Oral History Transcript — Dr. Arnold Perlmutter
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Arnold Perlmutter; April 9, 1999
ABSTRACT: Marietta Blau, associate professor at the University of Miami, 1955-60; Perlmutter's collaboration with Blau; photographic emulsions at the UM; Brookhaven National Laboratory, Blau's political ideas; Blau in post war Vienna. Also prominently mentioned are: Cecil Powel, Kursunoglou, Carter, Robertson (chairman of the physics department), Leon Trotsky, Leopold Halpern.
Rentetzi: I wanted to ask you when you met Blau, and where?
Perlmutter:Okay, to the best of my recollections, I came to Miami in February of 1956 to begin teaching here. I believe that she came in September. I believe that she — but here my memory is not very good, but I believe that she came in September of 1956. So that is when I met her.
Rentetzi: Okay. You mentioned in your article in Physics Today that you were in Brookhaven before that, if I am not wrong.
Perlmutter:No, she was.
Rentetzi: You werenít in Brookhaven.
Perlmutter:Not that, no.
Rentetzi: Okay, so you met Blau here in Miami. Do you know something about Brookhaven and why she came here? Why she left Brookhaven?
Perlmutter:No, she may have had some disagreements with people; maybe there was some personality conflicts. She was not happy there, but if she told me anything I do not remember. She had some very dear friends there. I believe she came in September, but I am not 100 percent sure; she could have come in January of 1957, but I donít think so. But I think she came in September.
Rentetzi: Did she ever mention something about Brookhaven?
Perlmutter:Oh, Brookhaven, okay, she was not happy, and I donít know if they were treating her right or if she had some falling out with some people. She had good friends there. I mean, in fact, in some of the letters, youíll see, she was very close to the Goldhaubas. Maurice Goldhaubas became, many years later the Director of Brookhaven, and the Gertrude Sharof-Goldhaubas. That was Mauriceís wife, also a very good physicist, both of them, excellent physicist. She was very close to Yuan; he is also mentioned in some of my letters. And C. S. Woo, a famous Chinese lady from Columbia she did the parody experiment; I donít know how familiar you are with that. But they were close friends of hers. I remember she mentioned Ralph Shutt, who was in charge of designing, or running the accelerator at Brookhaven in those days. She was friendly with Lindenbaugh.
Rentetzi: It sounds like she had friends.
Perlmutter:Oh, she had good friends there, but she also — I mean she was not happy in her work there. And I guess she was not totally healthy. I mean, when she left here, she was already felling she had to quit. Her heart was giving her trouble and her eyes, she had cataracts.
Rentetzi: Was that because of radioactivity or —?
Perlmutter:I donít know, I donít know. Cataracts, maybe, but you know that is a common ailment. She was certainly probably exposed a lot in her younger days. I mean, throughout her experimental times. But I think she died, I am not sure what she died of, do you know?
Perlmutter:1970, but of what? I donít know.
Rentetzi: I think she had a surgery on her eyes after that she went back to Vienna and died in 1970.
Perlmutter:Oh, okay. I think she wanted a change of climate; maybe she thought she would do better in this climate. It was probably good for her.
Rentetzi: How was it to work Brookhaven the time that she was there? Because Professor Halpern mentioned to me that it was very prestigious and it was very difficult to be accepted there, so?
Perlmutter:I didnít go there in those days. I didnít start going to Brookhaven until, the first time was 1964. I spent the summer there and I went back later on, on several meetings. Also I spent time working with Michigan through, into 1978, 1979, 1980, into the Ď80s, 1982-83. It was the center for high energy physics until Ferme Lab came along. But it is still a very good place. They are building a new machine there now, the heavy ion collider. So it was very prestigious. It was very, they did excellent work. They had the first multi-billion volt machine there called the Cosmitron, which was thought to have been a very terrible mistake. It was in the early and mid-1950s, because the energy didnít go high enough, but they had made it, it was a three GEV, if they had made it the six GEV like the Berkeley machine, they would have discovered anti-protons, so they missed out.
Rentetzi: Did Blau work on that?
Perlmutter:I really donít know what she was doing there. I donít have a bibliography of her. I donít know, I mean she was working with emulsion, and I believe that she always worked with emulsions. I later on gave up emulsions not long?after a couple of years, and I went to spark chambers and bubble chambers, but she always worked with emulsions. She really was a main, I mean Gallison writes about it so I donít have to tell you, but she was the main developer, the first to observe fast tracks, protons, motions.
