An interview with Barry Barish – Iwate Nippo

The original article was published in the Iwate Nippo (August 7th edition). Read the original here.

Iwate Nippo got the opportunity to interview Barry Barish and Sheldon Glashow, two American Nobel laureates in Physics who appeared at a symposium in Tokyo. They talked about their thoughts on strengthening the calls directed at both the American and Japanese governments for the ILC. Dr. Barish stressed how important the ILC would be: “This would be a way for Japan to become a leader in elementary particle physics.” Dr. Glashow talked about how America had canceled a project to build a massive particle collider, which ripples throughout fundamental physics research. Keeping that in mind, “if Japan refuses the ILC, they would be making the same mistake the USA did.”

(Interviewed by Yuki Kanda, deputy general of the editing bureau of Iwate Nippo)

Interview with Barry Barish

In Japan, they have been debating the effects of investing such a large amount of money in the ILC. Why should the ILC be built here?

“If the laboratory is built, people will come and consume goods, and related businesses will gather in the area. It’s clear there will be an economic effect. But that’s not the main goal. The biggest reason the ILC is necessary is that it will be a way for Japan to become a leader in elementary particle physics. The second reason is the globalism that will happen with the research. Japan will be host to scientists from all over the world, and will have to integrate everyone together to push forth the research – that’s really important. International cooperation has been happening since the design stage of the ILC.”

The ILC has been shortened to 20 km since your time leading the global design effort of the ILC. How does that affect the importance of the experiments?

“The most important reason for building the ILC is to deepen our understanding of the Higgs boson particle. It is so exciting to press forward into a field of high energy that, as of yet, is still unknown to us. The reason the original plan was a bit longer (31 km) was to reach out beyond the Higgs particle. As a scientist, I’d prefer to build it all at one time, but lengthening the ILC in stages is another way to do it. If we do that, we may be able to find supersymmetric particles. The decision to do it or not do it lies with the government.”

You have led projects like the Superconducting Supercollider, LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory), and the ILC. From those experiences, what do you think about urging governments to realize the ILC?

“Of course I’ll do it. That’s why I’m here. Making big steps forward in science means going along with risk. Taking a conservative stance where you know the answer means you won’t go forward. In these 20 years, I worked on developing a detector for gravitational waves (which got me the Nobel Prize). I didn’t know I would succeed, and feared I would fail. But because I tried, a breakthrough happened.

“The ILC will be the same. By going forth and challenging ourselves, a new horizon will open to us. I worked on the design for the past ten years. Research and development already has created a model that is ready (to be built). It will definitely function, so the issue is whether the costs will be covered at this stage. It all depends on the results, but this is not too expensive. Opening up a new horizon in particle physics with the ILC will be huge, so I hope they will continue to pursue this approach.”

Barry Barish

Born in Nebraska, USA in 1936. 82 years old. Professor emeritus at the California Institute of Technology. He was the director of LIGO, which was the first in the world to record the existence of gravitational waves, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2017. He served as the head of the ILC global design effort team from 2005-2013, and visited Iwate Prefecture in 2012.