DR. ROBERT PICCIONI on EINSTEIN, at WVRC on June 9th
DAVID FRIEDMAN provided the Invocation which I missed, since I was late! Thanks, DAVID, and I’m sorry I was late. STEVE PETTISE led the Pledge, plus The Four Way Test. And yet again, LENNY came through as our song leader.
We had two Visiting Rotarians. Dick Thompson, from the WLA/Brentwood Club, and his classification is Photography he also does it for the District. A frequent visitor was with us again, Renato Romano from Beverly Hills. SUNNY was of course with LENNY. There were two guests who knew the Speaker, Nooshie Mucharuff and Alan Ledermann.
BRIAN WHITNEY couldn’t locate any pinless wonders. DAVID FRIEDMAN was fined between 30 and 70 dollars for his blatant advertising. COLBY SMITH was asked to stand, and President GORDON was pleased to announce Colby’s marriage ten days ago - it was a Camping Wedding, literally. In addition, the first class of Dentists graduating from UCLA with COLBY as an Instructor, earned him a $100 fine.
PP JIM COLLINS was acknowledged as one of the two named persons on the New Westside Family YMCA, now named the Collins-Katz Family YMCA, which kicked off their building campaign last evening at UniHi which is where the new building will be. And Jim was further honored with the Lifetime Icon Award by the UCLA Longevity Center. As he said, it can’t be all bad when you get a kiss from Jane Fonda! He also celebrated fifty years on the Board of the Y. All this, naturally, cost him a thousand big ones, and he wondered if he could continue to afford being a member of WVRC....
Our former member, PP RALPH WOODWORTH, had open-heart surgery a couple of weeks ago. He is getting along fine, and you can reach him directly at (760) 837-1715. His home address is 80811 Camino San Gregorio, Indio 92203. And at the District Conference, WVRC received the Silver Quill Award, for our editing of the Windmill. PP STEVE DAY, wearing his Foundation Hat, presented JOHN HEIDT as our newest Paul Harris Fellow.
Please be sure to confirm your attendance at the Demotion Party on June 25th, to DON NELSON. And note we will be dark on June 30th - no meeting, OK? We received two Letters of Commendation, as follows: Engineers Without Borders - thanks for our support of their campaign to build ferrocement water tanks in Chocantariy, Guatemala, and Reading To Kids - our donation of $5,000 will be well used in buying more books for distribution, and our regular supporters were named - Marsha Hunt, Ed Jackson, John O’Keefe, and Ernie Wolfe.
As usual, PP CHRIS BRADFORD introduced our Speaker, Dr. Robert Piccioni. He graduated in Physics from Caltech, with a high-energy PhD from Stanford, and has been a faculty member at Harvard. He has done research at the Stanford Linear Accelerator in Palo Alto. Among others with whom he had done research is Richard Feynman. His father, Dr. Oreste Piccioni, studied under Enrico Fermi, and was awarded the Matteuchi Medal, given these last 140 years for fundamental contributions in the progress of science. Other recipients include Thomas Edison, Marie & Pierre Currie, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr and Enrico Fermi. He is the author of two award-winning books, and hosts the online radio show, “Guide to the Cosmos”.
Dr. Piccioni had an excellent power-point presentation along with his talk. He began by asking for a show of hands - How many of you are great Musicians? A couple of hands. How many of you love great music? More hands this time. He pointed out that the same is true of science - everyone can enjoy the mysteries and discoveries of our universe. This is why he will be telling us the story of the “Person of the Century” as chosen by Time Magazine, Albert Einstein.
With this title, you might think his life was an upward geyser - but he had failure after failure in his early years. He was slow to learn to talk, and expelled from the 2nd grade for being inattentive! He dropped out of high school in his second year, then failed the entrance exam for college. He passed the exam the next year, and did graduate - but with the 2nd worst grades in the entire class. He had offended all his professors, and thus became the only graduate of that class who could not get a job. He applied to numerous Institutes and Universities, but was always rejected. He then failed a special interview that had been arranged, to become a government clerk! Fortunately, his political connections did get him the job anyway. He applied to the University of Zurich for their PhD program, and was, of course, rejected. But he did possess one significant characteristic he persisted.
His entire range of equipment was then shown - a pad of paper and a pencil! He did publish five spectacular papers. They covered the five leading scientific questions of the day. And they did get him his PhD! But nothing came of this, for some time. At the age of thirty, he got his first faculty appointment. Four years later he became a full professor at the University of Berlin. One condition was that he would never have to teach a class. He thus had no specific responsibilities, which allowed him to sit and think. This did achieve for him the Nobel Prize in 1921.
A basic argument for the most recent twenty five centuries was whether the atom was contiguous or not. He proposed a test, which was done by others, that answered the question. He developed what led to the chip in our video cameras. He was responsible for lasers - which have almost uncounted uses today. He provided the basis for your GPS, and of course the theory which led to atomic energy, and the Bomb. He tells us that energy and mass are equivalent to each other (and Dr. Piccioni may begin to lose me here…).
Energy and money are similar, somehow - he uses money since we all understand it better. He used the example of converting dollars to yen - you simply multiply the number of yen by the exchange rate and you have the value in dollars. The exchange rate is called the coefficient in physics. In a bizarre example, based on providing energy for a million people for one day, you get as much energy from a penny as by burning two million gallons of gasoline…
What are some sources of energy? With, coal, if you burn five billion tons, you will have all the energy you want. Oil is more efficient as a producer of energy, of course, but you get more tons of pollution. The atom is a better source, and it produces no pollution. If you take radium, and split it, you have 100,000 times the energy provided by coal. The bad news is what do you do with the waste? Nuclear fission provides four billion times the energy of coal. There is a small company in Chicago that seems to have figured this out. When fully developed, Dr. Piccioni feels the result will be the greatest single achievement since we discovered fire!
Q&A - What is the name of the company in Chicago? It’s Lapus Energy - and he has no financial interest in the company - it is privately held. How do you get energy out? Present methods provide 1% of the potential - to get more, you need a black hole, which we don’t have at present. How do matter and anti-matter react to each other? They are mutually destructive.
How is our government responding? We are shutting down our space exploration, and turning it over to the Russians. We are withdrawing from the International Collider Program, and thus leaving it to Europe. These are two significant surrenders - we are abandoning the frontiers of science. What is a meteor reactor? It is a different form of a nuclear reactor and uses fuel cells more efficiently - thus it is better than uranium. The problem is the initial cost of development.
Dr. Piccioni, we thank you for your presentation. My obvious problem is that it goes so far beyond my own understanding of even some of the technology that I must apologize for an incomplete report.