I worked on string theory over a period of five years during the ‘first string era’, the most intellectually satisfying years of my scientific life. One of the early prospectors in the string theory mine, I was fortunate enough to contribute to the birth of this subject, which retains after these many years, its magical hold on our imaginations and expectations.
I was born in Neuilly sur Seine, a suburb of Paris, where I attended Sainte Croix de Neuilly. After the ‘deuxième bachot’ in 1961, I decided to spend a year with my family in New Jersey, where my civil engineer father had been working for a company that designed and manufactured concrete pipes. I enrolled at the Newark College of Engineering (NCE); there, I found spectacular teachers, especially Dr Foster, and one year turned into four; I graduated in 1965 with a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering.
Always interested in physics, I had studied the subject on my own while at NCE. My application to Princeton graduate school in physics was rejected (and wait-listed at Yale). Fortunately, I had also applied to Syracuse University where Peter Bergmann was teaching. With the recommendations of Professors Henry Zatzkis (a student of Bergmann), Mauro Zambuto, and A. E. Foster, I was accepted, and soon afterwards, awarded a four-year fellowship.
I had wanted to study general relativity with Bergmann, but I was persuaded by Professor Alan McFarlane to switch to particle physics and join the group headed by E. C. G. Sudarshan.