Physical Review, Series 1, 18:135(1904).

Sulamith Goldhaber (1923-1965)

Sulamith Goldhaber Sulamith Low was born in Vienna, Austria, on November 4, 1923. Her family emigrated from Austria and she grew up in Palestine, where she met Gerson Goldhaber when they were both students at the Hebrew University. They received their masters degrees in 1947, the year they were married. They then came to the United States, where they attended the University of Wisconsin and earned their doctorates. From 1951 to 1953 Gerson had a junior faculty appointment at Columbia, working with the cyclotron, and Sula was a research associate in radiochemistry. Radiochemistry was an "intermediate state" that permitted her to learn and apply the techniques of nuclear physics and thereby make the otherwise "forbidden transition" from her original field of physical chemistry to high energy physics.

By the time Gerson came to Berkeley as an assistant professor in 1953, he and Sula had become one of the most competent American teams in the art and science of nuclear emulsion technology. They worked long hours together, setting up developing facilities for their emulsions and training a team of scanners and measurers. They had their eyes firmly on the Bevatron, which was about to become the world's most powerful accelerator. From its earliest operating days, one or both of them seemed always to be waiting in a corner of the control room, in the hope that the busy crew would grant them a quick exposure of some kind. Because of their perseverence, they were rewarded with some of the earliest and most interesting observations of the interactions of negative K mesons with protons.

Sula gave a memorable introductory talk on heavy mesons and hyperons at the 1956 Rochester Conference; much of what she reported was her own work. More than any other event in the history of the Rochester Conferences, her talk marked the turning point in the study of strange particles. Before then, cosmic ray physicists had reported almost all the experimental data; from then on, the field belonged almost exclusively to accelerator users.

Sula's bibliography shows many important papers among the 25 publications that resulted from her concentrated attack on Bevatron problems using the nuclear emulsion techniques. As examples, she and Gerson were the first to observe the mass splitting of the charged E hyperons, and she, working with most of the Berkeley exponents of the nuclear emulsion technique, observed the first nuclear interactions of the newly discovered antiprotons.

In the early 1960's, it became apparent that Sula Goldhaber should switch her attention from nuclear emulsions to bubble chambers. So she and Gerson teamed with George Trilling in the formation of what is frequently called the Goldhaber-Trilling Group. After a transition period in which she published simultaneously on nuclear events in emulsion, propane, and hydrogen, she concentrated her scientific attention on liquid hydrogen bubble chambers for the rest of her life.

Sula attacked the problems of hydrogen bubble chamber physics with the enthusiasm and vigor that had characterized all her earlier work. She was soon an acknowledged expert in the field, as her list of invited papers amply demonstrates. She was in great demand as a speaker at international conferences; she always had important things to say, and she expressed herself beautifully. Her contributions in this last period of her life are so well known that they hardly need to be recalled. She and her associates were long the world's experts on the interactions of K + mesons with nucleons, and she played important roles in the discoveries of several "resonant states," most notably the A mesons. She and Gerson first measured the spin of the K* meson; they are credited with the first study of the simultaneous production of pairs of resonant states, and they devised the "triangle diagram" to aid in such studies.

In the fall of 1965, Sula and Gerson started around the world on a sabbatical tour, visiting high energy physics laboratories, attending conferences, and giving lectures. Their first stop was at Oxford, to attend the biennial European conference on high energy physics. Sula had invested much of her last year in turning the Berkeley Hough-Powell device into a productive system, so she visited CERN to exchange ideas on automatic film measurement. She then lectured at Ankara, and spent the month of November at the Weizmann Institute, preparing the series of lectures she was to give in Madras.

But in Madras, she was suddenly stricken with a brain hemorrhage. Exploratory surgery revealed a brain tumor, and she died without recovering consciousness. To her countless friends all over the world, it was an unbelievable shock. It did not seem possible that someone who personified so much that was youthful and vivacious could suddenly be removed from our midst.

Sula had a fierce loyalty to all the things she loved, and they were many: her family, her religion, her two adopted countries, her science, her laboratory, and her friends. She managed concurrently to be several quite different, always attractive and effective persons: a distinguished scientist, a remarkable homemaker and hostess, and a devoted wife and mother. She will be missed for her important contributions to the many fields in which she labored, but most of all she will be missed for the personal warmth she always radiated. She was a fine scientist and a real woman.

September 1968

Dr. Luis Alvarez
Laurence Radiation Laboratory
University of California
Berkeley, California