J. Reginald Richardson’s Dream


J. Reginald Richardson: he
was born on the Prairie and raised by the Sea;
but it was down South in the Land of the Free
that he learned the fine art of knob-twiddlery.

At Berkeley and later at UCLA,
devices with dials would all do as he’d say.
The technique that he used is known to this day
as the J. Reginald Richardson Way.

They say that all hell on wheels knew the fame
of J. Reginald Richardson’s name.
His skill would put Mario Andretti to shame.
When he’d passed, no highway was ever the same.

He laboured with Alvarez after school
on a monstrous Linac to generate fuel.
They tell me that Luis is nobody’s fool;
was this the exception that proves the rule?

Now, every great twiddler needs a rest,
and Canada’s version of far Southwest
suits J. Reginald Richardson best,
so he made himself Galliano’s guest.

He set out one day on that sea-circled mound:
after walking and thinking for some time, he found
he was back where he started. He shouted, “Zounds!
An accelerator ought to be round!”

“Furthermore, clearly it seems only right
that problems with pushing the speed of light
should not interfere with the time of flight —
an isochronous path is a classic delight!

“The problem is, protons are hard to extract…
But only when they are injected intact!
If a couple of negative charges were packed
on the outside, this case could be easily cracked.”

Inspired, he sat down and drew up a design:
extraction consisted of changing the sign;
isochronous magnets would work just fine,
since at stripping the energy would be defined.

By this time the notion was well on its way
into history still being written today.
But first Reg had a few dues to pay,
so he carried it back to UCLA.

Now, ‘way down South in the U.S. of A.,
things are done in a different way:
only once; always big; always, some say,
to guarantee citizens taxes to pay.

Lord Bethe declared that no sane man would dream
of a polarized negative hydrogen beam,
and Clinton P. Anderson’s eye did gleam.
Oh, together they made a formidable team.

So our hero went down to defeat and dismay.
But never did Reginald Richardson say
he was finished; a new Task Force saved the day,
returning the concept to where it would stay.

They re-thought that “minimum energy” stuff:
persuading electrons never to slough
at close to a GeV is tough!
Maybe one pi at a time was enough.

Erich and Reginald collaborated.
The concept was carefully masticated.
Then Erich, Ed, John, and others persuaded
far Ottowa that Meson Physics was fated.

Support from the three Universities won
the funding from Eastern Establishment dons,
so TRIUMF rushed in where no Angeles had gone:
an isochronous H cyclotron.

There followed a few years of struggle and sweat
into which Reg cleverly didn’t get.
When it looked like the challenge was going to be met,
he added five years of his life to the bet.

Soon after arriving, he plainly could see
that some major components were NFG.
But the Destructive Testing Task Force would see
to getting a brand new Transformer for free.

And Heaven forbid, had an angry mob
made Magnet Shimming a Union job,
J. Reginald Richardson sobs
to think of how far he would be from his knobs.

A tale I am told, though I’d rather not quote,
that when Socialist notions were rocking the boat
J. Reginald Richardson smote
the gavel, and cried, “There will be no vote!”

(I imagine then Erich awoke with a grin
from a dream which he’d been Henry Kissinger in
and sat up and spoke through the noise and the din,
“This sounds like the good part; I think I’ll join in!”)

When TRIUMF was only beginning to get
the first beam, Experiments got their feet wet
and J. Reginald Richardson met
his greatest annoyance and obstacle yet.

When our plans were beset with “a few minor flaws”
and came to a sudden impasse just because
of attempting to violate physical laws,
why, we blamed it all on the Beam and the Boss.

And when budgets came out, there was always a fuss
In a disgruntled chorus we’d mutter and cuss
that J. Reginald Richardson was
a spendthrift with other guys, stingy with us.

But the truth should be known (if you haven’t all guessed),
that some would have been less incensed and obsessed
had J. Reginald Richardson blessed
mesons a bit more, and nucleons less.

So right from the start he was under the gun,
but he stuck to the task through frustration and fun,
and now it’s all over, the struggle is done,
and J. Reginald Richardson . . .



Yes, it’s all over now… or so it would seem;
yet I hear of a Galliano scheme:
a Task Force for Remote Control of the Beam
of J. Reginald Richardson’s Dream.


Written for the occasion of Reg Richardson’s retirement as the second Director of TRIUMF, 25 June 1976.  There are of course a lot of “in jokes”.

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