Oral History Transcript — Dr. Harold Weaver
This transcript may not be quoted, reproduced or redistributed in whole or in part by any means except with the written permission of the American Institute of Physics.
This transcript is based on a tape-recorded interview deposited at the Center for History of Physics of the American Institute of Physics. The AIP's interviews have generally been transcribed from tape, edited by the interviewer for clarity, and then further edited by the interviewee. If this interview is important to you, you should consult earlier versions of the transcript or listen to the original tape. For many interviews, the AIP retains substantial files with further information about the interviewee and the interview itself. Please contact us for information about accessing these materials.
Please bear in mind that: 1) This material is a transcript of the spoken word rather than a literary product; 2) An interview must be read with the awareness that different people's memories about an event will often differ, and that memories can change with time for many reasons including subsequent experiences, interactions with others, and one's feelings about an event. Disclaimer: This transcript was scanned from a typescript, introducing occasional spelling errors. The original typescript is available.
See the catalog record for this interview and search for other interviews in our collection
Interview with Dr. Harold Weaver
Harold Weaver; July 20, 1977
ABSTRACT: In this interview Harold Weaver discusses topics such as: family background and his childhood; becoming interested in astronomy; visiting Lowell Observatory and Mt. Wilson Observatory; star clusters, spiral nebulae, and binary stars; his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley); working at the student observatory and wishing to do photography of nebulae with the telescope; C. D. Shane; Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP); Robert Trumpler; Walter Baade; Yerkes Observatory; Gerard Kuiper; Edwin Hubble; photometry; interest in spiral structures; Nicholas Mayall; stellar populations; Adriaan van Maanan; Rudolph Minkowski; W. S. Adams; galactic structure; working with the Schmidt telescope at Palomar Observatory; William W. Morgan; S. Chandrasekhar; work at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with Theodore Dunham in optics for the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC); move to the Radiation Laboratory at UC Berkeley; Otto Struve; International Astronomical Union (IAU); interests in radio astronomy; Ronald Bracewell; Office of Naval Research (ONR) funding; National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO); Lick Observatory; Jan Oort; galactic supernovae.
TranscriptSession I | Session II
DeVorkin:I know from your biographical sketch in AMERICAN MEN OF SCIENCE that you were born in San Jose, 1917.
DeVorkin:I would like to start by expanding on that period of time — the early influences upon you, the background of your family, your fatherís occupation, your motherís background and occupation.
Weaver:My fatherís occupation was that of a store owner, a merchant. He had come from New York State, where the family had been established for a very long time. In fact, I think it goes back to Revolutionary War times. He was in the Lake George area, Lake George, N.Y., and because of the ill health of my grandfather, all of the family moved to California. Various different businesses were started. My father had a modest food store. So it was a commercial occupation that they followed. There were stores in San Jose, for the longest period. Afterwards, there were stores in other towns, particularly later, at the time I was in high school; he had a place in Carmel. And so at that time, I think Carmel also influenced me in a significant way, but thatís a later part of the story.
DeVorkin:Your fatherís name?
Weaver:My fatherís name is Charles Edward, (Weaver). My motherís family has a much shorter period in the United States. Her parents came as young adults with one of the great Swedish migration and ended up in Minnesota, where they did farming. They too, in order to lead a better life and have a greater opportunity, moved to California, to the San Joaquin Valley, in the area of Turlock, where they had a ranch, and where my grandfather, who was a very skilled craftsman (my maternal grandfather), did carpentry. He did a great deal of the sort of special finishing work in buildings around that area. And also at one time, I remember, he came into the San Jose area and did some special finishing of buildings there. So I always remember him as a craftsman, and as a farmer.
DeVorkin:And your motherís maiden name?
Weaver:Wymar — Signe, (Cecelia) was her first name. Iíve always considered it interesting that that name has undergone a number of changes in spelling, and even different members of the family spell it differently. It was an adopted name, since I think the proper name was, like most Scandinavians, Anderson at the time, but they adopted the name Wymar when they came to the United States
DeVorkin:Anderson, you say?
Weaver:I think, yes, Anderson. And Wymar was spelled in different ways. One branch of the family spelled it ďWymarĒ and another branch of the family ďWejmar.Ē So I always thought you had to know which relative you were writing a letter to, to spell the name.
DeVorkin:Thatís interesting. What are your first recollections of home life? Was it primarily San Jose?
Weaver:It was primarily San Jose, with moderately frequent visits to the San Joaquin Valley to see members of the family there. I think it was an extremely happy, pleasant family life. There are really no unpleasant memories that I have. I think I had very devoted parent. I was an only child with very devoted parents, who were very happy to do anything that they could that would further me or permit me to do the things I enjoyed doing. I remember from very earliest childhood, having a great many hobbies, in building things and mechanical toys, and all sorts of things of this sort, which they would supply in great quantity as I needed them.
DeVorkin:Unbidden gifts, or did you usually pick your own directions?
Weaver:It was really both. I often chose my own direction, in the sorts of things that I got interested in. I certainly had a great deal of freedom of choosing things, and of doing the sorts of things that interested me. As I remember, they were mechanical things — steam engines and airplanes — which I was very much involved with. I guess I might well have gone into aeronautical engineering, in some ways. It interested me very much. As I remember, from age perhaps 10 on, I used to build flying model airplanes. I built and designed scads of them, and thereís a whole flock of silver cups that I won, somewhere in the cupboard at home. There were rubber band models.
DeVorkin:They didnít have any with the little engines at that time?
Weaver:No, that was before the time of those things. And the great thing was duration. I participated in a number of state-wide contests for duration of f1ight. Several times I went to different areas to participate in those contests. I taught model airplane construction for a while in the Hale Brothers Store in San Jose — that was the center of activity for model airplane construction.
DeVorkin:How old were you then?
Weaver:Oh, as I remember, 11 or 12 years old.
DeVorkin:You taught at that age?
Weaver:I taught it at that time and they paid me. It was great. I used to get a $5 gold piece for each Saturday that I worked for them. That was a great thing. I could save those things up, and spend them for all kinds of things, in those days.
DeVorkin:This was in the latter part of the Depression?
Weaver:If I was 13 it would be 1930, the early part of the Depression. That was a lot of money at that time.
DeVorkin:Could you tell me the name of your fatherís stores?
Weaver:The name that sticks with me, it seems to me, is Liberty Bell. Liberty Bell Market, as I remember.
DeVorkin:Ok. We can put that down for future reference. Your interest in aeronautics is fascinating. Itís something possibly we can follow up. Just from the record now, how long did you maintain active interest in model airplanes?
Weaver:Oh, for quite a few years. In fact, I remember, even in junior high school, still building model airplanes to some extent, and designing one that I thought that I should produce in quantity for Christmas sales, one time. I had something that I wanted to buy, and so I thought the thing to do was make a bunch of models. It was all designed and there were models tested, even to the extent, as I remember, of designing a box to pack it in, so it was a sort of complete operation at the time.
DeVorkin:Was there any awareness at that time in modeling that there possibility with gas-powered planes, that they would also be radio controlled at some time?
Weaver:Well, it had been talked about, and certainly I had read about such things, in a generalized way. And while there certainly were large sized models, I never built terribly 1arge ones, never more than a few feet in size. There were some very large ones for which there was a sort of primitive, small-scale gasoline-powered engine, but I never did become involved with those. I didnít do any of that.
DeVorkin:Not only gas powered but radio controlled?
Weaver:Radio controlled. I canít say at this time that I remember ever thinking about that very seriously.
DeVorkin:Ok. You mentioned you were an only child?
DeVorkin:And you also mentioned that of course your parents were very generous with you. How generous was your father with his time? Was he very busy with his work?
Weaver:Yes, he was busy with his work, but he was very generous with his time, and I think his interests were rather different, than mine. He was, for example, very much interested in sports, and I never was. I think that probably was or may have been a disappointment to him, but it didnít in any way detract from a very close relationship that remained right up until the day of his death.
DeVorkin:When was that?
Weaver:Oh, letís see, that must have been 15 years ago. I could reconstruct it, because he was 70 years old when he died, and Iíd have to reconstruct the date. Youíll find Iím terribly poor on dates. I may tell you all the numbers in the galaxy, but I canít remember any dates.
DeVorkin:But the important thing of course is that he was alive all through your childhood.
Weaver:Oh yes, all through my childhood, and well through the lives of my children. Yes, up until fairly recently he was alive.
DeVorkin:Was he seriously affected; his economic position, by the Depression?
Weaver:Yes, it hurt the family rather severely, and in fact, he really did lose the main store that he had, and for a while he did other smaller things. I remember, for a while at that time, he operated a gasoline station. It was really a very serious affair for the family during that Depression era. My mother worked and they did a variety of things to remain alive. It was a very hard time for them.
DeVorkin:What did your mother do?
Weaver:She worked in a store. She was in a dry goods store.
DeVorkin:Ok. Your education, was it always in public school?
Weaver:It was always in public school, and I think I was extremely fortunate in many ways, in that had frequently had very, very good teachers, and maintained very close relationship with them. That is, they always seemed Interested, and I was always interested too. Many of them, I think, exercised very strong influences on my life, in a variety of ways.
DeVorkin:I certainly would like to have you recall which teachers you felt were most significant in your life career choices.
Weaver:My career choices have been several, and thereís been a variety of choices. And in part, I think these may well have been influenced by some of the teachers I had, whom I respected very much as individuals. I should preface this by saying, again, I always did lots of things with my hands, lots of work of a variety of kinds, and I did a good deal of art work; drawing, painting. I never did much sculpture but lots of drawing and painting. And one of the teachers that I became acquainted with was in junior high school. Her name was Mrs. Preon. I had several art courses from her, mechanical drawing courses from her and things of that sort, and she became quite interested in the things that I did, and that interest and association really remained until her death. She always took a great deal of interest in me and in my family, and became quite good friends with my mother-in-law, finally, and they were very close companions for a number of years. Mrs. Preon remarried and became Mrs. Emery. I think she did influence me a great deal. She certainly helped in giving me an appreciation for art and such things. She often took me to museums in San Francisco. She was quite well acquainted with things, had had a long established family in the San Jose area. She had gone to Stanford. She many times took me and some of the other students to concerts at Stanford and to museums in San Francisco.
DeVorkin:These were group things?
Weaver:Sometimes group and sometimes otherwise.
Weaver:Individual. During the Depression, she did something that Iíll always remember. She helped one of her own classmates, who was an excellent musician in San Francisco, by having her give me violin lessons and paying for it herself. She paid for this friend of hers to come from San Francisco to San Jose to give me a violin lesson once a week.
Weaver:Mrs. Emery supported all of that, including giving me her own violin, which I still have.
DeVorkin:Now this was junior high school?
Weaver:Junior high school and high school, because she went from the junior high school to the high school, at just about the same time I did. It was a coincidence. So it continued, and the friendship continued and the close relationship continued all through the high school period too, and there I had several art courses from her. She was really a great influence on my life, in many ways, I think.
DeVorkin:Considering your violin, had you been experienced with violin before this?
Weaver:No, through the family, Iíd taken piano and trumpet, so I was acquainted with music and everybody played instruments, in the family. The violin continued for several years. I certainly donít play it well but I still appreciate it and enjoy it.
