Luis Alvarez, the Hydrogen Bubble Chamber,
Tritium, and Dinosaurs
'Luis W. Alvarez was an adventurer physicist. The two terms may seem an odd combination until one considers Alvarez's career. A member of the National Inventor's Hall of Fame, Alvarez developed the proton linear accelerator, patented three types of radar still used today, designed an instrument that for 15 years served as the universal standard of length, co-discovered the hydrogen isotope tritium, searched for hidden chambers in an Egyptian pyramid, analyzed the Zapruder film documenting John F. Kennedy's assassination, and won the 1968 Nobel Prize in physics. And that's just the short list. ...
Alvarez improved upon [Donald] Glaser's instrument and used it to discover a large number of resonance states, subatomic particles that can't be directly detected because they live for so short a time. ... [U]se of [the] hydrogen bubble chamber and data analysis equipment enabled researchers to deduce the existence of the resonance states. In 1968, Alvarez won the Nobel Prize in Physics "for his decisive contributions to elementary particle physics."1
Additional information about Luis Alvarez and his research is available in documents and on the Web.
Berkeley Proton Linear Accelerator, DOE Technical Report , October 1953
High‑energy Physics with Hydrogen Bubble Chambers, DOE Technical Report , March 1958
LRL 25‑inch Bubble Chamber, DOE Technical Report , July 1964
Early Days of Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, DOE Technical Report , May 1981
The Hydrogen Bubble Chamber and the Strange Resonances, DOE Technical Report , June 1985History of Proton Linear Accelerators, DOE Technical Report , January 1987
Additional Web Pages:
People and Discoveries: Luis Alvarez, A Science Odyssey, PBS
The Death of the Dinosaurs: 27 Years Later (LBNL Summer Lecture Series) (video)