Our Interview With Larry Weston, a Nuclear Physicist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for 35 years.
Q. Do you consider your job to be adventurous or not?
A. My job in experimental nuclear physics was quite adventurous as compared to most other professions. Within some limits, I could determine which experiments I would do from those I thought would yield interesting results. I used a large accelerator and state of the art electronics and was assisted by an electronics engineer. The work was challenging both mentally and physically. The main feature of a career in physics is that it is very interesting.
Q. In the last five years what changes has your career went through?
A. In the last few years, great changes have occurred in scientific work. There is much more emphasis on safety, environment and procedures. While these things are important, it has made it much more difficult to do creative
work because of the time taken for paper work and inspections.
Q. What did you do on a daily basis?
A. On a daily basis, I spent about half my time on paper work and half my time on experiments. On the experiments, I spent about a third of the time on new experiments,a third of the time on the analysis of data of completed experiments and a third of the time writing papers to report my work in
scientific journals. The data analysis involved the use of powerful computers.
Q.What is the best asset of your career?
A. The best asset of my career was the freedom I had in determining what experiments I would carry out and how I would spend my time. Working on things that were very interesting to me was great and the job was never
Q. Why did you choose something so high tech?
A. The choice of something so high tech was because that is what interested me and what I enjoyed. The thought of a boring job would depress me. A high tech job is interesting, pays very well and provides much freedom.
What more can you ask? It sure beats pumping gas or selling hamburgers.
Q. How often do you have to take a class or a workshop to keep up on the upcoming technology in your career?
A. I did not take classes or workshops in the usual sense to keep up with the technology of my career. What we did was to attend meeting at different locations (sometimes overseas) three or four times a year and give oral and written papers on our work. This way we reported on the work we had done and kept up with the work by others in the field. Also, I kept up by reading the
Q. Do you feel that your job will become more important in the next few years?
A. There are fewer people working in nuclear physics now than in the past for several reasons. Research in general has been cut back. The death of the nuclear power industry for the present time (it will return) caused cut back in funds. Other fields such as astrophysics are more popular at present. Physics research, in general, will continue to be quite important.
Q. What was the most dangerous situation you faced as a nuclear physist?
A. There were not dangerous situations in my job. The experiments were adventurous in that one had to be inventive and you never knew just what to expect.
Q. What was the most exciting aspect of your career?
A. The most exciting aspect of my career was when we did experiments to prove or disprove new theories about nuclear data or found unexplained effects in nuclear reactions for which new theories had to be generated..
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This page was created by Robbie King and was last modified on August 15, 1996. Picture property of Larry Weston and has not been modified.