Rentetzi: You mentioned before that she knew Goldhaubas, his wife. Do you know if there were any other women working with her at Brookhaven?
Perlmutter:She didnít work with Gertrude. Gertrude was a theorist, number one. She may have, I donít know if she worked with Maurice, either. She died [???] last year, I think. Maurice is in his Ď80s, old man, but he is still kicking. He could tell you a lot about her — they were close.
Rentetzi: Did she keep connections? Connections at Brookhaven when she came here?
Perlmutter:Well, when she came here, yes, we got some plates, some photographic plates from there, but not real close. I would say I canít remember seeing many Brookhaven people here.
Rentetzi: Who is Joseph Aushna? The British man that writes of the article in Physics Today where you write your own article?
Perlmutter:Oh, I donít remember, I donít know him.
Rentetzi: So you donít know him.
Perlmutter:But he had some relationship with her too, yes.
Rentetzi: [???] and then, did you know about him?
Perlmutter:Oh, yes. I forgot about him. A classmate of his motherís, yes. I had never met him. Drosk is a guy who is protecting Stetter and those people, and I donít know who he is. But the guy who wrote to me in addition to this Drosk is sort of taking up the Drosk case and he claims — and he says that Stetter had this discovered nuclear fission practically. Which is total nonsense. So I donít know who Drosk is, now.
Rentetzi: So, letís begin about Miami, when she came here.
Perlmutter:She came and she immediately started up this project. As you can see from that report, it ran from —
Rentetzi: She was already at her late 50s when she came here?
Rentetzi: Yes, 56.
Perlmutter:She was born in 1894?
Perlmutter:Yes, she was in her 50s, I guess. She was closer to 60 actually. So the project ran from February of 1957 to May of 1960.
Rentetzi: What was exactly the project about? Nuclear emulsion studies?
Perlmutter:That was the title. And they gave her free reign to do whatever she wanted, [???] in summary.
Rentetzi: Did you work on the motions before, oh, you started when she came...
Perlmutter:No, first with her, I mean, okay. We were, I was doing solid states physics, condensed matter physics and I actually did an experiment during the end of 1956 when I came and I finished that. But I found this as a fantastic opportunity when she asked if I would work with her in motions because I really liked particle physics and nuclear physics, so I switched fields completely. It was me; I think I mentioned these names in my e-mail. There was a guy called Hakim, and Hakim had some personal troubles and he worked for a while, but he didnít like it.
Rentetzi: You mean problems with Blau?
Personal problems. Well they ended up as problems with Blau, I think. I mean, he had personality problems. Drinking problems. Just personality problems. I liked him. He was a very — Actually we were quite good friends, but he just didnít — I donít know how long he stayed. Then we also had another guy called Clarence Rainwater who spent a little time, but he also didnít care for the work. It was tedious work, it was strange work. So, I was of the three — And then there was Carter, who was not really a research person; he sort of helped take care of technical things. He had never done any research in his life. He was teaching here. He did not have a Ph.D. A very nice man. She was very fond of him. He was very nice to her, he and his wife were very nice to her. So it was Carter and me. I always forget about him, I am a little ashamed to say. I shouldnít. He was very nice and very good.
Rentetzi: He is also one of your co-workers, in one of the —
Perlmutter:Yes, in all three of them. Sanford Block, the one who made his masters on this other paper, the one that reviews scientific instruments, was her student, our student, sort of, she was with — she gave him the whole idea and everything. He was a very capable boy, I mean, sort of had an engineering background more and he built this automatic track tippus [?] measurement, which was a very important parameter in measuring particles, masses, and charges, velocities. So, he did a nice thesis. A very nice thesis. We never really got to use the instrument much. The work was so tedious that anything you could do to automate it would be of great value. And there were other people trying to do the same kind things.
Is it [???] when you describe a monograph?
Rentetzi: Okay. Did you mention about this instrument, that one of the major things that you were concerned was about the observer and how it can be objective when he or she counts the calculations?
Rentetzi: I was thinking, who was the observer with the experiments that you did here? I mean, you and Blau did the work, or you had the —?
Perlmutter:We had assistance, we hired people. That is what some of the money went for, a lot of the money. We actually paid hourly rates to a couple housewives and a bunch of students, a bunch of students, I donít know if she mentioned — Oh, in the acknowledgements, I think, you will find the students names. Here there are no names. Except us three.