DeVorkin:Did you ever consider music or art as a career?
Weaver:No, never music or art.
DeVorkin:Let me ask about the mechanical drawing. How far did she take you in mechanical drawing? Did you actually design in projection various types of equipment?
Weaver:Yes. Through her, and then through another teacher who had more advanced courses. That would have been the first year of high school. And so, yes, I did a great deal of mechanical drawing, and I think itís been a great help to me always. I can talk to the engineers very easily.
DeVorkin:What kind of direction did the mechanical drawing classes give you? Were you ever allowed to choose your own subjects?
Weaver:Yes, at later times, after one sort of gained experience in the fundamentals of projection and all that. The projects got more and more complicated — complicated gear trains that had to be designed, and then drawn actually in perspective. It was a good exercise.
DeVorkin:Do you recall what exercises you chose yourself?
Weaver:Thatís pushing a bit. I seem to remember interest in gear trains and sorts of interconnections of devices of this sort, that sort of thing, as I remember.
DeVorkin:Somewhere along the line, I imagine you developed an interest in astronomy.
Weaver:Yes, although itís a little hard to trace, in some ways. I think the first bit of it goes back to a time when probably I wasnít more than maybe seven or eight years old, sometime in that period. Some of the older guys around the place had a telescope and I still remember with extreme pleasure getting to use that telescope, for looking at the moon.
DeVorkin:These were neighbors?
Weaver:These were neighbors; just the neighborhood kids. And that certain did, I think, influence me very deeply. It interested me very much. I did reading. I always had a lot of books and things, and I remember getting a good many books on astronomy after that and reading. Then the interest sort of died out for a while. There were these other things that were more immediate for me of an artistic sort and things of that kind that sort of pushed out the interest in astronomy, as such. Interest in astronomy was then rekindled in high school. Some science courses and particularly association with some friends; a couple of other guys in school who were interested in astronomy and who very much rekindled my own Interest in astronomy at that time.
DeVorkin:Iíll ask you first if you recall some of the books you read, and then, the associations that you had in high school that rekindled your interest. And possibly if you can a little more on what caused your interest to wane during the interim.
Weaver:First, the books. Iíll mention some books, and then Iíll mention a radio program that existed at that time. Some books that I remember were the Astronomical Society of the Pacific volumes. I remember all the old Leaflets of the ASP. And in fact, I remember from about that time having the first issues of them. And some big picture books on astronomy that had lots of astronomical things in them, but I canít really remember the name of that book. But I remember some fairly large books that had lots of pictures in them.
DeVorkin:Were they star chart books basically?
Weaver:No, they were not star charts. They would he more intermediate between an encyclopedia, and a coffee table book on astronomy. Some of the things that Hoyle has done, you know. Thereís one book — Lucien-Radoux that was redone by G. De Vaucouleurs, and Fred Whipple wrote the foreword, as I remember. These are of course modem things, but thatís the type of book — lots of big pictures in them, the motions of the earth, the usual sorts of things about the solar system, and the scale of sizes that was always stressed in those things.
DeVorkin:So you didnít have too much contact with actual visual astronomy?
Weaver:No I didnít. Oh, I learned the constellations, but that was sort of semi-automatic. But no, I did not have very much contact. A few visits to the Lick Observatory that I remember, both with my own family, and with my aunt and uncle who lived in San Jose and with whom I was almost like kind of a second son. They were my second family — they never had children, so was sort of their son as well as my parentsí son.
DeVorkin:What was their background?
Weaver:Well, it was my fatherís sisters, so it was the same background there.
DeVorkin:I mean what they did, occupation, that sort of thing.
Weaver:Oh, my uncle ran a wholesale gasoline distribution service in San Jose. He became fairly successful there.
DeVorkin:How did you find out about the LEAFLETS of the ASP?
Weaver:The library and the bookstore. I loved books and I knew all the bookstores in San Jose and the library extremely well, from earliest times.
DeVorkin:Had you had any contact with Santa Clara College, where they had a small observatory?
Weaver:Yes, at a later time. That was the place where I took my first astronomical photograph.
DeVorkin:Could you expand upon why your astronomical interests waned.
Weaver:Oh, yes. Well, itís a little hard to say. Iíve really never thought about it. I guess itís that lots of other things pressed in upon it. There wasnít a very strong way to keep it going, in the sense that, I did some reading and things like that, but there was no one there in the field of astronomy to provide the impetus for me to continue. And, on the other hand, there were lots of other interests that were crowding in all around.
DeVorkin:There was the influence of your art teacher.
Weaver:The art teacher, and then some other teachers, and my family. I got very interested in geology for a while, and mineralogy. I still remember that on weekends my parents would take me out. To some place in the Santa Clara Valley region and we would go out on the weekend and do geology.
DeVorkin:With your parents?
Weaver:With my parents, and they would take me to wherever I would locate some new type of specimens, from reading in the books — the State Geological Survey books I came to know quite well — and all kinds of things of this sort. For a long time, I had many interests and a very large collection of rocks and things. I guess it was a general interest in science, but it wasnít specifically astronomy, at that time.
DeVorkin:Ok. Did your parents support any one aspect of your interests, more than others?
Weaver:No, they were really very supportive and wonderful about that. I think they would have supported any interest that I wanted. They were extremely good about that. And for a while, when I thought that didnít want to go into science at all, they supported me just as well in artistic endeavors. Not painting and art. Youíll think Iím nutty with so many different interests, but for a while, I was very much interested in literature. I took a year off, between high school and college, to decide what I wanted to do.
DeVorkin:That is quite interesting.
Weaver:That was a period when I did all kinds of things, in science and literature, and got to know some of the people in Carmel and so on.
DeVorkin:Letís talk about your rekindled interests in high school?
Weaver:Yes. Certainly I was again extremely fortunate, and I havenít talked about some of the teachers at all. There was one who was the head of the science department, and was extremely good, in fostering interest on the part of his students. So I had chemistry from him and physics from him in different years, and he got me involved in all kinds of things — understanding more fundamentally, hopefully, some of the physical laws. And that certainly did rekindle my interest in astronomy. I also had at that time, I felt, extremely good mathematics teachers — several of them — one of whom, from whom I had geometry, encouraged me a great deal to go ahead, and so I did all kinds of special projects for her; all kinds of geometrical proofs and things. It was a wonderful time, as I think about it, in just the enormous number of things to do, and all the interests that were there.
DeVorkin:Do you recall her name?
Weaver:Yes, Miss Nichols was the teacher in mathematics. She retired and moved to Berkeley, and when I was here on the faculty, she used to come occasionally when she was still alive and listen to me give lectures; kind of a turnabout. I never saw her very often, bit it was always a pleasure to see her. I said there were two friends that very much influenced me. They had great interest in astronomy. One of them was Howard Stackpole, who is here in Berkeley now, and whom I see every once in a while. Heís a little younger than I am. And the other one was George Swain, whose father was a retired military man and whose hobby was mathematics. And this had influenced the son very much. George was interested in astronomy and mathematics and all these things. Here were three guys, the two friends and I, who had really many interests in science and mathematics and so on, and became very close friends. I think at least they influenced me. Whether I did them or not, I donít know. They influenced me in that they made my interest in astronomy definitely rekindled.
DeVorkin:Were you the one who had the specific interest in astronomy?
Weaver:No, I think they did. We talked about astronomy a good deal. At that time, in high school, they were making telescopes, and I had never made one, though I did soon thereafter make some telescopes. But they had had a specific interest in astronomy, and in the — there were many talks, many times when we were together — they certainly rekindled my earlier interest in astronomy, and in observing and so on.
DeVorkin:This was high school.
Weaver:When I was 14 to 16, yes.
DeVorkin:It was a rather exciting time in several different areas. Pluto was discovered...
Weaver:Oh yes. Yes.
DeVorkin:Were you aware of all of these?
Weaver:Certainly the Pluto discovery. I was talking to Art Hoag about this, I guess a month ago now, congratulating him on his directorship at Lowell and telling him how much I had been influenced by Percival Lowell and the Lowell Observatory, at that time, when I became interested in astronomy for a second time. I read all the Lowell books, and I still have them, at home. Then, one summer Howard Stackpole and I drove to the Lowell Observatory. His parents gave us one of the family cars, and we drove through Southern California. We explored the Grand Canyon and Indian cliff dwellings, which interested us very much, and we spent several days observing with the astronomers at the Lowell Observatory, and it was a great thrill for me. Both V.M. and E.C. Slipher were there. That was when I first met them. That was my first acquaintance with the Lowell Observatory people, and I got to know them all quite well.
DeVorkin:C. O. Lampland also?
Weaver:Yes, though he was harder to get along with than the others. I mean, he wasnít sort of, as friendly. Heís a slightly, I would say, more distant person. Not that he was unpleasant or anything, but he just wasnít quite as outgoing as the others.
DeVorkin:This was a summer trip?
Weaver:Yes. It was a summer trip. I was 16m, because we could both drive, and I guess it was 16 which would have been í33 or í34. So I was probably 17, 16 or 17.
DeVorkin:Iím wondering if Frank Edmondson was there.
Weaver:I donít remember Frank. He was there during those summers. I think it was a little later. I think this must have been before Frank was there.
DeVorkin:Also the Russellís would summer there.
Weaver:Thatís right, yes.
DeVorkin:Did you meet Russell?
Weaver:No, I didnít meet him at that time. No, I met him quite a bit later; after I was really a student in astronomy.
DeVorkin:What impressed you most about the Lowell Observatory at that time?
Weaver:Oh, there are several things that Howard and I still joke about some of them. It was the utter mess and confusion of the place. It was the damnedest most confused place Iíve ever seen in my life, in the sense that there was no order or sense to anything. In fact E. C. Slipher would show us plates — some of the things heíd been taking of the planets. We went into one of his several offices, and he would dig these plates out of old cigar boxes which were piled helter- skelter here and there. The pictures were all twisted on the wall. It was an utter madhouse! But what apparently happened was that one of them would fill up one office and rather than clean it up, would just move on to another, and start filling it up. That is my single strongest recollection about the Lowell Observatory at that time. It was a crazy place, with extremely valuable things around.
DeVorkin:You appreciated this at the time.
Weaver:Oh yes, very much so; sort of museum like things. I did appreciate the value of records and things of that sort, yes. But it was a strange, strange place.
DeVorkin:How did that make you feel about astronomy?
Weaver:Oh, we just loved it. He and I both looked upon them as strange astronomers. But it didnít bother us much. We had both been at the Lick Observatory, which was very much more sedate in ways, and very much more in order.
DeVorkin:Did you actually have contact with Lick people before this?
Weaver:No, not as individuals, at that time. Not long after that, yes; but not by that time. It was soon after that, that I began to have more regular contacts with some of the Lick Observatory astronomers.
DeVorkin:Had you written to the Flagstaff station before you arrived or did you arrive totally unannounced, to your recollection?
