Guide to the Tantalus Synchrotron Radiation Source Collection
NMAH.AC.0532

Administrative Information

Repository Information

Archives Center, National Museum of American History

P.O. Box 37012
 Suite 1100, MRC 601
 Washington, D.C., 20013-7012
 Phone: 202-633-3270
 archivescenter@si.edu

Conditions Governing Access note

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use note

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.

Custodial History note

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.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

The collection was donated by Ednor M. Rowe, Associate Director for Accelerator Development, Synchrotron Radiation Center, University of Wisconsin on November 20, 1995.

Processing Information note

Processed by Alison Oswald, archivist, 1995.

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Summary Information

Repository
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Creator - (interviewee).
Brown, Fred,
Creator - (interviewee).
Olson, Cliff
Creator - (interviewee).
Otte, Roger
Creator - (interviewee).
Pruett, Charles
Creator - (interviewee).
Rowe, Ednor "Ed"
Creator
Tantalus Project.
Title
"Tantalus" Synchrotron Radiation Source Collection
ID
NMAH.AC.0532
Date
1940-1995
Extent
4 Cubic feet; 11 boxes
Language
English

Preferred Citation note

"Tantalus" Synchrotron Radiation Source Collection, 1940-1995, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

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Biographical/Historical note

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."

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Scope and Contents note

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.

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Arrangement note

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

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

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.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Synchrotron Radiation Center

Genre(s)

  • Notebooks
  • Videotapes

Personal Name(s)

  • University of Wisconsin--Madison

Subject(s)

  • Laboratories--1940-2000
  • Physicists--1940-2000.
  • Physics--Experiments--1940-2000
  • Radiation--1960-1990
  • Synchrotron radiation

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Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements note

Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs, negatives, and slides.

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Collection Inventory

 Series 1: Notebooks and Logbooks, 1940-1986

Box Folder

Amplidyne Manual, 1965

1 1

Amplidyne maintenance procedure, circa 1966

1 2

Experiment descriptions, 1967-1986

1 3-4

Mura 50-MeV electron accelerator, 1964

1 5

Alignment fixture calibrations, 1966

1 6

Tantalus I and II design group meetings, 1975-1976

1 7

Photographs, undated

1 8
Box

Low-inductance switching using parallel spark gaps, 1940-1967

2

Kicker inflector, undated

2

Magnet data book, 1969

2

"Project Bang", undated

3

Magnet parameters (coil), 1966-1968

3

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 Series 2: Data and Operational Logbooks, 1965-1995

Box

Storage ring maintenance log, 1968

3

Storage ring alignment, 1967-1969

4

Storage ring operational data (photos), undated

2

Storage ring aata book-probes, 1965

4

Storage ring magnet alignment data (blueprints and drawings), 1966

4

Storage ring maintenance log, 1968

5

Storage ring operating data book one, 1968

5

Storage ring operating data book two, 1969

5

Storage ring running time log book, 1966, 1970-1980

6

Storage ring data book three, 1977

6

Synchrotron radiation experiments, 1970

6

Tantalus amplidyne generators (photos), 1966-1986

7

Tantalus daily log (photos), 1970 June 15-1986 May 12

7

Tantalus spark gap logs (photos), 1967 March 13-1976 November

7

Storage ring running time log book, 1981 May 1 - 1995 August 31

8

Tantalus spark gaps log book, 1967 November 7-1968 October 8

8

Tantalus survey and optical alignment log, 1965 October-1967 June

8

Tantalus alignment fixture calibration, 1966

3

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 Series 3: User Beam Schedule Sheets, 1968-1986

Map-case
3
Drawer
22
Folder
1

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 Series 4: Storage Ring Blueprints, 1966-1972

3 22 1

 Series 5: Video Histories, 1995

 Subseries 1: Original Videos, 1995

Box

OV 532.1, Tantalus Project, 1995

9

OV 532.2, Tantalus Project, 1995

9

OV 532.3, Tantalus Project, 1995

9

OV 532.4, Tantalus Project, 1995

9

OV 532.5, Tantalus Project, 1995

9

OV 532.6, Tantalus Project, 1995

9

OV 532.7, Tantalus Project, 1995

9

OV 532.8, Tantalus Project, 1995

9

OV 532.9, Tantalus Project, 1995

9

OV 532.10, Tantalus Project, 1995

9

OV 532.11, Tantalus Project, 1995

9

OV 532.12, Tantalus Project, 1995

9

 Subseries 2: Master Videos, 1995 April 25

Box

MV 532.1, Tantalus Project, 1995 April 25

12

MV 532.2, Tantalus Project, 1995 April 25

12

MV 532.3, Tantalus Project, 1995 April 25

12

MV 532.4, Tantalus Project, 1995 April 25

13

MV 532.5, Tantalus Project, 1995 April 25

13

MV 532.6, Tantalus Project, 1995 April 25

13

 Subseries 3: Reference Videos, 1995 May 24

Box

RV 532.1, Tantalus Project, 1995 May 24

10

RV 532.2, Tantalus Project, 1995 May 24

10

RV 532.3, Tantalus Project, 1995 May 24

10

RV 532.4, Tantalus Project, 1995 May 24

10

RV 532.5, Tantalus Project, 1995 May 24

10

RV 532.6, Tantalus Project, 1995 May 24

10

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 Series 6: Oral History Cassettes, 1995 April 24 - 1995 April 25

Box

OTC 532.1, Tantalus Project, 1995 April 24

11

OTC 532.2, Tantalus Project, 1995 April 24

11

OTC 532.3, Tantalus Project, 1995 April 24

11

OTC 532.4, Tantalus Project, 1995 April 25

11

OTC 532.5, Tantalus Project, 1995 April 25

11

OTC 532.6, Tantalus Project, 1995 April 25

11

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