Rentetzi: Did you also have housewives, you say?
Perlmutter:Yes, or married people, intelligent. What I started to say is it is very tedious work, you had to look through this microscope and focus it all the time, they had these moving stages and you would follow along and track, and follow along [inaudible] and some interaction and you would follow along the tracks that came out. And you would try to measure the thickness. That would tell you something about the nature of the nucleus that is coming out, so that is how we tried to use that machine. But it is a very, you know, it is a sitting, and they had an eye strain problem. I did a lot, I did a tremendous amount of scanning and measuring. She could do some, and Claude Carter did quite a bit, but her eyes were just not so good and so she couldnít do much as she would she would have liked to have.
Rentetzi: You also say that you can use photo multipliers instead of observers as a way to have more accurate results?
Perlmutter:Well that is a whole different, there are many — I didnít say that, did I?
Rentetzi: I think it was in the article, that you can use photo multipliers in order to increase the accuracy of the instrument.
Perlmutter:[???] I mean, I donít — maybe Gallison.
Rentetzi: I think I read it in the article, but it doesnít matter.
Perlmutter:You mean in the — Oh! In the review of scientific [???]. Oh, I forgot about that. Yes, you could, instead of — if you want an objective count in darkness or lightness, that would be useful.
Rentetzi: Did she work on photo multipliers? I think that she did, Blau —
Perlmutter:I donít know, maybe.
Rentetzi: Where did you find the money for this project? [inaudible]
Perlmutter:They gave her the money. I forget how much she got, but it was enough. They paid for some of the salary, they paid for the trips out to Berkley, Chicago?
Rentetzi: Why did the US Air Force offer to pay for it?
Perlmutter:It was part of the aftermath of the War where they were funding a lot of research, what they called fundamental research. So it could have come from the Air Force, it could have come from the Navy. They were financing things like this, the National Science Foundation, from the Department of — various federal departments, cabinet departments. The Navy, the Air Force, the Army. When I made my thesis, it was the Army ordinance that financed it.
Rentetzi: How was it to work with her?
Perlmutter:She was — I tried not to — she had idealized the time, I think she was a little nervous, a very high strung person. She wanted things done just so. But she was also very kind. She was an excellent teacher. She taught me all this stuff. I was like a student with her, I wasnít even like a post-doc because I had to learn from scratch. And she was very nice to the students, we called them scanners, which did the scanning for us. Sometimes she would, if they made mistakes, horsing around, screwing around, not doing what they were supposed to, she would get cross with them a little bit. So, I donít think she was a difficult person, but she was not a pussycat. She just wasnít nice, nice, nice all the time. She and I philosophically, got along very well. We sort of had about the same political ideas. And she also introduced me — I liked music and she liked music very much, but she was very fond of chamber music, so she subscribed to have chamber music series that still goes on now all over the country, and she used to take me to that. She wasnít too comfortable driving, so she was happy if I could drive. But we were just very close. I mean, she was, became, in those couple of years, like a mother. My wife, my first wife, I am not married to her anymore, was very fond of her, and she was fond of us, and we were just together a lot of time. We would get together, she would cook for us, I would cook for her. Like we were very socially attuned.
Rentetzi: So she was open and she was — because the picture I have of her is that she was a very closed person, a lonely person, but it seems that she was much —
Perlmutter:She was a very good conversationalist. She was very modest; I mean she was not a self-promoter or anything like that. She was lonely. I mean she was never married. I have a feeling that there was, but I have no idea, that there was in her youth a great disappointment, well, a thwarted love affair, but I really do not know. She never talked too much about it, rather occasionally. I cannot remember much about her parents, her brother. She had a nephew, I think, in New York somewhere.
Rentetzi: I was going to ask about this, about her family, do you know something about them? And, if she had any connection with her family when she came here?
Perlmutter:I donít know.
Rentetzi: There probably was.
Perlmutter:Well, it was in Vienna or Switzerland.
Rentetzi: I am not sure, I think that they were in Switzerland.
Perlmutter:Switzerland. That was in one of the letters that she writes, she was with them in Switzerland. I donít know about other — When she came, I mean, Louis Glazer may be able to tell you some things about people she knew in Mexico. She knew Leon Trotsky, and she knew the guy that killed him. This was in 1940. And she knew this young man was crazy and she tried to warn Trotsky against him. And she had a few good, close friends. There was another very well-known physicist who taught in Pennsylvania, Peter Havas. So she used to visit with him. I never, I think met him once, I donít know.
