Panofsky, Wolfgang

img_lrg/panofsky.jpg not found

© Peter Ginter, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

After working on the Manhattan Project during World War II, Wolfgang Panofsky took up a faculty position at the University of California, Berkeley. But in 1950, when the regents of California's university system required all employees to swear that they did not belong to the communist party, he resigned his post and moved to Stanford, a private university that required no loyalty oath. Panofsky then inspired the creation of the Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC). Once at Stanford, he faced another crisis of conscience. The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) wanted permission to use SLAC for classified military research "in the national interest." Backed by Stanford's president, Wallace Sterling, Panofsky refused. He continued to do so even when the AEC threatened to withhold $114 million in funding for the laboratory; in 1962, he won his case. Once started, SLAC produced research that led directly to three Nobel Prizes. (Unit: 1)