One of the fields was a brand-new field, which had to do with what you would call an atom smasher and we’d call a particle accelerator. Columbia University was building a large atom smasher off-campus. But they were building one which, when it was in operation back in 1951, was the largest atom smasher in the world, for a short time, before somebody else built a bigger one. That field was brand new to Columbia. I was intrigued by that, that I’d be almost as up on the field as the professors who had determined to bring that subject to Columbia but were not experts. That was exciting because it was a new field.
It was a totally new field. It had to do with “what’s inside.” That’s the title of it: “What’s Inside.” We know that if you take a small piece of chalk or any material and you start cutting it, you cut it into smaller and smaller pieces. If you keep cutting it and pretend that you can keep on doing this, eventually you get down to something which we call a molecule. This might be a molecule of some kind. Then we notice that a molecule is made of atoms, which are even smaller. It’s kind of a zooming down.
Now you’re getting into sizes which the human eye can’t see. So you go molecule, you go atom — and then inside the atom, it turns out that the atom itself is made of nuclei and electrons around it. That part of the field was well known. We were continuing that field into the nucleus of the atom. So you go zooming down, down, into even smaller dimensions. Like, if this whole room were an atom, then in the middle of the room, there’s a grain of dandruff. That’s the nucleus. You zoom down to the grain of dandruff, you look at it, and you say, “What’s inside?” So it was the added business of search, of trying to understand the basic building blocks, which to me was the turn-on.