Rentetzi: You mentioned before about her political ideas and that you were close and I know that when she was in Mexico, they didnít renew the contract with the university because of political reasons. This is what I found in Rockefeller Foundation, there is a letter about it. Now you mention that she knew Trotsky, I didnít know that. Do you know more about this?
Perlmutter:I was in my youth, I was very left wing. Iím still a liberal, but back when I knew her I was, you know, still sort of a Socialist leaning person. But I called her a social democrat; I think I would be about the same. So we had pretty much agreement on American politics and world politics but I never heard her —
Rentetzi: Was she ever active in politics?
Perlmutter:I donít think so. I was active. I did some active things. But actually, after that time, I didnít have any [???] in those days, after I got [???]. So became [???].
Rentetzi: Was she faculty member? Because now you mentioned about tenure.
Perlmutter:I donít think she was, but I think she might not have had tenure. She might have been too old, she might have been — This is something that Robertson could tell you, because she was a chairman. She didnít get on too well with Robertson, in spite of the fact that you say he was very nice to her. He made life miserable with his project. He tried to get too much overhead from her; he wouldnít let her do certain things. I wish I — I donít have a good memory. I really canít tell you. My friend, Kuschonovlo with whom I have been close since that time. And he is now retired. But we had together a Center of Theoretical Studies here for many years, and when he retired we folded them. But I still work with him. He is a colleague I work with. And he thought that Robertson — Robertson was a very strange guy. He would bring people here Hakim, him and me and Blau, and then he would sort of turn on you. Maybe it was jealousy of some kind. He was a very smart guy, Robertson. For example, Kuschonovlo was fond of telling this story that he remembers that he was saying to Blau that Harry is an idiot, and she said, ďIs the worst you could say about him?Ē You know, she was very gentle with her speaking — very slow and very quiet so, he said, is that the worst that you can say about him? She said that man, he is, I think I remember her saying he is trying to kill me, this is not good. So, you might — Iím sure he has a different view of things, but he was not very helpful. So, we had other people like that, you know, he brought them here and, especially if they were foreigners or Jews, I think they ran afoul of him.
Rentetzi: So, how did Blau come here if she was —
Perlmutter:Well, he brought her in. She was recommended by somebody, I donít know who but he brought these people in to work, there was another guy from Australia, John Ward who is world famous, a grand physicist, and he was here for a couple of years. But he made life miserable for him, so I donít know. Hakim, he tried to have him deported.
Rentetzi: Kuschonovlo did also work with Blau or he was with —?
Perlmutter:No, he works by himself, but he and I have, we had these famous conferences, you probably donít know about them, Paul gave those conferences. We still have them now, but for 20 years they were very famous. We had the [???], Hitler, Heller, Oppenheimer, they all came here, Gellman. I donít know how many of these names you know, though.
Rentetzi: It was later —
Perlmutter:We didnít start that until 1964 and that lasted into the 1980s.
Rentetzi: Actually, because we were discussing about Robertson, in one of his [???] mentioned to me about Blau. He says that she was strongly opinionated although she was not aggressive but about a certain of her opinions and he gives an example. She was insisting that radioactivity was mildly damaging, and she saw no way it didnít damage a lot, and she never wanted to take any precautions in doing her experiments. Do you remember any of this?
Perlmutter:It never came up with us. Because when we had those plates, the radioactivity was at the machine. We never had to protect ourselves against radiation. It could well be that she believed that. I donít know. That is a curious remark that he makes, because yes, she was opinionated. But she was very well educated. She knew a lot, she understood a lot. You know, it is not as though she was just a hack in a laboratory. I mean, she really, I mean, made tremendous discoveries in emulsions, and she understood physics. She had a global view of things, but yes, opinionated. But like I said, I mean we probably had some disagreements about things, though she was sometimes angry — Iím a little bit irresponsible and I waste time and if I didnít do what I was supposed to do by a certain time, she would get annoyed and sort of scold me and stuff like that. But you know, again, you romanticize in time and you try to maybe wash out the negatives and make everything rosy and nice. But I canít talk about anybody, any old person, as I do about her. Letís put it that way. As I said in my letter, I am grateful because she changed my life. After that, I met people at work and through her, and then my whole world changed. I have now a whole different set of associations and friends, some of them started with her, but most of them came afterwards. I am indebted to her.