Weaver:I think we arrived totally unannounced, and just drove up and started talking to them. Oh, I remember, thereís one other thing Iíll mention in a moment or two about the same trip. So we arrived unannounced, started talking to them and telling them our interests, and that we wanted to visit the observatory and so on. And I think the one who really took the greatest interest in us was E.C. Slipher. We went and observed one evening. We spent one night observing with him at the 24-inch telescope, and of course, we visited all the others, the 40-inch reflector and the lot. Henry Giclas showed us the photographic collection, and I think we spent one night observing with Henry one time. I got to know Henry afterwards here, because he came to Berkeley as a student. So I sort of renewed and strengthened that friendship then.
DeVorkin:Just as an aside, to your knowledge, were Giclas and Tombaugh employed in the same capacity during the Pluto search?
Weaver:They must have I think; Giclas came in much the same way, that he was an untrained, maybe completely untrained or largely untrained assistant who came and did excellent work and continued in the capacity of an assistant at the Lowell Observatory.
Weaver:I was going to tell you one other. Howard and I also went to Mt. Wilson at that time, that same trip, of course. We went through Los Angeles, and in fact we had stayed with some of my relatives in Los Angeles then and his at that time. So we went there. And the person that we met and who let us observe with him a bit was Adriaan van Maanan and that was my first acquaintanceship with van Maanan, whom I came to know moderately well afterwards when I was at Mt. Wilson.
DeVorkin:Did you meet anyone else at Mt. Wilson?
Weaver:No, thatís the only one I remember, from that trip. We just visited the l00-inch and van Maanan, as I remember, was working on the 60-inch that night, so we really saw the observations in progress at the 60-inch but not the 100.
DeVorkin:He was doing photography?
Weaver:Yes, he was on his parallax program.
DeVorkin:Thatís very interesting. Also at Mt. Wilson, how did you approach people? How did you find them?
Weaver:Oh, we just knocked on the door. I guess we were very brash young kids; just interested. We didnít have any introductions of any import or anything. We just made our interest known and people were kind to us, I guess. I wonder if it would happen now. I think it would. We got to look through the 100. That was a personal sort of thing. To the best of my knowledge they never took a group to the 100-inch.
Weaver:I seem to remember once many years later that the American Astronomical Society met there, or something like that, and they then let people visit the 100-inch. But the 60 inch, during the visitorsí nights when I was at the observatory in Ď41, Ď42, was available for visitors on either Friday or Saturday night. It probably was the 60-inch.
DeVorkin:But the important thing is that you were getting very strong impressions of observatories.
Weaver:Yes, and very great interest in that, which continued to grow, just continued constantly to grow.
DeVorkin:Did you talk to any of the astronomers, Van Maanan or the Sliphers, about your career interests at that time?
Weaver:No, I donít remember any conversations of that sort, and as I say, I think that the real sort of struggle of my own, to decide what I wanted to do, came at a later time, actually; after I was through high school.
DeVorkin:What about the problems they were attacking? Did you ask them what they were doing research on?
Weaver:Oh yes, I still remember; Van talked about the distances of stars which was his parallax program. With Slipher, it was almost completely on astronomical things about the planets and particularly about Mars. But I also have a strong remembrance of that visit, and that is that E. C. Slipher impressed us, both Howard and me, as not being entirely sort of devoted to astronomy. He was at that time, I believe, a state senator or in the state legislature. And he told us that he mentioned how much he was involved with that. And I still remember, not in specific items but in a general sort of way, that it did not give us a good impression of him. You know, he wasnít quite a pure astronomer. He was doing other things. I think we were both very, very uppity at that time.
DeVorkin:Was E.C. Slipher at that time into his business interests? Were you aware of that at all?
Weaver:No. Iím sure he must have been at that time, because that was just the period, but no, not from that visit, in no way was there any indication that he was involved in the real estate that he later got so deeply involved in.
DeVorkin:Letís talk a bit more than about your high school influences. Did you have good laboratory facility for physics and chemistry?
Weaver:Yes. I guess I would have to say, yes for chemistry and ďso-soĒ for physics. It wasnít bad in physics, but I donít remember any terribly exciting things. In fact, for some reason (I think it influenced me even in college). I didnít enjoy physics as much as I did chemistry. It may have been because there were lots of exciting things to do in the laboratory in chemistry, and I remember only experiments about falling weights and all kinds of things like this, in physic. I continued with a lot of the chemistry experiments afterwards, because of the teacher there.
DeVorkin:He taught both physics and chemistry?
Weaver:Yes. There was more than one teacher, and sometimes you had one for physics. There were two or three who taught chemistry. He gave me opportunities to do extra experiments and things like that, and I used to do lots of them at home, all kinds of chemistry experiments at home. I remember he would supply some of the equipment, and Iíd have to ride around and get the chemicals from BKH in San Francisco. I was always writing for special chemicals from them and from various places around like drugstores and places where you could buy these chemicals in San Jose.
DeVorkin:And you had a place at home where you could work?
Weaver:Yes, I always had a place at home; a kind of room for experimentation and so on. It was very nice. As I say, it was a very happy childhood.
DeVorkin:Yes. What was the name of the high school?
Weaver:San Jose High. It was the only high school there then.
DeVorkin:You mentioned all your different possible career interests.
Weaver:Well, I havenít even told you about the one that was the strongest one, the strongest competitor. I mentioned literature. I was very much interested in it, and for a long time I thought in terms of classical literature, Greek and Latin. I did a lot of Latin all through high school. I also did a little bit of Greek. There was an excellent teacher there who had been to Greece, and who was the head of the language department, who had been an instructor here at Berkeley, and whose brother was a Latin scholar also in the East. Oh, there are all kinds of interesting connections and stories there. I was fascinated by these languages and by the things that one could learn of ancient times, by translating them and so on, understanding them. And I did for a long time, for several years, think of going into classical literature, and then I would have gone to Stanford, where I think there was a much better department than there was here.
DeVorkin:The important thing is all of these interests led you definitely to college, one way or another.
Weaver:Oh yes. I think that was an absolute foregone conclusion, from very early days. I would go to college. I would somehow be involved in scholarly things; I think that was also a foregone conclusion.
DeVorkin:On the part of your parents and family?
Weaver:They would have supported me in anything — in whatever I had done. If Iíd been a bum, that would have made them unhappy. They would have tried to convince me I should do something else, on that one. But no, they would have supported me in business, if thatís what I wanted to do. They would have given me every bit of help they could, or in medicine, or whatever.
DeVorkin:Was there any question of financial support in your choice of college?
Weaver:Financial support. No, it was a bit hard for them. I started in í36, so the Depression wasnít that far gone. Times were much better. My father again had another store on his own and was doing very well. But they had to keep things carefully organized in order to support me. I did have scholarships all through college, so that certainly assisted a great deal. Iíd get a few hundred dollars a year, which was significant at that time, indeed it was.
DeVorkin:How about jobs? You mentioned the job that you had teaching.
Weaver:Teaching model airplane building when I was no older than a student.
DeVorkin:But did you later on have summer jobs, part-time jobs?
Weaver:Only occasionally; nothing real. I often did small jobs that sort of interested me and that brought in a little money. I remember one time working in a bookstore in San Jose. And I would do all kinds of things. I had a variety of little jobs.
DeVorkin:What did you do in the bookstore?
Weaver:I could always letter and do things, so I used to make signs for them. And I occasionally would run some errands. I would also help keep the books in order, things like that. I particularly remember making signs. At the bookstore I didnít get any money, I could only take it out in books. It was perfectly good for me. So I increased my book collection that way. Thereís a funny story about my wife on that same thing — that I hadnít told her until many years after we were married, and she tells it occasionally now. I had chosen a book that I wanted to get, the next time I had enough money to get it. It was a book about California. It was a book about Joaquin Murietta, who was the Robin Hood of California, and doggone if the book didnít disappear, in the sense that somebody bought it. And I had learned that it was an order for someone on Mt. Hamilton, and it was a birthday present for my future wife! So I always tell her, I just married her to get the book that Iíd wanted when we were both children.
Weaver:Itís still there.
DeVorkin:There is a legend of Joaquin Murietta — that his treasure is buried up around Mt. Hamilton.
Weaver:Yes. Thereís the Murietta Springs. And the reason that the Trumplers got that book for Cecile was that their garden, which was a very important thing in their family life up there —Trumpler tended that garden with tender loving care — their garden was at Murietta Springs. And so that book was a special present.
DeVorkin:So they were very close.
Weaver:Yes, just over the Saddle and down a bit.
DeVorkin:On the other side of Copernicus Peak?
DeVorkin:Well, moving up to the period of time when you were to graduate from high school and spend that year trying to make a decision — as you leave your early home life with your parents, Iíd like to ask you one more question, dealing with formal religious instruction? Did you have any and have you maintained religious interests?
Weaver:Yes. My mother was quite religious, and she tended to be a fundamentalist. Thatís a little too strong but it was in a very definitely strong Bible family. Her family was very strongly inclined that way.
DeVorkin:What was the name of the church?
Weaver:Oh, it was the Swedish Methodist I think. I know where it is in Turlock, but I canít tell you the name of it, because Iím not very religious, in a formal way. My father was never, but my mother was certainly interested in religion, and I did go to Sunday school and had some religious instruction. Certainly I knew all the Bible stories and things like that from early childhood. But I was never very deeply religious, in the sense of regular church goer. It didnít interest me that much. After I came to college, I became interested in sort of philosophical considerations that were religiously related, and I became associated with the Unitarian Church here. The Trumpler family is Unitarian, had been for a long time. It may have been actually that Cecile had first invited me to that. I guess it may have been.
DeVorkin:Your fatherís religious background if there was any?
Weaver:No, they were not religious people at all.
DeVorkin:And so the Church you were in, in San Jose?
Weaver:There was a variety of them, at different times, because my mother was always sampling. It went everywhere from Seventh Day Adventists to Christian Science, just the gamut of them. There was a period in her life when she was just very much involved in sampling kinds of religion. They were all Christian religions.
Weaver:I havenít mentioned my grandfather — my fatherís family in San Jose, to any extent. My paternal grandmother remarried. I mentioned that the whole family had come to California because of my grandfatherís ill health. He did not live terribly long after they came to California. It must have been cancer, but I donít think it was diagnosed in that fashion at the time. I donít think they knew enough about it. My grandmother remarried. Iíve always thought it was interesting because she changed her name from Weaver to Weber, but thatís not the thing thatís interesting. My grandfather Weber with whom I was always closely associated had a general kind of repair store in San Jose. He did all kinds of things. He did repairs on equipment. He did lock-smiting; he did all kinds of things. He had a long-established small business there. It was on 105 East San Fernando St. in San Jose. I still remember that one well. And it was near the public library so that was one reason, you see, I had that as my center. Well, he also had a marvelous shop. And so I had as a child the run of this shop, and so I did — constantly. I had all the tools and everything that I wanted, and I used to make all kinds of things in his shop. So that was certainly a very strong influence on my life, that I always had tools and had things to work with and do things with. And my grandfather, who had been in San Jose from the 1880ís, knew all about the Lick Observatory. Some of my early recollections are the stories of this second grandfather, this step-grandfather, about James Lick and the Lick Observatory. So I sort of grew up under the shadow of Lick, in that sense. But you see, it was something that I had lived with from earliest childhood but it didnít influence me in a very direct way. It didnít incline me towards astronomy. Itís just that these were some of the stories that I had heard from childhood.
