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Larry Gladney

Research physicist and professor Larry Donnie Gladney was born on August 9, 1957, in Cleveland, Mississippi, to Annie Lee Gladney and Lucius Green Walker. Raised by his mother in East St. Louis, Illinois, Gladney attended Alta Sita Elementary School, Clarke Junior High School, and graduated third in his class from East St. Louis High School in 1975. Keenly interested in the nature of matter, Gladney earned his B.A. degree in physics from Northwestern University in 1979, and went on to Stanford University to earn his M.S. degree, then his Ph.D. in physics in 1985. Gladney pursued post-doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania from 1985 to 1988.

Gladney, teaching and conducting research at the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Physics in 1988, developed the third-level tau lepton triggers for the Collider Detector at Fermilab. From 1989 to 1994, Gladney served as a Presidential Young Investigator for the National Science Foundation. He was awarded a Lilly Teaching Fellowship in 1990, and by 1992 Gladney made the first observation of an exclusive B meson decay in the hadron collider environment. In 1997, Gladney received the coveted Edward A. Bouchet Award from the American Physical Society, and the Martin Luther King, Jr., Lecturer Award from Wayne State University. By 2000, Gladney had been selected as the American representative to the Computing Coordinating Group for BaBar; he was then selected to head the Level 3 Trigger effort for the BaBar experiment at the SLAC PEP-II Collider. Gladney, from 2003 to 2004, was a visiting scholar at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Gladney served as a member of the U.S. Army Science Advisory Board from 1997 to 2002. Gladney also served as a member of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel for the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2001, and other NSF and Department of Energy committees over the years, including Quarknet. Gladney later served as a member of the Advisory and Review Committee for the Origin and Structure of Matter project of the NSF.

Interested in the success of young people, Gladney was the recipient of the Outstanding Community Service Award from the Black Graduate Professional Students’ Association at the University of Pennsylvania. Gladney was also an occasional lecturer on the subject of seeing and researching dark energy, and in 2006 appeared on a program entitled The Three Cosmic Tenors: Exploring the Frontiers of Matter, Energy, Space and Time with other black physicists, James Gates and Herman B. White, Jr.

Accession Number

A2006.104

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/23/2006

Last Name

Gladney

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

East St. Louis High School

Alta Sita Elementary School

Clark Junior High School

Mason-Clark Middle School

Northwestern University

Stanford University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Larry

Birth City, State, Country

Cleveland

HM ID

GLA03

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

Mississippi

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Interview Description
Birth Date

8/9/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Philadelphia

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Physicist Larry Gladney (1957 - ) is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania studying theoretical and particle physics. He works with the Collider Detector at Fermilab.

Employment

University of Pennsylvania

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Larry Gladney's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Larry Gladney describes his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Larry Gladney talks about his mother's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Larry Gladney talks about his mother and the lack of a Civil Rights movement in Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Larry Gladney describes his mother as a single parent and her compassion for others

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Larry Gladney talks about his mother's youth and her growing up in Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Larry Gladney describes his father his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Larry Gladney describes his father as a Mama's Boy

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Larry Gladney describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Larry Gladney describes his parents' differences

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Larry Gladney describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Larry Gladney describes growing up in East St. Louis

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Larry Gladney describes some of the sight, sounds and smells of growing up in East St. Louis

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Larry Gladney discusses the Buckminster Fuller Plan [an architectural design, part of The Old Man River's City project in 1971] in East St. Louis

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Larry Gladney talks about the sights and sounds of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Larry Gladney remembers what he was like as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Larry Gladney talks about his elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Larry Gladney remembers the teachers at his school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Larry Gladney recounts the unpleasantness of his elementary school teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Larry Gladney talks about his Junior High School

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Larry Gladney talks about the schools on the northside and taking upper level classes with a small group

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Larry Gladney talks about going to college and the identity of black college students

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Larry Gladney talks about how he became hooked on science

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Larry Gladney talks about his exposure to religion

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Larry Gladney discusses the church and his questioning of religion

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Larry Gladney talks about his graduation from high school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Larry Gladney talks about why he chose Northwestern University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Larry Gladney talks about his perseverance in the lab at Northwestern

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Larry Gladney remembers his mentors in college

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Larry Gladney talks about being the president of his fraternity

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Larry Gladney talks about graduating from Northwestern University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Larry Gladney discusses choosing a graduate school

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Larry Gladney talks about his negative experiences at Stanford University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Larry Gladney describes his graduate school mentors

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Larry Gladney talks about the role of black identity with success in the STEM professions

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Larry Gladney talks about his doctoral dissertation on charm quarks