Rentetzi: Why were emulsions at that time important?
Perlmutter:Well, they were coming to the end. It was beginning of the bubble chamber time. Emulsions had some advantages in that for certain measurements, even now but very specialized ones, emulsions can beat other detectors. Okay, there is a whole — I mean Gallison goes into this I am sure a lot. But first of all, the disadvantage of emulsion is that you have to leave it in the beam for a long time, so you get integrated over, letís say hours or even days. In fact, they leave them for weeks in the mountains, you know, to do cosmic rays. So you have stuff that you donít know when it came, all you have is a vets [?]. The great advantage of the bubble chamber and spark chamber, even cloud chamber, although some of them have advantages over the others for different reasons, is that you take a picture and that in that short distance of time the film photographing the chamber shows you what happened, so you donít have to unravel things and they are easier to scan. You project the pictures so you can look at the pictures the size of this wall and you can see tracks and make very good measurements. The advantage of emulsion — okay, the advantage of bubble chambers and cloud chambers is that you could use pure hydrogen. You could use in other words, your targets are protons. In emulsion, targets are not only protons, letís say from water, water molecules and stuff, but other free protons or nearly free protons around, but also there are nuclei. So you have mixed in, you have to extract, you want to look at protons, interactions with protons, you have to look carefully at each thing coming in, whatever it is you are bombarding with, whether it is ions, aeons, or anti-protons, or protons, and you have to make sure if you want to look at nuclear interaction, that is one thing, so it interacts — emulsions have silver and bromide, pretty heavy duty [???] those things. But you can produce certain reactions that you canít produce very easily in bubble chambers, unless you use very special kind of bubble chambers. You can produce what you call hyper fragments, which are hyperons, you know they are a kind of heavy particle that attach to the nuclei, hyperon attach to the helium, I mean a lambda hyperon attached to the helium or the beryllium or the carbon, and those things were discovered in emulsions. Emulsions have the primary advantage is that you are looking at tiny, tiny grains, which are about a micron in size. The bubbles, in bubble chamber, if you were in a sparks, are much larger, in the order of millimeters. So here, you are really looking at very fine, you can measure small distance, if something decays over a small distance, you can see it very clearly. I mean, the analysis of emulsions is very tedious. It is very difficult. You canít project these things easily onto the wall, you have to sit there with your eyes.
Rentetzi: You mentioned before that emulsions were at the end?
Perlmutter:Emulsions, I was pretty much — I worked for a few more years on emulsions. But all the things that emulsions tried to do, like what we did in this ion scattering experiment, we have done much better in a very short time in bubble chambers and then in spark chambers. Because the data could be accumulated much more quickly, and then you take a picture. In fact, you could even trigger a picture. So the point is that eventually people even made hyper fragments in bubble chambers because they made the use of heavy fluids like xenon and antifreeze in the carbon bubble chambers. And spark chambers even had an advantage over bubble chambers because you could actually trigger the picture to be taken of the spark chamber only when you satisfied certain criteria. So that it was certain tracks coming out in certain directions, you can trigger the photograph or the recording of the data. Actually, after a while there was no photograph, they just digitized it. Well this meant, and especially in more modern experiments when youíre looking for a needle in a haystack, looking for the w particle or the z particle, if youíre looking for a fast electron or a fast neuron and you have to take millions of pictures, to get maybe one event, unless you trigger it on some property of the even that allows you to reduce the amount of useless film that you have in emulsion. So in other words there is a lot of noise, a lot of debris, and what you want to do is minimize the amount of debris and maximize the amount of information that you get. So a lot of experiments could never be done anymore with emulsion. I mean, in principle, maybe, but you would have to live to be a billion years old to achieve anything.
Rentetzi: What about the role of Powell? Because you also mentioned Powell.
Perlmutter:Yes, Powell, I donít know how she connected to Powell, but I remember her telling me that basically she taught Powell everything he knew about emulsion. She was the one that, I mean, there was some writing about Powell recently I read somewhere, maybe in the Gallison book too. But I donít know. She must have known him in the 1930s, you know, when she was in Vienna. When she was doing her experiments and she claims that she taught him all that she knew about the technique. In fact, she was the one who went to Ilfrid and got Ilfrid to make the emulsions the way they would sort of be sensitive to [???] tracks. It is like a black art, you have to mysterious things, and sometimes counter-intuitive. Actually I must say I know very, nearly nothing about the technical side of making prepared emulsions. But she was very helpful. She was the cutting edge. So somehow she got both Kodak and Ilfrid to start making heat sensitive emulsions, but Ilfrid was the better one. And so how she got this to Powell I donít know. I don't know what was the nature of their connection, of their relationship.