DeVorkin:Did he have a direct contact with anyone at Lick?
Weaver:No, he did not.
DeVorkin:So these were from newspaper stories?
Weaver:Newspaper accounts, and of course, in the 1880ís James Lick and his idiosyncrasies were topics of great interest and general knowledge.
DeVorkin:Do you recall any of the stories?
Weaver:Oh, I remember the building of the mill, the stories about fertilizer, with bones and things of this sort, and one crazy one, as I remember where —
DeVorkin:This was about Lick himself.
Weaver:Yes, these were stories about James Lick. And then one in which in order to determine that he was going to be boss and that the fellow he was hiring was going to do what he wanted him to do, he ordered him to plant whatever it was upside down in the ground, which the guy did and so he was hired. I mean, you know, strange crazy things like this. But you see, from my grandfatherís place, there was a beautiful clear view of the Lick Observatory up there on Mt. Hamilton. It was, you know, a natural point on the mountain. And so of course these stories all revolved, sort of naturally, around that thing up there on the mountain related to James Lick.
DeVorkin:What do you feel was your step-grandfatherís reaction to Licks putting this thing up on that mountain?
Weaver:I think he had never anything but interest in it. That is, he didnít feel that was a crazy aspect. I think he felt that was a proper thing. It was a solid stable thing. It brought prestige to the San Jose area. It was a fine thing, he felt, Iím sure. No, the observatory was never spoken of in a derogatory way, or in a way of being a nutty thing, like some of these other aspects of James Lick.
DeVorkin:Did he ever speak with respect for Lick of his decision to build this observatory?
Weaver:I havenít any immediate recollection that would indicate either disrespect or respect —except, as I say, the Lick Observatory was considered a very special kind of thing, in many ways. It was always something very different from the rest of the area around there; different from San Jose. It was a great thing. It was something that was very much above the sort of ordinary building, ordinary things around. There was almost an aura around it, in some ways.
DeVorkin:Did he ever go up to visit?
DeVorkin:How early do you suppose he started visiting?
Weaver:Well, since he was a great one to go around — he always loved to go and see things — it would certainly be in the horse and buggy days. I haven any pictures of that. He certainly would have been there a number of times. Even in those days, automobiles had a very hard time. It would be horse and buggy.
DeVorkin:Holden wrote a very interesting little guide to the Lick Observatory. Did your grandfather ever pick one up or any of the literature?
Weaver:I donít know. I really donít know that.
DeVorkin:Has your family organized any of his remnants?
Weaver:I think that we still have a few of them, but not very much, unfortunately.
DeVorkin:If something like that had been included, you would have known!
Weaver:I would have known, yes.
DeVorkin:Ok. Did he have any friends who actually had some direct contact with the observatory, any of his own associates?
Weaver:No, not that I know of. Iíve wondered sometimes if he had known the people in the stage that drove up. For example, the food store — Palmerís market — which was on Second St. in San Jose, was not very far from this place which my grandfather had. And Mr. Roper, who had the stage, always went into the garage which was within a block of my grandfatherís place. And so it was conceivable that he knew some of the people who were involved, in that sense but not the astronomers and so on. That was a different category.
DeVorkin:At that time, of course, any of the staff, and especially the people who were involved in building the place, would be a tremendously important source for us indeed.
DeVorkin:Getting back to your own history and your high school years, which you had built a few telescopes.
DeVorkin:And that you did have some later contact with Santa Clara University and their little observatory.
Weaver:That was again through Howard Stackpole. And we simply went and visited them at the observatory, at the University of Santa Clara, and met the Jesuit who was the astronomer. I canít tell you his name, Iím sorry to say. I did talk to him at some length. I was beginning to have some insights into astronomy at that time. It was toward the end of high school maybe in my senior year. We talked to him about some of the things he was doing, and he was trying to explain the calculation of sidereal time. That guy didnít know anything. He had it absolutely backward. It was awful. No wonder that they never achieved anything at that observatory. He did let us use some of the equipment there. Here are these two brash young men who went up to talk to him, and I guess we established our credentials somehow, and he did allow us to use the small photographic telescope, and both Howard and I were very anxious to take astronomical pictures. And we did, and I still have a picture of a comet that I took then, and that must have been 1935 or early Ď36. Theyíre still somewhere at home, that first astronomical picture, a nice comet.
DeVorkin:The wide field Astrograph?
Weaver:Yes, fairly wide field, quite a few degrees. It must have been something like a 3 inch aperture or 4 inch, something like that.
DeVorkin:Did you use the 16 inch? Was it there at that time?
Weaver:No, but they had an eight inch refractor which we looked at.
DeVorkin:I see. They must have gotten the 16 inch later.
Weaver:Oh, they had a very funny history. He told us a little about it. I still remember a few snatches of that. And that is that they had the money, and I think the go-ahead, to build a 60 inch telescope. They had a dome that would have taken a 60 inch telescope. And they started getting some of the equipment together, and they let contracts, and they got cheated out of it. No delivery. And they never made a fuss.
DeVorkin:What was the company?
Weaver:I donít know that.
DeVorkin:Approximate date in time?
DeVorkin:One of the big companies?
Weaver:I donít think so. They would have delivered. It must have been some fly by night affair, and they simple never got anything. I remember seeing some of the crates and things there, you know. But they didnít get anything.
DeVorkin:That material might still be there, do you know?
DeVorkin:Do you know how they ended up with the 16 inch swift Mt. Laue refractor?
Weaver:No, I donít know that.
DeVorkin:Could that Jesuit still be alive and there?
Weaver:It is conceivable. Itís an interesting little observatory, all started by that fellow who was so interested in the weather, I think. He was a Jesuit, if I remember who was interested in weather, there at the University of Santo Clara, and somehow got things going, astronomically. At an impossible site, of course, but it didnít make any difference. Somehow he managed to raise money. And he never got anything for it.
DeVorkin:Any contact with the Chabot?
Weaver:No, visits, yes. Again it was Howard and I. By that time, we were very close friends, and we did a lot of visiting at observatories and other things together. We had many parallel interests, and certainly we visited the Chabot.
DeVorkin:Well, Iíll ask you about your telescopes; how you came to build one. But then Iíd like to ask if you had come up to Berkeley to talk to any of the astronomers about a career in astronomy.
Weaver:I guess I never thought about it, in terms of talking about a career in astronomy with an astronomer. I sort of just decided what I was going to do and would do it. I donít remember ever asking any questions about a career, as such. I must have been rather bullheaded in that sense, in that I just decided, if thatís what I was going to do, thatís what I was going to do. I did come to visit here, one time. But it was when the observatory was over on the old hill, over there. That was before. It used to be over there.
DeVorkin:Did you meet Leuschner?
Weaver:No, I did not meet Leuschner. But that first time that I was here, I met Miss Moylan, who was the secretary. She was the secretary when I was here as a student and even as a faculty member. I did see everything they had, and as I remember it that was the time that I first met S. Einarsson, too. He was one of the professors here. But I did not meet Leuschner.
Weaver:You asked me about telescopes. Well, there were a variety of them. They were all reflectors. I dreamed about making a refractor, but never did.
DeVorkin:Did you make mirrors?
Weaver:Yes. I made a bunch of them. There are still some around. I started with a three-inch and then I made several six-inch mirrors, and designed mountings, and made mountings. That introduces several other interesting things, at that time. I designed and made mountings. The biggest was a 12-inch which was a pretty good mirror.
DeVorkin:What books did you use?
Weaver:Oh, ďATM,Ē AMATEUR TELESCOPE MAKING by Albert O. Ingalls. All (???) of those.
Weaver:Oh, I knew those practically by heart at that time.
DeVorkin:By this time were you reading any more serious and involved books in astronomy?
Weaver:Yes, quite a few. Again I was pawing through the library in San Jose, and through San Jose State. They had a modest library in astronomical things. And I certainly was becoming more and more interested in the Lick Observatory, and I read all of the publications of the Lick Observatory. They were at the San Jose State Teachers College, as it was called then.
DeVorkin:Was there anyone teaching astronomy at San Jose State?
Weaver:No. I think they just had it as a general item in the library.
DeVorkin:What papers impressed you the most, what were to most interesting to read?
Weaver:Well, I especially liked star clusters, and planetary nebulae, and I somehow was intrigued by what were then called nebulae, now called galaxies, but I didnít get as involved in them.
DeVorkin:What about standard textbooks? Any that you recall?
Weaver:Yes, a number at that time. That was about my senior year in high school. I read Russell, Dugan and Stewart from cover to cover.
Weaver:And I particularly loved, and understood moderately well at least the first parts of it, Moultonís CELESTIAL MECHANICS. That was one of my first real astronomical books. I read that one, the first part, quite thoroughly. In fact, shortly thereafter I started devising a new way to get a binary star orbit, by least squares techniques. I thought actually of trying it first on a visual binary.
DeVorkin:(???) Russell was very very strong on binaries.
Weaver:Oh, yes indeed he was. Well, by that time, I guess I was getting very much interested in it. That was then leading right up to the time when I was graduating from high school , and I decided that I really didnít know what I wanted to do, and I had a choice to make, a big choice; that my interests seemed to be switching from these earlier things, particularly in classical literature, into science and astronomy. I decided that the thing to do was to take a year off and decide. That year was spent at Carmel, where my father had his store.
DeVorkin:Were you working in the store?
Weaver:No, I didnít have anything to do. It was wonderful, I didnít have a thing to do except walk on the beach. For a short period each day I did go to the Monterey High School. I went to the mathematics and physics classes there. I wanted to see what they were doing. And I became quite good friends with the physics and math teacher there, who, later on, I knew here in Berkeley, because we both ended up at the Radiation Laboratory, during the war. He was kind of a technician. I was his boss, for a while.
DeVorkin:Did you find any major differences between the education, quality level, there and San Jose?
Weaver:I would say it was much more collegiate in San Jose.
DeVorkin:In Monterey, what was the attitude?
Weaver:Well, there werenít as many people there with an interest in what they were doing. It was much better in San Jose in that way. At least among the people I knew. I canít say that was absolutely it with every person, but the ones that I would have called friends were of that sort.
DeVorkin:Ok. This year in Carmel — was there any systematic searching which you had done, or what?
Weaver:Well, I think it was primarily a lot of reading and thinking. I was making telescopes, doing things, all kinds of stuff of activities of that sort. I was trying to think whether I had started much photography at that time; I think that came a little later.
DeVorkin:Were you painting still?
Weaver:Very little, at that time. Drawing yes but painting, not very much. And the drawing was becoming more and more technical rather than artistic. I remember drawing lots of pictures of telescopes, designing mountings. I was clearly switching around into the field of science.
DeVorkin:Did you have any interest at that time in electronics?
Weaver:No. And I think, in fact, that itís been a weakness, that Iím not more experienced. I can repair a radio, and I understand what electronics do. Iíve been involved here with many many instruments and so on. But I donít get in and make electronic equipment. Itís a part of my education that I think is really quite lacking.
DeVorkin:From lack of interest?
