Myron L Good

Myron L.(Bud) Good

In Memoriam
1923 - 1999


Myron L. Good, a pioneer in developing the underpinnings of modern particle physics and in forging new particle physics facilities, died February 26, 1999 at his home on Long Island New York of heart failure. Good, known almost universally as Bud, was emeritus professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, having led the experimental particle physics group there from his arrival at the fledging campus in 1967 until his retirement in 1992. His contributions to physics spanned an extraordinarily broad range.

Good was born on October 25, 1923 in Buffalo New York, and did his undergraduate work at the University of Buffalo and Cornell University in the years surrounding his service in the U.S. Army during World War II. He received his Ph.D. from Duke University in 1951 for his investigations of nuclear beta decay. He then worked as a Research Scientist in the Alvarez group at the then University of California Radiation Laboratory until 1959, during the period of many landmark observations using bubble chambers. In 1959 he joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin and in 1967 moved to Stony Brook to establish a new experimental group there.

Good's career was most remarkable for its exceptional breadth of focus. His insight into the nature of particle properties and interactions spanned the field. With L. Alvarez in Berkeley, he was one of the first to explore the catalysis of nuclear reactions by muons. When the peculiar properties of the neutral K mesons were first seen, with weak eigenstates K_1 and K_2 rotated from the strong interaction production states K0 and K0bar, he introduced the phenomenology of regeneration of K_1 by interactions of K_2 in matter or magnetic fields. This insight provided the key to the measurements of the K_1 - K_2 mass difference and the implied limits on CPT invariance and transitions proceeding through two units of strangeness change. He pointed out that the near equality of K_1 and K_2 mass implied that particles and antiparticles have the same mass independent of strangeness, verifying the equivalence principle in a new regime. With others, Good made the discovery of the first strange particle baryon resonance, the Y^*(1385). His pioneering work in establishing the Delta I = 1/2 rule in weak hyperon decays became a lifelong tantalizing puzzle; he developed novel interpretations of the underlying physical cause, and at the time of his death was continuing his quest for understanding of this phenomenon.

With W. Walker at Wisconsin, Good introduced the idea of diffraction dissociation and worked out the kinematic properties of this process by which high energy beam particle waves can diffract into states of the same quantum numbers, but different final particle composition. He suggested new methods for discovering the W boson at Argonne and Brookhaven using decay muons produced by proton collisions in a massive target, a technique later used in many experiments.

Bud's contributions to experimental and accelerator techniques were numerous. With P. Eberhard and H. Ticho, he developed improved electrostatic separators to provide the enriched beams of K mesons used for many strange particle discoveries at Berkeley in the 1960's. In one of his most innovative flights of fancy, he invented a scheme for a high energy collider overcoming early worries about current ramping in superconducting magnets. He suggested fixing the field strength but counter-rotating alternate magnets around the beam axis. The resulting variable guide field could contain the increasing particle energy and subtle phase shifts and provided the necessary focussing properties. Though wildly impractical, this notion illustrated his imaginative approach superbly.

At Stony Brook, Good initiated a program of experiments at the Brookhaven AGS studying two body scattering reactions with quantum number exchanges. The measurements of the reaction pi p --> K Sigma/Y^* and pbar p --> nbar n both gave advances in the understanding of the character of exchange forces in fundamental interactions. After the observation of anomalous production of leptons at large momentum transfer in hadron collisions at CERN and Fermilab in the 1970's, Bud saw an opportunity to clarify the origin by making similar measurements at the lower energy of the AGS. An innovative experiment was mounted quickly leading to the observation that some anomalous excess did indeed remain at energies below the newly discovered charm threshold. With the opening of the Fermilab accelerator, Good became involved in the study of inclusive two particle final states in proton collisions on a massive nuclear target with L. Lederman and collaborators. These experiments helped establish the existing models of parton subprocesses in strong scattering, and the character of parton fragmentation.

Near the end of his career, Bud worked to develop the DO experiment planned for the Fermilab pbar p collider. He took delight in the challenge of designing and building the novel uranium-liquid argon calorimeter and provided many of the ideas in that project. He contributed much to the shaping of the experiment, drawing from his long experience in the pursuit of good physics.

Good was strongly connected to the theoretical development of physics. Besides his introduction of the neutral K phenomenology and diffractive dissociation of the proton, he published an influential paper on neutral leptonic currents with L. Michel and E. DeRafael, and studies of the Delta I = 1/2 rule with M. Nieto. With C.N. Yang, he explored the effect of multiple collisions within the same particle-nucleus interaction, opening the way for subsequent investigations of multiple parton interactions in hadron collisions, and the study of heavy ion collisions. One of his most enduring theoretical interests was the nature of collapsed stellar objects. Shortly after the first observation of pulsars, he developed a theory of pulsars as rotating neutron stars. Treating these objects as massive generators with peculiar quasi-crystalline composition, he was able to show remarkable agreement with observed pulsar period changes and radiation patterns.

Good played many roles in helping to direct the larger community of particle physics. He served on several laboratory Program Advisory Committees, including the Fermilab PAC in its formative years. He served on the Universities Research Association Board of Trustees in its early days. Bud possessed remarkable insights into the way that research should and could be profitably conducted. His honesty and modesty were hallmarks, and his influence on the deliberations of science policy was profound.

We will remember Bud Good for his many achievements. More than most, he made an impact upon the development of physics. He was an extraordinarily imaginative thinker, seeing connections and new ways of looking at problems that no one else saw. His development of a new group at Stony Brook through his scientific leadership and the nurturing of young physicists has left its mark on the field. We will miss his clear-sighted view and his honorable approach to the conduct of physics.

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