Clifford G. Shull

Banquet speech

Clifford G. Shull’s speech at the Nobel Banquet, December 10, 1994

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I need not say that Bertram Brockhouse and I are immensely grateful to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for affording us the great honor of being named Laureates today. Being selected as such is a dream for any scientist who hopes that his work will prove useful to others.

If one looks back through the history of advances in physics, you find many examples of notable findings from scattering experiments. In this, you introduce some entity to a target assembly and upon studying its interaction with the target you learn much about the latter. Over the last century, physicists have used light quanta electrons, alpha particles, X-rays, gamma-rays, protons, neutrons and exotic sub-nuclear particles for this purpose. Much important information about the target atoms or nuclei or their assemblage has been obtained in this way. In witness of this importance one can point to the unusual concentration of scattering enthusiasts among earlier Nobel Laureate physicists. One could say that physicists just love to perform or interpret scattering experiments.

And that is where Bert Brockhouse and I came into the picture. We were separately introduced to intense beams of low energy neutrons, recently available from World War-period devices, called nuclear reactors, in the years following the war at places separated by a thousand miles in separate research surroundings. Our challenge then was to see what neutrons could be used for, considering their unique characteristics.

The wonderful reward we have received today seems to indicate that some of nature’s secrets are indeed vulnerable to this tool of the physicist. We are indeed appreciative of the honor. Thank you very much.

From Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 1994, Editor Tore Frängsmyr, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1995

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1994

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