Weaver:I would say lack of time. I wasnít particularly interested during that period in high school. And when I got to college, then I really didnít have that much time away from the things I was truly interested in, to do this additional thing. I just never seemed to have gotten around to it. And electronic, here at Berkeley, in the general physics course, was not very strong. It was almost special, if you did the lab in Physics 110 that was E&M. You learned E&M out of a book, you know, hooking up an oscilloscope and making a few simple circuits — that was special stuff and not many did it.
DeVorkin:It was special? Or it was too much of a mundane thing?
Weaver:I donít think so. I think it was just that there was less interest. For some, maybe those who were specifically in some parts of physics, they were doing it, but it was much less. I donít want to say they didnít do things like that at Berkeley, because E. O. Lawrence was here, and the cyclotron was going. But just the sort of person, say, in a thing like mathematics or astronomy, even when he took physics, it was more the mathematics of it, than it was in the ďhands-onĒ aspect of a laboratory.
Weaver:And I think that was a decided lack. I wish I had somehow been forced more into doing things of that particular sort.
DeVorkin:But in many ways, you were subject to the direction of the department that you were in.
DeVorkin:Well, during this year in Carmel then, how did you come to the various decisions you made?
Weaver:Well, itís just that I found that the astronomical interests became overpowering. And I just did more and more reading in that, and less and less thinking about doing other things. Just that one interest overcame another.
DeVorkin:Is there a particular type of astronomy that got you more than others?
Weaver:At first, yes — mathematical astronomy. I was always very interested in mathematics. You remember I said that one of my favorite books was CELESTIAL MECHANICS by Moulton. And thatís why Berkeley, in some ways, seemed to me an ideal spot, because Leuschner celestial mechanics was here. And I must say, that really settled my mind on that one. And I think that may be also why I did less in some of these other things. I sometimes feel that I should have had a stronger physics background, than I did. But remember, I said in high school, chemistry was more interesting than physics. I have thought about that several times — that physics was not as good. Here, because my interests had been more mathematical and in celestial mechanics, I did less of t sort of physics of a physical sort than I think would have been good for me. I wish I had done things in electronics and more E-M, things like that, which I didnít do.
DeVorkin:But certainly, if you had entered Berkeley, entered especially as astronomy major, you were subject to the interests of the department itself, which were very classical.
Weaver:Very classical. My training was completely classical.
DeVorkin:Let me ask, how did you apply? How did you decide upon Berkeley, letís say?
Weaver:Because my interests were in celestial mechanics and in mathematical things. I became more and more attracted to that aspect of astronomy.
DeVorkin:You donít think thereís any chance it was the other way around? You knew that Berkeley was strong?
Weaver:Yes, I knew it was outstanding; it wasnít the other way around. Very definitely, yes.
DeVorkin:OK, thatís fine. You did not apply to any other places?
Weaver:No, came straight to Berkeley.
DeVorkin:And you came as a student supported by your family, or on scholarship?
Weaver:Both. I had an alumni scholarship.
DeVorkin:Does that mean that your father went there?
Weaver:No, it means that the Alumni Association supplied the money for these scholarships. Any relative in the organization, or who had been in the organization at any time; they gave them just to general students.
DeVorkin:It was an academic award.
DeVorkin:What were your living conditions when you came? Dormitory?
Weaver:No. I lived in a boarding house on Ridge Road, which I liked very much because it was so near the observatory. I was just a little more than a block away from the old Leuschner Observatory, ďStudents ObservatoryĒ it was called then.
DeVorkin:Now, to clarify one very important point — you came directly as an astronomy major? Did they have such a thing at that time?
Weaver:Well, I guess one didnít really choose a major until the junior year. But all of my work was definitely aimed at astronomy. And so I took all of the courses that re recommended for astronomers, at that time. In the write-up that appeared in the Catalogue, for example, there was a list of what one should take. So I went right through the mathematics courses, and the beginning physics courses, and didnít have any astronomy for quite a long time. I had languages, French, and various other things that were sort of general requirements for graduation from Berkeley.
DeVorkin:So you didnít immediately begin to be a habitué of the Students Observatory?
Weaver:Oh yes, as a matter of fact, I did. And I had a very great disappointment as a result of it. Again, I wanted to do some astronomical things while I was here. Even at the beginning I wanted to use the photographic telescope to take photographs.
DeVorkin:You said you had been developing an interest in photography.
Weaver:Yes, and I had done a very small amount of work at Santa Clara. So I showed them an astronomical picture Iíd taken. I had done a few small things of this sort. And I wanted to use the photographic telescope I guess when I was a freshman, on a regular basis. I wanted to photograph all the Messier objects, I still recall that. And C.D. Shane said, ďUh uh, you canít do it. Itís a waste of time, donít bother. And I never got to use it. I was very disappointed.
DeVorkin:That must have been a great disappointment.
DeVorkin:Shane was director of the Students Observatory?
Weaver:No, but somehow he was involved in the decision. I donít know exactly how, at the time.
DeVorkin:I see. Was he a full time faculty member at that time?
Weaver:Yes. He was associate professor of astronomy.
DeVorkin:Did you go directly to C.D. Shane for the decision?
Weaver:I really donít remember exactly what the chain of command was on that one, but I remember the decision came from him, or he told me.
DeVorkin:Did you continue to be around the department?
Weaver:Yes, I did come around a little. And I did use the 8-inch reflector that was there then, a little. And I began to be acquainted with Leon Salanave, who was a student at the same time, and Leon and I did a little work at the observatory.
DeVorkin:Were you the same age?
Weaver:Yes. We entered together and graduated together. Quite a few other too. There were quite a few others at the time.
DeVorkin:— who had gone into astronomy?
Weaver:Yes, the one with whom I became most thoroughly acquainted was Lawrence Aller. Lawrence was a number of years ahead of me, but then we often had lunch together and were really quite close friends here. And there were two friends in mathematics, who were really Lawrenceís friends. They were in the same class as he. He was a graduate student at that time. The Wakerlings, in fact, one of the Aller children is named Raymond, for Ray Wakening.
DeVorkin:They must have been very close.
Weaver:They were very close friends. Yes.
DeVorkin:Did you talk astronomy?
Weaver:Oh, yes, very much so. All kinds of astronomy. So I really began to feel that I was learning a little astronomy, at that time.
DeVorkin:What was the atmosphere at the Studentís Observatory at that time?
Weaver:A very homey one. It was a little group all by itself. The buildings were really very warm and friendly in character. There were lots of students in the area. There were quite a few graduate students. They were there a good deal of the time, so one could get to know them, even as a freshman or a sophomore. And I remember it as a very friendly place. I think that in many ways, the department lost, by losing that little campus to itself.
DeVorkin:Did you find a place to study there? Did you study?
Weaver:Yes. Again, I read all the books in the library there. I soon came to know that library very well. It wasnít a very large one. It was one room that had the books. There were periodicals in the next room, but that was always a little more mysterious. All the books were very easy to get at. And there was free access to it. No question about that.
DeVorkin:Did you study and solve course problems in mathematics and physics with your contemporaries, in the Student Observatory?
Weaver:No. Well, Leon and I worked quite often together. I remember, though, that really, more on things like that, working alone and by myself. Writing the physics reports up on experiments and things like that. Occasionally there were certainly a few contacts. But I donít remember very much really getting together and studying with anybody very much. It was more of an alone thing.
Weaver:I suppose. I guess I had always been — never having had any brothers and sisters I guess being alone didnít seem very strange to me. So working in my room seemed pretty normal.
DeVorkin:Ok. When you finally started experiencing astronomy courses, who were your professors and what were your recollections of them?
Weaver:Well, the first ones were in the upper division. I had all the faculty members here. There were two courses in astrophysics, which used Russell, Dugan and Stewart. The first one was on the solar system, and then the second one was on what would be called astrophysics today. From Russell Tracey Crawford I had the solar system and some elementary celestial mechanics. Then, the one on the Volume 2 of Russell, Dugan and Stewart, was with William Myer. He was a professor here. I had Least Squares from S. Einarrson, Practical Astronomy from A. O. Leuschner. Leuschner was just retiring at that time, and in order to get a class from him, I took that class in my sophomore year.
DeVorkin:You were allowed to do that?
Weaver:He allowed me to do that. So I had a course in Practical Astronomy, which meant the use of the transit and time and such problems as precession and mutation, parallax, proper motions, and positions on photographic plates and the like. That was with Leuschner.
DeVorkin:Did you ever wonder how you chose astronomy and Howard Stackpole did not? What was it different between you two that caused the difference?
Weaver:Yes, I think there were differences — Howard did do some astronomy. He later became an assistant at the Lick Observatory.
DeVorkin:Did he go Berkeley with you?
Weaver:He was somewhat behind me. Heís a little younger than I. But he did come to Berkeley. But he didnít go into astronomy, and heís had, in many ways, a very broken up and in some ways I think a very unhappy life. He was a bit dominated by his mother for a long time, and I think that has really hurt him seriously. He still remains a bachelor, and lives alone, not very happy. He seemed to have trouble with things like mathematics and physics. So I think it would have been impossible for him to go on in technical astronomy. But he was an assistant at Lick for a number of years, and on the Berkeley campus, he was sort of the chief technician for a while, when they started the nuclear energy project here, that little plant in engineering — a small generator.
DeVorkin:That was a loose end that I just wanted to tie up. Then you started taking courses from these different people. By that time, had Shane gone to Lick?
Weaver:Oh no, that came much later. Shane remained here and was professor of astronomy. He got promoted, finally. And he was the astrophysicist here. He was the principal contact with contemporary astronomy. To some extent Trumpler was here then. R. Trumpler was on the campus here. And he did one course, as a service to the organization, though he was not on the faculty here. He was still an astronomer at Lick. Trumpler taught the galactic structure. But all the others, except for Shane, were really in classical astronomy, and to put it very bluntly, some of them were not of the best. You didnít even know the name Myer, for example, and the reason is he never did anything.
DeVorkin:Did he write a leaflet or something?
Weaver:Yes, Iím sure but it isnít a name that youíd recognize instantly.
Weaver:And he did one thing that was very interesting. He worked on Beta Canis Majoris. He measured scads of plates, and the work that O. Struve did later really depended a good deal on some of the things that Myer had done on that star. But Myer couldnít have interpreted Beta Canis Majoris or any other star for his life. He was simply a very positive, wonderful lecturer in Astronomy I. He did that beautifully. He was terribly enthusiastic. He did it well. He did a fine job. But he wasnít an astronomer who did anything. He didnít publish. He didnít do anything about any real technical astronomy. And another one in that same category was S. Einarrson.
DeVorkin:Oh really, because I certainly have heard of him.
Weaver:Youíve certainly heard of him, probably because he was the secretary-treasurer of the ASP. But he didnít publish anything to speak of. There are a few things in regard to asteroid positions and so on. He taught the navigation courses, to a large extent, and he taught the least squares course to the engineers. So it was a strange mixed department, you see. The three people who were of real intellectual strength were Leuschner, in his own field, celestial mechanics; Shane, who was the astrophysicist here; and Trumpler, who was really just occupying an office.
DeVorkin:But he was still very much in research of course.
