Image of Brookhaven National Laboratory Brookhaven National Laboratory
Brookhaven National Laboratory, 1947—Present; J-Particle Discovery, Samuel Ting, 1974

By the end of WWII, it was clear that in the future physicists would need access to increasingly larger and more expensive research facilities than any one university could provide. MIT and eight other major eastern universities formed a non-profit corporation to establish a new nuclear science facility. In 1947, under the direction of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, Brookhaven National Laboratory opened. The pioneering center has been home to seven Nobel Prize-winning discoveries.

In 1974, during high energy particle physics experiments using Brookhaven’s Alternating Gradient Synchrotron, MIT Professor Samuel C. C. Ting discovered a new kind of heavy elementary particle. Since the last meson was named the K particle, Ting named the new one the J particle. Ting won the 1976 Nobel Prize for this discovery, and gave his acceptance speech in Chinese, the first Nobel Laureate to do so. The particle was independently and simultaneously discovered by a team at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center whose leader, MIT alumnus Burton Richter, shared the prize with Ting.

There were “J’s” everywhere after the announcement of Ting’s Nobel Prize, including this sign, which has remained above the entrance to the MIT Cyclotron on Vassar Street for 35 years. The sign is on loan from the MIT Department of Physics.

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