Chapter 10: Fourth year in Paris

10.1 Finding a good research partner (1960)

J comes to see me each Sunday afternoon and stays till the last train. I am not promising her anything and she does not ask for it. But she is very sensitive; she knows intuitively about my hesitation. I do love her, but am I ready to be engaged? My good scholarship would be sufficient for us. She would go to a technical school and learn a useful trade, corresponding to her abilities. She would go to Alliance Francaise to obtain a teaching certificate; that would make her a French teacher in Poland. For the time being she would live with her parents and work in their store. […]

All is under control but I am not as enthusiastic as I was at the beginning of this third academic year. Why is it so? I am tired, after working too much recently. My trip to Warsaw, and to Zakopane, will be a well-deserved spring break. […] I was lucky to meet Claude, who is in the second year of the same program in Orsay. He is also interested in thin scintillation detectors and we will probably start working together. That should be more productive than working alone. […]

I visited J in her grocery store yesterday, and was invited to stay for supper. This confirmed what I already know; her parents do not like me. At one point her mother openly said, “I wish you would not come back from Poland; I would worry less about J.” She does not think that I am a good partner for their only daughter. What should I do? Why should I try to enter a family that does not want me? Yes, I love J and she loves me. But is this enough? […]

It will be my fourth academic year in France. The Pavilion Julianna, where I am going to live this year, is part of the Cite Universitaire in Paris. My room is a little bigger than I had in Antony last year. The student restaurant and the train station are within walking distance. The subway station, Porte d’Orleans, is also very close. […].

10.2 Two possible dissertation projects (1960)

My work in Orsay is progressing well. I am now focusing on the “delayed fission” project. The method is very simple; Joliot would probably like it. Will my hypothesis be confirmed? Only a limited amount of time should be devoted to this project. I will perform one experiment, hoping for success. If not, then I will follow Radvanyi’s advice--to start working on angular correlations. “In that area success will depend only on your abilities,” he said, “in the case of delayed fission success will also depend on you being lucky.” Yes, certain topics are more suitable for doctoral projects than others. But he expects me to summarize the delayed fission results at one of our seminars. […]

Claude is interested in working with me on angular correlations. That is good; he seems to be very knowledgeable and more organized than I am. I think he is a member of the communist party, like so many people in Orsay. But we do not speak about politics. […] The lab received an IBM computer; this gives me a chance to learn programming. […]

And what about J? The link that united us was broken, without her approval. I tried not to hurt her. But it was not easy. In fact, we broke this link several times, but not for too long. At least she does not think that I am tired of her. […] Why didn’t I reply to her recent letter? She called today and we will go skating tomorrow. […]

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Chapter 01 Brief Summary click
Chapter 02 Extracts From My First Notebook click
Chapter 03 Anya, Ika and Other Problems click
Chapter 04 Death of Our Leader click

Chapter 05 Last Years at Polytechnic click
Chapter 06 Beria was the Villain click
Chapter 07 Aftermaths of the 20th Congress click

Chapter 08 Warm Welcome in France click
Chapter 09 Communists Killing Communists Again click

Chapter 10 Fourth Year in Paris click
Chapter 11 Climbing Toward the Doctorate click
Chapter 12 The End of the Tunnel is Not Far click
Chapter 13 Back to Poland With the Doctorate click

Chapter 14 Missing Diaries click
Chapter 15 Year of Blessings click
Chapter 16 Appendix for questions and Comments click