Weaver:Oh yes. He was measuring plates all the time he was doing his radial velocities. And he was observing at Lick. But the reason he was here was that his family needed to live here rather than on Mt. Hamilton where they couldnít go to school. So he moved to Berkeley.
DeVorkin:That was a very significant decision. But that was the major influence?
Weaver:Oh yes, it was. And you see, then there was Crawford, but by that time his days had passed. Heíd written that book in orbit theory, but that was really the last of it, and he didnít do much. He still taught his classes from his notes of 20 years before.
Weaver:It was a strange department, in many ways.
DeVorkin:What contact, to your knowledge, were there with the mathematics people? Was Jerzy Neymann here at that time or Elizabeth Scott?
Weaver:Well, Elizabeth Scott was a student here. We were students together.
DeVorkin:Oh, I see.
Weaver:That year that I took out put me behind the others, so my future wife Cecile actually was a year ahead of me, and Betty Scott was in that same class with Cecile. They had been in high school together. Neymann came much later. Neymann came as a result of a problem in statistics here on the campus. There were so many statistics courses in part I think was a result or a committee report that C.D. Shane wrote.
DeVorkin:Well, at this time was there a growing interest in following some of the work or the people at Mt. Wilson and the statistics or galaxy distribution
DeVorkin:Not at Berkeley?
Weaver:That came much later.
DeVorkin:Was graduate school certainly in line?
Weaver:Oh yes. The whole thing was really settled at that point. And I did a lot of extra things, for example. During my year at Carmel as Iíve mentioned, Iíd already read a lot, and I took some course credit by examination here, for example, and so my senior year in college here was really a first graduate year, though I didnít graduate until the end of the fourth year. Because I remember, all but one of the courses that I was taking was a graduate course.
DeVorkin:Did you maintain your priority of interest in mathematical astronomy?
Weaver:Yes, though it began to switch, toward the end of my four years here. And I became interested in statistics and in galactic structure and so on. I was very much attracted to the work that Trumpler was doing. It seemed to me to be the scientific work that was going on here. See, the other fellows were not doing very much. They were all celestial mechanicians. They were doing essentially nothing at that point. They wore all so old and retired. Shane was in a very narrow field of astrophysics. He taught stellar structure. He taught the graduate course, using Unsoldís book in atmospheres. He did all the advanced work. And he also, by the way, taught one of the courses in celestial mechanics and so on. But his own work was very narrowly centered in the Sodium D lines of the solar spectrum. He was doing photometry with the Sodium lines, and if you look at his publications theyíre not very extensive. So, in many ways, the one sort of center of important science, in astronomy at that time in Berkeley, was Trumpler. And I found that his work was very attractive, what he was doing in understanding the galaxy.
DeVorkin:Was this with direct association with the man through general reading?
Weaver:Through general reading, but also, he was teaching courses from the time I was a junior. And I had a course from him when I was a junior, and it was his kind of very thorough, detailed, careful sort of work, that I found attractive.
DeVorkin:This is a fascinating time, when you were taking these courses from Trumpler. Did he ever talk about how his cluster diagrams were being used by G. Kuiper and B. Stromgren and others, to interpret stellar evolution?
Weaver:It was roughly that time. I had met Kuiper, at that time, through Lick Observatory, and I knew of some of this work that he was doing. That rea1ly came later, when I got to know Trumpler better. You see, when I worked as his assistant, for example, thatís when some of these other discussions came about.
DeVorkin:But during this time, í39, I guess, would be your junior year?
DeVorkin:You got married in that year?
DeVorkin:So you must have gotten to know him (Trumpler) reasonably well.
Weaver:Yes, I got to know him reasonably well after that. Yes. In fact, she (Cecile Trumpler) was in astronomy, and that was where we first met. We met in Leuschnerís course. Interesting.
DeVorkin:How many students were in that course?
Weaver:Oh, about half a dozen. Letís see, I donít know that any of the others would be known to you. Keith Peirce, whom you know, certainly, came later.
DeVorkin:Did Leon Salanave go through all these courses?
Weaver:Leon, as I remember, did it the next year. And I also re-did some of it. I came again to listen to the Trumpler lectures in the same field. And the comparison was quite extraordinary. As I remember, it was that time that Leon took the course in practical astronomy.
DeVorkin:Have you saved the lecture notes that you took?
Weaver:No, I think that they are chucked out now, but I believe that I have all of Trumplerís notes.
DeVorkin:I was asking about Trumpler.
Weaver:Yes. Theyíre saved at home. I should give them to you, or I should give them to somebody here.
DeVorkin:Well, the manuscript division in the Bancroft is the proper place to put them.
Weaver:Jerzy Neymann came in í40 I guess. Again, Iíd have to check that date, but it was either í40 or í41. And I donít know exactly when he originally started getting interested in galaxies, because there were a lot of other things in which he was interested, too. Binary stars and so on. And Betty Scottís thesis was in the detection of binary stars, and procedures for doing that.
DeVorkin:Iíd like to have you recall for me how you met your future wife.
Weaver:I think we first met in Leuschnerís class. That was when I was a sophomore. And I think that was about the time that I began in the Unitarian Church. And the Trumplers had always been very active in the Unitarians, and so we went there together. And we just began seeing each other. We went off to the opera. I still remember spending all my money on opera season tickets in San Francisco. We donít go there anymore. She often asks how come we used to go and we donít go now? ďNo time.Ē
DeVorkin:More expensive, too.
Weaver:Yes. But my salary is also greater than zero, which it was then and we just saw more of each other. Finally, I was trying to think of just how I finally lived at the Trumplers. They normally had a boarder, and they invited me to come and live there. And that was when I really came to know them, the whole family. And we got married in the summer of í39.
DeVorkin:What were your first impress ions, and then continuing developing impressions of Trumpler?
Weaver:A very sound and thorough scientist; a man who was simply meticulous in his work. Every detail was simply meticulous. I felt that he sometimes was getting, at the end, a little out of touch with contemporary things, in the sense that his training was more nearly on classical lines. And while he did a lot to make some aspects of contemporary astronomy possible, the discovery of interstellar extinction, for example, and other things, he certainly was not keeping up with all kinds of modern things as Iím sure Iím not. Every one of us gradually drifts off, away from the main stream. But he certainly was a great influence on me. I think that in many ways, I have tried to emulate this thoroughness and precision with which he always worked. He always understood all of the details, and would spare no effort to make whatever he did just as perfect as he could make it.
DeVorkin:Did he start confiding in you at that time, about his opinions or the astronomical community, where astronomy was going, and his own career?
Weaver:Oh, some aspects of it, yes. Though certainly, he was never one to talk very much about his colleagues. So I really donít have very much of an idea. I could see that there were some very close friendships, and there were also some animosities. But he was very very careful in covering these up.
DeVorkin:What were these close friendships, and the ones that were not close?
Weaver:Oh, I think that in the broader astronomical community, he had very strong feelings for Walter Baade. And it was certainly because of the Trumpler-Baade friendship that there was this plan to have a student from Berkeley go to Mt. Wilson and work. And I was the first guinea pig on that, and that was in the summer of 1940. I went and was the assistant for W. Baade and for E. Hubble. I was divided between the two, although as it turned out, I didnít work very much with Hubble. I spent some time with him, but not terribly much. It was mostly with Baade and photometry. And the second year Betty Scott was the one who went. She went and I was invited to return as Baadeís assistant, and the third summer, as I remember it, Keith Peirce was the Berkeley student and I was again invited to return as Baadeís assistant. So I went each time, finally working for Baade.
DeVorkin:So these were three summer appointments.
Weaver:Those were the three summer appointments, and after that, it disappeared because of the war. And it never was started again.
DeVorkin:Baade was one of his close friends.
Weaver:Yes, because of their association at school where they had both gone to school at Gottingen.
DeVorkin:Then that was a very long term association.
Weaver:Yes it was. Well, itís hard for me, you know, to point out any terribly close friends, in the sense of people in the astronomical world that he regularly saw. They didnít seem to have many associations of that kind. H knew lots of people, of course. But there werenít people that they saw on a weekly or even monthly basis.
DeVorkin:Trumpler was a student of Schlesinger for a while.
Weaver:I guess one would call him a student.
DeVorkin:He had a fellowship, I canít remember the years, late teens possibly?
Weaver:Yes, it must have been Ď16 or Ď17.
DeVorkin:Right in the middle of the war?
Weaver:Yes. Youíll find that written up, as I remember, in the obituary for Trumpler that my son Pau and I wrote in the ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY OF The PACIFIC publication.
DeVorkin:Ok, Iíll look at it.
Weaver:Trumpler, in the war, had been called up in the Swiss Army. And he had this opportunity to come to the United States. He was finally dismissed from the Army. Somehow, they let him go, and he took up his fellowship in the United States.
Weaver:I guess it was a kind of an apprenticeship. I really donít know much about the details of that particular period. Trumpler never talked about them very much. Occasionally he recalled about how cold it was.
Weaver:In Pittsburgh, and that the sign to stop observing was when the ink in the fountain pen froze!
DeVorkin:Did he ever talk about World War I and how he felt about it?
Weaver:Not at all. Nope, I never remember a thing on that, in all the years that we talked.
DeVorkin:He was of Swiss ancestry?
Weaver:Yes, from Zurich or nearby. The family seat was in Zurich. And that family goes way way back; the genealogy is complete back to somewhere around 1200 or 1300.
DeVorkin:His Swiss origins, did this cause him to be relatively neutral during both wars, to your knowledge?
Weaver:I donít know about World War I.
DeVorkin:World War II?
Weaver:There may have been some neutral tendencies, but I think he was a strong supporter of the United States. I never saw anything to the contrary.
DeVorkin:Ok, good. I asked you earlier about Trumplerís own feelings about the use of his color-magnitude diagram. You said that you didnít become aware of it until later. Was this in direct discussion with him, or just as you became more and more aware of the state of astronomy at that time?
Weaver:I tried to imply that we had discussed them together at later times, and we did many times; in fact, the interpretation of them. And I had read about it. I donít remember the exact year — it must have been in maybe 1939 general period, when I was at Mt. Hamilton that summer, and I did work with Trumpler. I observed with him, and when youíd work at the 36-inch all night long, all you could do was talk, and so we often talked about those things, and discussed some of the interpretations, what it meant. There was certainly no thought or indication of it being an age effect, or evolutionary effect of that sort. It was really discussed in part as a kind of chemical composition effect. I had at one time planned to do some work on that. In fact, that would have been a topic that I studied or started to study for my National Research Fellowship that I had at Chicago in Ď42 and í43. I had planned to study cluster diagrams, in particular from the point of view of chemical composition of the strength of the lines, and I then got into the whole problem of metallic line stars. And I did have a few papers, in the ear1y days of my work, on metallic line stars, somewhere in the thing, and much later, even from Lick.
DeVorkin:The first paper I have of yours is on calcium emission. Weíll get to that. That was from your Yerkes days. It was written from Yerkes.
Weaver:It was written from Yerkes, but the observations were made the last time I think that I used the 100-inch telescope at Mt. Wilson, I think.
DeVorkin:Thatís right. Iím interested in recalling as much about Trumpler as we can possibly do.
