About Wolfgang K.H. Panofsky

Wolfgang Kurt Hermann “Pief” Panofsky, a widely respected physicist, science advisor, and arms control advocate, was a Stanford University professor and the founding Director of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. He led construction of the lab’s 2-mile-long linear accelerator, promoted the use of SPEAR as one of the earliest synchrotron light sources, and oversaw a research enterprise that produced three Nobel prizes. [For more information, please refer to the Past SLAC Directors webpage.]

This energetic, unusually accessible scientist and administrator combined knowledge of high energy physics with detailed, first hand understanding of the technology of accelerators. In 1984, the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center paid tribute to its retiring director with a two day "Pief-Fest." The diversity of participants from all ranks of university, laboratory and scientific life was emblematic of the range of Panofsky's contributions and reflected great affection for a man whose life had been so closely tied to the evolution of SLAC. In his opening tribute, theoretical physicist and laboratory colleague Sidney Drell noted:

I am amazed at the invariance principles that characterize all of Pief's actions and interactions. His optimism, his warmth, his patience, his integrity, his kindness, his courage, and his persistence -- like the gravitational constant or the fine structure constant -- haven't wavered or altered one bit during all these years. Neither have his clothes or his geometry. He has also pioneered the building of beautiful machines and created a great laboratory -- immodestly perhaps considered here the greatest high energy lab; he has been an inspired and inspiring teacher, and throughout his career has devoted himself unselfishly to effective, wise and innumerable contributions to science policy and budgetary considerations in Washington, and to improved international collaboration in science and the free flow of scientists and science across national and ideological boundaries.

Sidney Drell, "Pief Fest, August 1984" SLAC Beam Line 15:8 (August 1984) 4,6