Rentetzi: I was going to ask about this because I think you are the only one, you mentioned that she knew Powell and that she told Powell about emulsion.
I am taking her word for it. I have no independent evidence. [Tape off for moment] I want no condolence letter, how sad she was. She was a very giving. We felt like family in those three years or so, those three or four years we became family.
Rentetzi: You met in Vienna?
Perlmutter:I went in 1962; we finished our paper, the one which I gave you before the reprint, not that one, but the other one. So we finished — we hadnít finished it, I so we sent it in in July of 1962.
Rentetzi: But she left from here?
Perlmutter:April, 1960, so for two years, she was very upset, angry at me.
Rentetzi: Because you were late?
Perlmutter:Yes, I was late, and it was not a very good paper. It was long; we put a lot of different things together. It was not a satisfactory paper, but we had to do something, work formula.
Rentetzi: Was that part of the same project?
Perlmutter:Yes, emulsion study.
Rentetzi: I have a question; you mentioned in this paper, it is on this page —
Perlmutter:The nucleon resonance. That is in the paper that I copied to you.
Rentetzi: Yes, and you say that you were frustrated but —
Perlmutter:I was, too. We didnít have enough events. I mean this was enough. It does make it for just one collision, you have to have many. Let me show you. I was just looking at that earlier today at breakfast, actually. Yes, it says we only have this many collisions, you know, 21, 26 here. There were not free proton collisions. In other words, this is not considered good statistics and we were trying to identify something that in the next year or two was pretty well established with bubble chambers and then later with spark chambers that the resonance — then they didnít call it resonance, it was called the isobar. And it was actually the proton and the pi minus come off it together, and then they decay. So you could see this from the energetics. They shoot kind of off from — they should have a certain mass and we tried to identify that, but we were calculating the so-called ďqĒ value and we didnít have enough events. It was a relatively small stat.
Rentetzi: So, it wasnít that you didnít have the studies to [???] with and do [???], but it was that you didnít have enough —
Perlmutter:When I say statistics, I might be a little misleading. Poor statistics just means that we didnít have enough. Later on, of course, when other experiments were done so that it is called a delta resonance, and there are four combinations of nucleon, which is proton, neutron, and pi mezon, so you can have a minus one, and neutral one, a plus one, and a plus plus one. That is a proton and an [???] together, and a proton and a pi minus together, and they make this short lived state. It is called a resonance, but in those days, it was called isobar. So in the letter I wrote, I called it resonance, but that is modern terminology.
Rentetzi: My other question is about Vienna, because you mentioned that you went to see her in 1962, so you went just to see her and to finish the paper?
Perlmutter:Yes, I went with my wife and child, my oldest son.
Rentetzi: How was she then?
Perlmutter:She was I canít remember too well, she was weak, she was tired, she was not strong.
Rentetzi: Did she have any job at the time, in Vienna?
Perlmutter:Well, she was at the Institute for Radium for a portion, the Radium Institute, and she was paid very little. If you look at the Schwartinger book, it says that he got her some money from something called the Schwartinger prize, but she had no real income. I mean, they gave her a small pension, but I donít know any details. Iíll give you — in fact let me give you that e-mail from that other guy who says that nobody got treated very well. He was saying that she was not singled out in being mistreated.
Rentetzi: Did she ever complain about that? Or did she ever mention something about —
Perlmutter:She has no money; they donít give her much money to live.
Rentetzi: Did she ever mention names and who was mistreating her?
Perlmutter:Well, these names are all new to me, this Stetter I didnít know anything about, and Drosk I donít know anything about. She mentioned only Wambacher, who was her associate during those several very good years, who was her student. And then of course, I mean Gallison said that when she left Vienna, Wambacher inherited the whole operation. But, I mean, her complaint was that they — I remember her talking about all the pro-Nazis were in the driverís seat in Vienna after the War when she was there, and they were not nice to her; they just were not nice. As I said in my letter, Schwartinger and [???] as father and son. Hans Gering and Walter Gering were nice to her, but the others were all, the others were very — Vienna is a very nasty place, very nasty. I felt it. I remember when we checked into a hotel, I said something, I wasnít going to hide that Iím Jewish, my name is probably typically so. And I said something about being Jewish, my wife said then I shouldnít have said it, but then, there was a clerk who was working there who whispered that I shouldnít say that, Iím Jewish and they donít know and there are very mean people here.