DeVorkin:You said he was not looking for an age effect, so he really wasnít looking for that?
Weaver:I donít think there was any idea of that. I donít remember ever hearing a discussion of that particular type. I donít think that there was a concept at that time, in his mind, about evolutionary effect. I think that my own background in astronomy at that time — which, as I say, I think was not altogether a very strong one, in this particular sort of field, given the fact that the education came from here, where there was no strength in that field — ideas about stellar evolution and so on were not uppermost in my mind . And I certainly think that in this area, that whole idea didnít percolate. After all, it was only shortly before then that the idea of nuclear fuel providing the energy of stars had been thought of. And I still remember at that time, I guess it was in Ď38, Betheís colloquium here on stellar energy generation. It was very interesting.
DeVorkin:Right. Did Trumpler talk at all about Kuiper and Stromgrenís interpretations?
Weaver:Oh yes. Very often about Kuiper, because Kuiper had been very close to the Trumpler family when he was at Lick. In fact, I always had the impression that Trumpler looked upon that period as one of his happiest ones, in some ways, at Lick. The story goes that each afternoon they had tea and they would discuss astronomical topics.
DeVorkin:— the entire faculty?
Weaver:No, Kuiper and Trumpler. Gerard would come into Trumplerís office and they would then have tea and cookies out of cans, just 1ike that one, made by the Trumpler family — not the can, the cookies. And then they would discuss these topics. And of course, Kuiper was very much interested in these cluster diagrams, as you well know, and some of the papers that he wrote shortly after that from Harvard, in the HARVARD BULLETIN, really came from those discussions and that work at Lick.
DeVorkin:Did Trumpler ever recall discussing the possibility of an age effect with Kuiper?
Weaver:No. I never remember hearing anything of that sort from him.
DeVorkin:Never wondered whether main sequence stars were made out of giants, or giants were made out of main sequence stars? That hadnít been decided at that point.
Weaver:That hadnít been decided at that point. And he really didnít push in that direction very much. That was not the kind of a problem that he normally would have tackled, unless he was forced into it. He was, I think, forced into some problems that he had to look at a little bit. After he discovered the interstellar extinction, he did publish a few papers on the law of extinction. He did some spectral photometry of stars and a few things of this sort. But that was a field of astronomy that I think was somewhat alien to him. He was much more at home in doing things like proper motions of stars, in positions of stars, somewhat more classical sort of things. This is pure supposition on my part, of course, but I think he never really felt at ease working in fields like this — of stellar evolution, or stellar energy generation. I remember hearing him give a colloquium once of shell stars. And that was the Pleione incident. That was the only time that I can really recall where he talked about a topic that was then in the forefront of some aspects of astronomy, and was truly astrophysical in character.
DeVorkin:You mention the Pleione incident. Was there a particular incident?
Weaver:Well, it showed shell like characteristics for a period of time. It must have had some outburst.
DeVorkin:This wasnít the community trying to figure out what Pleione was?
Weaver:Oh, Paul Merrill was trying to figure out what Pleione was, and Trumpler reported on that. Paul Merrill was a student at Lick from Berkeley. He was a full-fledged astronomer and well known and established and a member of the National Academy.
DeVorkin:Trumpler in recognizing interstellar extinction for what it was ran directly against H. Shapley. And of course Trumpler did this at about the time Shapley was still strongly resisting the idea. Did Trumpler ever recall any kinds of incidents, running into Shapley?
Weaver:No, and they always appeared to be very friendly when they met, and I was present many times when they met. In fact, I remember once seeing the telegram, when Trumpler was elected to the Academy: it was signed by Shapley, as one of the several members who signed it. So I take it that indeed, Shapley must not have been too angry about the whole affair and wasnít too miffed about it.
DeVorkin:He had no choice.
Weaver:He had no choice, at that time.
DeVorkin:I do know that a number of other people were coming up with evidence for absorption, and Shapley tried to discourage them. Not directly, but on a scientific basis. But Trump certainly came through.
Weaver:He came through with I think an unbeatable argument. It had to be what he said it was. I do remember one curious incident that I wish I knew more about. Trumpler spoke once about discussions with Eddington on this, on interstellar extinction. And he said that Eddington had felt that it was an absolute impossibility. He didnít believe a word of it. I guess Eddington didnít like the idea of lots of stuff there between the stars. He was, for many years I guess, a nonbeliever in interstellar extinction.
DeVorkin:Well, Eddington lived through Kapteynís long quest.
Weaver:Yes, yes, of course. And there was the early hook by Eddington, on stellar motions.
DeVorkin:Thatís right. I can understand how he would be very very cautious. Thatís an interesting recollection, that the two would have met, and Eddington acted as he did. The Academy cable - - this was the National Academy of Sciences?
Weaver:Yes. It was.
DeVorkin:Has that cable been preserved?
Weaver:I think itís around. I think it may be around, among some Trumplerís things at either Rio del Mar, or here.
Weaver:Rio del Mar. That was where the Trumplers lived, when he retired. Itís near (???) and Santa Cruz.
DeVorkin:Oh, I see. Is Mrs. Trumpler living there?
Weaver:Yes, though at the moment, sheís with us in Berkeley. Yes, thatís her home, and she lives there alone, except that a month or so ago, she had a very slight stroke, and so sheís living with us now, until she gains a little more self- assurance.
DeVorkin:For the record, then, Trumplerís papers are there, and also some here?
Weaver:Some there and some here. But I think that Mrs. Trumpler has probably given all the things that were there to the Lick Observatory — Mary Shane has been very active in collecting everything, as you know, and I believe that everything was given to Mary Shane from Rio del Mar.
DeVorkin:What still exists here? By ďhereĒ do you mean your home?
Weaver:I mean our home. There are a few things there. The Trumplers, you see, always had a room and a sitting room in the house that we have, and they have a lot of things that they left there. There are still some of his papers.
Weaver:No, things that were around. For example, some class notes that were left there, as I remember. I think I still have them. His lecture notes. That sort of thing, that just happened to be left at that place, and as I recall, theyíre still there.
DeVorkin:But not research notes and stuff like that?
Weaver:He didnít leave many research notes. He left very little really. He wrote some things up. For example, his lecture notes and class notes were very thoroughly written up. But he didnít leave many things relative to his own research, in an unfinished condition — that is, little papers and things like that. He was working on the RADIAL VELOCITY catalogue. Hereís part of it. I put it together. Hereís a piece of it. I was getting some notes from George Herbig. This is now ready for publication. Itís the collection of radial velocities. There are five volumes like that.
DeVorkin:These are of stars in clusters?
Weaver:These are cluster stars. Yes. That was the thing he worked on for 20 years or more, to get ready. Thatís it.
DeVorkin:Thatís a marvelous adjunct to, letís say, Vasilevskisí work in proper motions.
Weaver:Yes, I think it will be. Though I think also, and Iíve felt this for a number of years, that when that is published (and really the astronomical community has been bugging me for years, they want to know why I donít put it out), I think thereís going to be disappointment in it for the simple reason that the velocities in any one cluster are not very numerous, in many instances. There may be only a few stars. And the other thing is that the accuracy of the individual measurements is not terribly high. It was determined with rather low dispersion spectra.
DeVorkin:From the 36-inch?
Weaver:From the 36-inch telescope. That was the thing he worked on for years and years and years. And Iím afraid, itís just an impression that I have, that people will expect more from it than is actually there.
DeVorkin:It may be a disappointment?
Weaver:I think it may be a disappointment. But itís a crime that I havenít already published it.
DeVorkin:I know how you feel. There are plenty of things I wish Iíd done several years ago, that have been on my desk. The personal correspondence that he may have had, or certainly would have had from time to time throughout his life — is this the material at Rio del Mar that was deposited?
Weaver:I think that material was deposited at the Lick Observatory. But again, I really do not know. I may have told you that I think some of the Trumpler material got lost. There was, for example, one box of stuff uncovered here, in the department. And I do remember at that time, I would have thought that I would have just taken it, it would have been given to me, but it wasnít. And it was in the chairmanís office.
DeVorkin:Who was chairman at that time?
Weaver:Iím not quite sure. I think the one who found it was John Gausted.
Weaver:I remember, there was an exchange, one letter or maybe two, with Einstein, on the red shift. You know, somehow my recollection is that it evaporated. Now, that may be a bad remembrance on my part.
DeVorkin:But thatís not an unusual thing, for someone to see an un-catalogued Einstein letter, and know that it was Einstein — simply to take it, Iím afraid.
Weaver:Yes, There were a few things of that sort in that. And Iím really very sorry that I cannot tell you that that one is in the archives. Iím not sure that it is.
DeVorkin:This would be the Lick Archives.
Weaver:I think if theyíd discovered it here they might have put it over there.
DeVorkin:So it may be in the Manuscripts Division at Bancroft?
Weaver:Yes. But I donít think so. I should run that down some time.
DeVorkin:Yes. And weíre doing, we call it, a ďNational Catalogue of Sources.Ē Itís not explicitly stated in that brochure. And there, we have a list of important names of people we want to recover correspondence from, to generate their life papers. And certainly, Trumpler is on that list.
Weaver:Yes. Well, I will search and see if there arenít some of his things. I tend to save everything, so it sometimes leads to huge piles of paper.
DeVorkin:Thatís good from our standpoint.
Weaver:And I did, for example, at one time save a bunch of his calculations. Not that they in themselves were of any value, but I saved them to give to his grandchildren, so that they would see a sample of his absolutely copperplate handwriting and perfection. I thought they would enjoy seeing it. For example, I have here still all of his cluster diagrams, all of his cluster computations, which I use very often. Here are five volumes.
DeVorkin:Five ring binder volumes with light green covers.
Weaver:They are his notes on all of the clusters that heís ever studied. And you can see what itís like, his copperplate handwriting.
DeVorkin:Itís quite precise.
Weaver:Quite precise. Pictures. All kinds of data. All such things. Here are copies of some of his own plates. Lots of other things. Just, all the notes that he took.
DeVorkin:Do you call them Cluster Notebooks?
Weaver:Yes. As you can see, everything was very carefully done. For example, drawing all these forms up by hand is a big task, you know.
DeVorkin:Right. Are there photographs in there too?
Weaver:Yes, there are photographs; copies of photographs. Some of them are just from publications, but there are many that are photographs that he took at Allegheny. There are lots of Allegheny plates, and Lick plates, and all kinds of things like that.
DeVorkin:Is there anything to be done with this material; because if not, it certainly should be deposited.
Weaver:Oh, it should be deposited. No, Iíve just been using it. I use it as the cluster reference around here when anybody wants it. But it certainly should go into the archives. Oh, there I see, ďWith the compliments of the author, from Clyde Tombaugh, two new faint galactic star clusters.Ē So certainly all those things should and will go into the archives.
DeVorkin:This is work that he had continued while he was at Berkeley.
Weaver:Yes, but was really much earlier. It must have been the original work on star clusters that started him along the lines that ended up with the discovery of interstellar extinction. Itís an interesting thing, to see how he developed as an astronomer when he came to Lick. I think his work at AlleghenyóI say this more from what he had done or what I have seen of his actual papers, rather than from publications or anything at that time. But when he came to Lick, his interest grew, in a very extraordinary way. He began to see, I think, the problem of star clusters, not as the ďproper motions in Cluster XĒ or ďthe proper motions in Cluster Y,Ē but as a problem ďwhat is the nature of star clusters, from an observational point of view?Ē
DeVorkin:He was classifying the forms, the degrees of concentration.
