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HPD project at Columbia University
Posted by rwpcuus on 2/20/2003
I was the last person to ever get data from film taken in the Fermilab 15ft. Neon filled Bubble Chamber during the neutrino runs of the 1970's. However, the HPD which was analyzing this data at Columbia University's Nevis Labs was terminated about six months before its funding was to be cut off. For the last several years that the HPD project produced data at Nevis I was the sole person that was involved in keeping it running. The supervisor of the HPD Group misled Professor Charles Baltay into believing at the end of 1979 that the HPD could produce data without me until its scheduled shutdown in June 1980. As a result, Prof Baltay terminated my employment in Jan 1980 in order to save my measely salary right after he ran off to CERN. The remaining Research Associates whose salaries were 5 times mine and whose software role long ended somehow managed to convince Baltay that the entire group participated in its day to day operations, when in fact NOBODY except myself was capable of getting data from the HPD. A matter-of-fact, I was kept out of the HPD meetings when I started complaining of the term "We" being used for all the work I was solely doing. This great miscalculation in Prof. Baltay's judgement was fatal to the HPD project's premature end. I was led to believe by my supervisor that my employment was ending because the HPD project was being shutdown in January 1980. When Prof Baltay returned in the late spring from CERN the truth was finally told to him by the two Chinese graduate students when they complained that they stopped getting HPD data the day I left in January 1980, six moths before its intended termination. The other person being termianted was the project engineer who the HPD and whose termination was to be in June. He kept calling me up and telling me how the HPD supervisor was harassing him into leaving before his termination date. It wasn't until I found out that the HPD was not to stop production with my departure that it dawned on me why the project supervisor wanted the HPD engineer to leave early. He could then blame the end of HPD operations on the absence of maintenance and would be able to c.h.a. on Baltay's return? As I was told of the HPD meeting held on Baltay's return that Prof Baltay was finally informed that "only Ralph Pisani knew how to run the HPD". As a result the last HPD in the world stopped running the day I left Nevis Labs in January 1980.

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