A few years went by before a graduate student came knocking on Shimony's door. The student had just completed his qualifying exams and was scouting for a dissertation topic. Together they decided to mount a brand-new experiment to test Bell's theorem. Several months into their preparations, still far from a working experiment, Shimony spied Clauser's abstract in the Bulletin, and reached for the phone. They decided to meet at the upcoming American Physical Society meeting in Washington, D.C., where Clauser was scheduled to talk about his proposed experiment. There they hashed out a plan to join forces. A joint paper, Shimony felt, would no doubt be stronger than either of their separate efforts alone would be—the whole would be greater than the sum of its parts—and, on top of that, "it was the civilized way to handle the priority question." And so began a fruitful collaboration and a set of enduring friendships.
Clauser completed his dissertation not long after their meeting. He had some down time between handing in his thesis and the formal thesis defense, so he went up to Boston to work with Shimony and the (now two) graduate students whom Shimony had corralled onto the project. Together they derived a variation on Bell's theme: a new expression, more amenable to direct comparisons with laboratory data than Bell's had been. (Their equations concerned S, the particular combination of spin measurements examined in the previous chapter.) Even as his research began to hum, Clauser's employment prospects grew dim. He graduated just as the chasm between demand and supply for American physicists opened wide. He further hindered his chances by giving a few job talks on the subject of Bell's theorem. Clauser would later write with great passion that in those years, physicists who showed any interest in the foundations of quantum mechanics labored under a "stigma," as powerful and keenly felt as any wars of religion or McCarthy-like political purges.
Finally Berkeley's Charles Townes offered Clauser a postdoctoral position in astrophysics at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, on the strength of Clauser's dissertation on radio astronomy. Clauser, an avid sailer, planned to sail his boat from New York around the tip of Florida and into Galveston, Texas; then he would load the boat onto a truck and drive it to Los Angeles, before setting sail up the California coast to the San Francisco Bay Area. (A hurricane scuttled his plans; he and his boat got held up in Florida, and he wound up having to drive it clear across the country instead.) All the while, Clauser and Shimony hammered out their first joint article on Bell's theorem: each time Clauser sailed into a port along the East Coast, he would find a telephone and check in with Shimony, who had been working on a draft of their paper. Then Shimony would mail copies of the edited draft to every marina in the next city on Clauser's itinerary, "some of which I picked up," Clauser explained recently, "and some of which are probably still waiting there for all I know." Back and forth their edits flew, and by the time Clauser arrived in Berkeley in early August 1969, they had a draft ready to submit to the journal.
Things were slow at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory compared to the boom years, and budgets had already begun to shrink. Clauser managed to convince his faculty sponsor, Townes, that Bell's theorem might merit serious experimental study. Perhaps Townes, an inventor of the laser, was more receptive to Clauser's pitch than the others because Townes, too, had been told by the heavyweights of his era that his own novel idea flew in the face of quantum mechanics. Townes allowed Clauser to devote half his time to his pet project, not least because, as Clauser made clear, the experiments he envisioned would cost next to nothing. With the green light from Townes, Clauser began to scavenge spare parts from storage closets around the Berkeley lab—"I've gotten pretty good at dumpster diving," as he put it recently—and soon he had duct-taped together a contraption capable of measuring the correlated polarizations of pairs of photons. (Photons, like electrons, can exist in only one of two states; polarization, in this case, functions just like spin as far as Bell-type correlations are concerned.) In 1972, with the help of a graduate student loaned to him at Townes's urging, Clauser published the first experimental results on Bell's theorem. (Fig. 3.1.)