Guide to the Tantalus Synchrotron Radiation Source Collection

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.0532
Creators:
Tantalus Project
Rowe, Ednor "Ed"
Pruett, Charles
Olson, Cliff
Otte, Roger
Brown, Fred
Dates:
1940-1995
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
3.5 Cubic feet
11 boxes
Repository:

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The collection consists primarily of notebooks, manuals, and other data and operational logbooks documenting the creation, building, and maintenance of Tantalus, and the experiments performed on the machine. Tantalus was the first dedicated synchrotron radiation laboratory and source. Series 5 and Series 6 include oral and video histories with Ednor Rowe, Fred Brown, Cliff Olson, Charles Pruett, and Roger Otte.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is divided into six series.
Series 1, Notebooks and Logbooks, 1940-1986
Series 2, Data and Operational Logbooks, 1965-1995
Series 3, User Beam Schedule Sheets, 1968-1986
Series 4, Storage Ring Blueprints, 1966-1972
Series 5, Video Histories, 1995
Series 6, Oral History Cassettes, 1995

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
At the University of Wisconsin during 1965-1967, a team led by particle physicist Ednor Rowe built a machine designed to analyze what goes on inside high-energy particle accelerators. This was the big, exciting technology in physics at the time. But just as the apparatus neared completion, funding was cut off. Its creators, feeling teased by fate and their government backers, dubbed the machine "Tantalus."
Rowe knew, though, that a by-product of Tantalus's operation was intense "synchrotron radiation," a form of ultra violet light that is used to study the structure of matter. He quickly adapted the machine to make this radiation available for use and soon the facility was crowded with experimenters from all over the world. Tantalus not only pioneered the use of synchrotron radiation, but created a research facility where both scientists and graduate students could perform hands-on work.
Researchers shared information and the results of their experiments in a collegial environment. There was no "King of the Ring" among these goal-oriented scientists. Those working at the Synchrotron Radiation Center always sought ways to improve upon Tantalus, with the result that Tantalus remained an important research tool until 1987, when it was retired and replaced by a newer machine, "Aladdin."

Administration
Processing Information
Processed by Alison Oswald, archivist, 1995.
Author
Alison Oswald.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated by Ednor M. Rowe, Associate Director for Accelerator Development, Synchrotron Radiation Center, University of Wisconsin on November 20, 1995.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research.
Preferred Citation
"Tantalus" Synchrotron Radiation Source Collection, 1940-1995, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs, negatives, and slides.

Related Materials
The Division of Information, Technology, and Society (now the Division of Medicine and Science) collected part of the Tantalus synchrotron radiation ring. See accession 1997.0078.

Custodial History
Custodial History
In March 1994, Ednor Rowe contacted the National Museum of American History about the decommissioning of Tantalus. Museum curators decided to add part of the Tantalus accelerator ring to the collections in modern physics and also collected written documentation in the form of operational and data notebooks and logbooks that trace the creation, building, maintenance, and experiments carried out on the machine. There are also black and white photographs, slides, and oral and video documentation.
With the support of the Lemelson Center, the curators conducted videohistory interviews with Tantalus staff Ednor Rowe, Fred Brown, Cliff Olson, Charles Pruett, and Roger Otte. These discussions and reminiscences capture the human side of this high-tech machine's history.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Notebooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Physics -- Experiments -- 1940-2000 Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Synchrotron radiation Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Physicists -- 1940-2000 Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Laboratories -- 1940-2000 Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Radiation -- 1960-1990 Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Videotapes Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Synchrotron Radiation Center Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
University of Wisconsin--Madison Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
archivescenter@si.edu
http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives