's Associate Director for High Energy Physics Research from 1983-86, and, following a one-year sabbatical from the Laboratory, was named head of Brookhaven's Center for Accelerator Physics upon his return in 1987. He resumed the appointment in 1991 after a one-year leave of absence at the SSC.

In addition to his APS awards, Dr. Palmer received a Brookhaven National Laboratory Research and Development Award in 1997 for his many contributions to research and development of accelerators and detectors.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory creates and operates major facilities available to university, industrial and government personnel for basic and applied research in the physical, biomedical and environmental sciences, and in selected energy technologies. The Laboratory is operated by Brookhaven Science Associates, a not-for -profit research management company, under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.
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NOTE TO LOCAL EDITORS: Robert Palmer is a resident of Shoreham, NY.