Rentetzi: Even in 1962 then?
Perlmutter:Yes, itís always been true and they deny it. They say, oh, we love everybody, we love the Jews.
Rentetzi: This is what it comes from the other letters in Physics Today that they were nice to Jewish people, this comes from the other letters in Physics Today in answer made from Blau and Drosk.
Perlmutter:Drosk. Well, he didnít say that.
Rentetzi: It seems that there is a conflict here, I mean they —
Perlmutter:No, he is not saying that they were nice to Jews, no.
No, not here, but [???]. When you were speaking about Wambacher, how did she speak about her?
Perlmutter:She said that she was a very good scientist, I think, and they did good work together. But I donít — perhaps she was a Nazi or Nazi sympathizer. That is all I can remember about her.
Rentetzi: Did she mention specifically then, did she ever mention the confiscation of a notebook the time —
Perlmutter:You see, I didnít know that until I read it in Gallison. I didnít know this, she may have told me and as I say, I donít have a very good memory. Sorry, I mean, in that sense I feel I am letting you down. I wish I could remember more.
Rentetzi: Do you know if she had any notebooks when she was here?
Perlmutter:She must have taken them with her. I donít know, maybe. I am sure that she did but [???]. She wrote, she actually wrote a long article in a book on experimental techniques while she was here.
Rentetzi: About emulsion?
Perlmutter:About emulsion. You know that one?
Rentetzi: Yes, I know this work.
Perlmutter:She was writing and working continuously, so I donít know if she actually shipped all that stuff to Vienna or not. But she was always writing, and you will see in those letters she was looking for work to do, she was not able to do anything experimental, but she was looking to do some computation or something like that. She was always looking. I presume she kept notes, but the only person that I would probably know it would be her brother if he survived her, I donít know that he did. Otto Blau, right?
Rentetzi: I donít know his name. I donít have any other question, but, do you want to say something?
Perlmutter:No. Just I think I told you, about the Trotsky business I canít say; I just donít know. I mean, I donít know the closeness of the connection between them.
Rentetzi: Did she mention to you that she knew Trotsky and she knew the person that killed Trotsky? And she was trying to —
Perlmutter:Yes, warn him, and he was ignoring it.
Rentetzi: So it seems that they had a close relationship.
Perlmutter:Well, they were friendly, I guess, I donít know how friendly, but they were friendly. I mean, you mentioned this thing that she the project was rejected?
Rentetzi: They didnít renew her contract with Polytechnic when she was there. It seems that it was because of political reasons.
Perlmutter:You know, but I donít know. I mean, I thought that was — Well she was there in 1944, I think, so I donít know. Well maybe, maybe. But I donít think she was active. Maybe they didnít like who she hung out with. Like my friend Leopold was saying the other day about me, he said, you know, you talk about Jewish communists as though there is any other kind of communist. Most communists were Jews. How many, Iím not sure, but many communists were Jews. So, I donít know, prejudice.
Rentetzi: It was pretty tough, I guess?
Perlmutter:Very tough, well, my wife was just listening, I didnít hear it on the MPR this morning, there is a story about people, some Jews working for the CIA who have been persecuted because they, a lot of anti-Semitism in the CIA. They are accusing, they are saying if you are a Jew, if you have any connection at all to Israel, you are like a double agent, you have dual loyalties.
So, when Blau was here, you said that maybe one of reasons that she was mistreated in a way, but not exactly, was [???], was because she was Jewish.
Perlmutter:Oh, Harry, yes, he could have. I mean he was — as I said, it was not just Jewish, I mean, he didnít like foreigners. I mean he was really [???]. Hakim, and Kuschonovlo, and Blau, and Ward, the Australian. He was not nice to any of them. So I wouldnít single her out, the Jewish thing. I mean, I know he tolerated me, but I was never very fond of him. We were not fond of each other. My wife thinks he is terrible.
Rentetzi: Okay, thank you very much, thank you for spending your time —
Perlmutter:No, problem. I will do my utmost to find that photograph and send it to you.
Rentetzi: Thank you.