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Larry Gladney talks about Condolleeza Rice at Stanford University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Larry Gladney describes the culture and ethics of physicists

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Larry Crowe comments on the Manhattan Project

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Larry Gladney talks about the mindset of particle physicists

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Larry Gladney talks about physics and how science is "the great equalizer"

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Larry Gladney talks about his post-doctoral work

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Larry Gladney explains perceptions of racism

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Larry Gladney describes his two major fields of research

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Larry Gladney talks about antimatter

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Larry Gladney describes his approach to presenting his work before a lay audience

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Larry Gladney talks about dark energy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Larry Gladney describes The Three Cosmic Tenors

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Larry Gladney discusses the role of the National Society of Black Physicists

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Larry Gladney talks about attending scientific conferences

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Larry Gladney responds to a question on what he might have done differently

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Larry Gladney responds to a question on what he might have done differently

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Larry Gladney comments on his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Larry Gladney describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$5

DAStory

4$7

DATitle
Larry Gladney describes his two major fields of research
Larry Gladney talks about dark energy
Transcript
Okay. Now from what I was reading there are two major fields of research that you're involved in right now I guess or--?$$Particle physics and cosmology.$$Right.$$Those two fields overlap at the place where I'm very interested which is how did the universe begin? We believe that it started with a big bang which is an explosion so it was very hot and very dense and those are exactly the conditions in which there wasn't any normal matter. All the matter was in the form of quarks and the forces between them were all very strong forces not like the ones that we see today. So that it's exactly that intersection that I'm most interested in and it's where the two fields have pretty much identical goals and the methods up to this point have been different for approaching that same goal. So that one of the things very interesting about having people like me who had been very traditional particle physicists come in and work with cosmologists is that we're bringing some of the things that have been very successful for very large projects in particle physics where now it will be commonplace for papers. And particle physicists you know are journals to have a thousand or more authors. Some of them will have two thousand authors in the next few years. Whereas in cosmology, if you had a group of ten, that's considered huge, that's big. So merging these two cultures, we hope to take the best aspects of both in terms of proceeding with mounting these very challenging experiments to do things that are far beyond everyday experience now and far outside what we can reproduce in a laboratory. So if it doesn't work out optimally, would--neither of these groups, the cosmologists, nor the astrophysicists nor the particle physicists will get what they want which is the answers to these very deep questions. And we'll see how that works. It's, again it's another experiment and we can only judge it after that, after the fact.$That's right. So what to you today is the most intriguing aspect of physics in terms of--I mean is the project you're working on?$$Well the project I'm on now and I think it's the biggest question in all of physics is, what is the dark energy? What is this mysterious anti-gravity that's forcing the universe to get bigger and bigger at a faster and faster rate? And it's I think the most important question because it is so different, right? It's something that is allowed within [Albert] Einstein's general theory of relativity but it makes everything else wrong. It makes general relatively the one theory that we can depend on but quantum mechanics is wrong. And quantum mechanics has been just as fundamental to these foundation of physics as Einstein's theory of gravity has been. So that there's no comfort anywhere, right. In order to explain this you even have to give up on the physics that are very small in terms of quantum physics or the physics that are very large in terms of gravitation. One of those two has to be wrong and it might be both. So I don't see any other branch of physics where you can say there's something that is that profound as a possibility of you know rearranging the way we think about everything, right. That these things that have been very successful that have allowed us to build the atomic bomb, that allowed us to build nuclear reactors, that allowed us to build electronics and computers in terms of quantum physics. All those things are based on a theory which at its fundamental level is in disagreement with general relatively and the theory--Einstein's theory of gravitation. And we didn't have to reconcile those two before but now that we know about the existence of this anti-gravity, we can't escape it, right. And those two will have to interact in order to understand what this new phenomenon is. And every attempt by every physicist no matter how smart to date has failed to figure out a way to get them to play nicely together. There is one aspect which you would hear about from Jim [James] Gates who's going to be on the program with me tomorrow in which he thinks there's promise in this theory called super strings, super string theory and that may work out. But it's still got lots of possible holes in it that haven't been confirmed and probably can't be confirmed in a laboratory experiment for some time. So an experimentalist like me says I got to leave it as an open question, right. That these two things don't work together. I can't figure out how they're going to be consistent with one another. But until I understand the dark energy I don't have a clue as to what's going to force us to the next level, what's going to give us the crucial insight that allows some version of Einstein in the present day to figure out hey, this is how it works. This is how these two can fit together. And it causes us to rearrange some of the stuff we thought we understood before but that's okay because here is this bigger picture I can see how that works out.