Weaver:Yes, all that sort of thing. And thatís where the cluster diagrams came from, of course, the Trumpler Types. Again, looking at the systematics of the phenomenon. And these volumes are the ones that contain literature search, and his own notes, on the descriptions of these clusters and so on. They, I think, formed the real basis for all the work he did thereafter, in clusters óforming the observing program, and systematizing clusters.
DeVorkin:Well, they certainly should find their way into a working archive.
DeVorkin:Since this was specifically Lick material, would you be depositing it probably at Lick?
Weaver:I suppose; Iíve never specifically thought, this will go here, there, or elsewhere.
DeVorkin:Weíve been keeping very close tabs on the development of the Lick Archive, and theyíre well into the 1940s now in their organization. So this would certainly find a very proper home, within the years that it represents. Trumpler never held a directorial position in Lick, to my knowledge.
DeVorkin:Or anything like that?
Weaver:Or anything like that. I think he had been offered something. There are family stories occasionally. I think he had been offered a directorship, once in Switzerland and once in the Eastern United States. But he never seemed destined for that kind of a job, somehow.
DeVorkin:Thatís interesting. I was vaguely aware of the one in Europe. I didnít know there were any others. Well, Iíd like to encourage you, if you can find time, to think about collecting the material that is still around.
Weaver:Oh, Iíll certainly do it.
DeVorkin:Especially as we are engaged in this archival survey, at this point, we like to know not only what is in archives but what is found outside of archives, and we would list you as an archival source, with the Trumpler material.
DeVorkin:How did you come to go to Mt. Wilson?
Weaver:The idea was that a student from Berkeley would go as an assistant to Mt. Wilson. That is just the way they went to the Lick Observatory. I guess all of the graduate students, or very nearly all of the graduate students from Berkeley went during the summer months to the Lick Observatory as assistants. Now, in this case, one of them would be chosen to go to Mt. Wilson.
DeVorkin:Right. And the contact there was between Trumpler and Baade?
Weaver:Yes. That is what generated that position, yes.
DeVorkin:And when you were chosen, were you aware of how that choice was made?
Weaver:No, I donít know.
DeVorkin:Ok. Did you have to apply for it?
Weaver:No. I was simply invited to go.
DeVorkin:And you went.
Weaver:And I did, with pleasure, because I did look forward to that opportunity. I really thought it would be a marvelous opportunity to get to know the astronomers at Mt. Wilson. I thought it was best of all that I would have a chance to work with E. Hubble. I must confess, I was looking primarily towards an association with Hubble. But as it turned out, it was almost completely an association with Baade.
DeVorkin:And why do you think that happened?
Weaver:I think Baade had planned out better what he wanted done. And Hubble hadnít at all planned out what he wanted done, with a student, how a student would help him.
DeVorkin:Thatís very interesting. Weíre talking about two enormously important people, who were also sort of at opposite poles in the way they were doing things.
Weaver:Yes. They were, very definitely so. They were very different sorts of people. In some ways, it seems to me that in spite of all Hubble did — you know, he was a different kind of person. He had broader interests by far than the others. He was in all kinds of things.
DeVorkin:That must have been very interesting to you.
Weaver:It was. It was very interesting. And he wasnít as well organized, in that sense, as Baade. He just never was, as I look upon it. He worked sort of on the moment, at times. Not that he didnít plan an observing program — that might take him years. But I mean the immediate project or program it seems was somehow not as carefully planned. Here, for example, he had a student coming, and he really hadnít worked out what the student would do. He suggested, I still remember, that I could re-blink some of the plates of galaxies that he had, for either proper motion stars or variables or whatever I could find on them.
DeVorkin:That sounds a bit strange.
DeVorkin:Using the galaxy as a reference?
Weaver:No, no, just looking for stars and peculiar things in nearby galaxies that had some resolution.
DeVorkin:Looking for variables?
Weaver:Variables or nearby proper motion stars, that would whiz by. You know, not that they had anything to do with the galaxies, but here were some plates taken over a long sequence of time, over quite a few years, and so I ought to be able to detect any large proper motion stars that happened to be on the plate. And I could look for variable stars in the galaxies.
DeVorkin:So he was aware of the other uses of these plates.
Weaver:Oh yes. Oh, I donít think he missed things like that. In part, he had already blinked those plates, and he knew what he was going to find, and he told me I was going to find a nice proper motion star on one of them.
DeVorkin:Was this possibly a very subtle test?
Weaver:I donít know. But this was easy to find. There were no problems.
DeVorkin:I know that that is a classic test, to take a known field and give a new student a chance to blink it to see what he can find.
DeVorkin:Well, did you do that sort of thing with him?
Weaver:Yes, I did. And it really never came to anything. And Baade after that kept me so busy, because he had all this photometry that he was doing at that time, on the Selected Areas, in which I joined him completely. And so I measured and reduced plates galore for him, that summer; through the summer.
DeVorkin:So Baade had a very well organized plan for you.
Weaver:Yes. Or at least he had lots of work for me.
DeVorkin:Did Baade have as much assistance on the mountain as Hubble?
Weaver:Oh no. Nobody had any real assistance. They didnít work that way.
DeVorkin:How about M. Humason? He was not directly working for Hubble?
Weaver:Well, he may have been working for Hubble, in the sense that his own program was related to Hubbleís. But he didnít work for Hubble. There were some assistants who worked for the spectroscopists. Paul Merrill had assistants. And the assistants, some of the women who are still there, as a matter of fact, worked in getting the reductions to the sun and doing that sort of thing, for stellar radial velocities.
DeVorkin:Do you remember the names of any of those women?
Weaver:Oh yes. Letís see. Ada Brayton.
DeVorkin:Would one of them be Dorothy Davis Laconthi?
Weaver:She was there as a fellow at one time, that way. As I remember, at a later time, Dorothy Davis was there.
DeVorkin:I know she was associated with Russell, but mainly in her work at Mt. Wilson.
Weaver:Yes. Thatís right. I think that she may actually have been there for a period of time as an assistant. That Iím not sure about.
DeVorkin:Thereís a woman that worked with Baade. Maybe that was later on?
Weaver:That was later on. Yes. Henrietta Swope, and sheís still there.
DeVorkin:Sheís still there?
DeVorkin:Somebody to talk to.
Weaver:Oh yes. Sheíd give you plenty of information. Yes, sheís there. I saw her not long ago and Louise Lowen who is still there. She had been one of the assistants for many many years. She was in the stellar spectroscopic department. But you certainly should talk to Henrietta Swope. Sheís a very close friend of Louise Minkowski, and Louise still goes and sees Henrietta. Henrietta gave the telescope, or started the telescope in South America. I think that her family is able to provide some funds.
Weaver:They have a 60-inch down there, donít they; the first one if I remember correctly?
DeVorkin:Oh, in Chile?
DeVorkin:Thatís a marvelous piece of news. Iím very interested in that.
Weaver:She was the only assistant, as far as I can remember, as far as my own association goes, she was the only person who was ever a regular assistant to Baade, and worked with him.
DeVorkin:Well, when you were an assistant to Baade, what was it like?
Weaver:That was sort of a special case, you know, a young student there. Well, it was marvelous. He really took me under his wing, and I got to know him quite well. I always accompanied him on his observing runs. I spent time with him, a good deal of time with him at first, getting started in the work which he wanted me to do. Then I would spend every other day, an hour or so with him, talking about things. I often was at his home in the evening. Oh, it was a marvelous opportunity for a young student, I must say. They were finally also very good in that I had some telescope time myself, did all my thesis plates there. Including the one topic that Iím sorry I didnít undertake as a thesis. When I first went there, I talked to Baade extensively and here with Trumpler, extensively about problems in galactic structure, about the spiral character of the Milky Way. And the plan that I had always thought I would like to do is somehow to trace out that spiral structure.
DeVorkin:Did they talk about the suspected spiral, structure at that time? This would be 1941-í42?
Weaver:Well, I suppose it was to establish it, yes. I think everyone expected it was there. And certainly, the general character of it, I think many people would have guessed, in that I remember discussing with Baade the distribution of stars across in the sky. And sometimes when we would he out observing, we would discuss the general distribution of stars in the sky and along, the Milky Way, and we were all guessing that we were looking down an arm in Cygnus, because of the big blob of stars there. And we also tried to locate some of the subsidiary features. The thing that I had gotten involved with, probably from discussions with Baade, was what were some of the external galaxies like? And it was actually F. H. Seares who had made observations, at a very early time, that there were color differences in galaxies, and that the arms were blue. That was one of the things I wanted to talk to Hubble about, and did talk to him, some. And so it looked for a while as though I would undertake, as a thesis topic, ďColors of Spiral Arms in Galaxies,Ē so I would have done populations myself. Iím sorry I didnít do that. I did sort of a silly thesis that didnít amount to much.
DeVorkin:I want to talk about your thesis, certainly. Still, right in this particular area, on the distribution of stars and detection of spiral arms did you ever talk with Trumpler or with Baade about the use of the large telescopes at Mt. Wilson to detect, letís say line absorption that might trace out the arms? Or were you limited strictly to stellar distributions?
Weaver:No, we did both. The stellar distributions clearly didnít lead to very good results. That had been tried many times, and of course that was the way everybody was trying to do it. It was just the stuff that B. Bok had started and that others had carried out. There were several theses under Trumplerís direction that were aimed in that direction. For example, an early thesis on the Scutum cloud by Charles Kreiger, who was a student here, student at Lick and some others of that sort. No, I think that what finally was used to trace out the spiral structure was pretty well understood at that time in the 1940s. The principle of it was the fact that the spiral arms in other galaxies were outlined by bright blue stars. The observation really that the W. W. Morgan used, but that Baade and A. Mayall worked on, and that Nick gave a paper on in Paris, in the early times. It was one of the first pictures or the H II regions and the early type stars in the arms. That was really pretty clear before then, and I remember talking, on some of the occasions, to Trumpler — it must have been in the very very early 1940ís — about what kind of a spectrograph we could build to put on some of the telescopes, maybe the Crossley or whatever, that would permit the classification of stars, with the point of view of out ling the spiral arms. That was the problem that Morgan and company finally did in the galaxy.
Weaver:Well, if we just located the B stars that was the first thing, the fainter B stars. And I guess what we would have found, soon off, is that they did have different properties of their lines and characteristics, and we would have found luminosity criteria. That, after all, too, was known, because then there were all the c stars.
DeVorkin:The little c stars — Miss Mauryís stars?
Weaver:Yes. So that was certainly understood. And there were a lot of insights that were all together, and that people could in fact utilize. Itís the same thing I think that happens many times, that an idea is ripe, and ripe or the finding, and lots of people come upon it, and some happen to make use of it and perhaps to publish it first, and so on. For example, I do think that many of the concepts and ideas that Baade used in the two stellar populations were not unique to Baade. They were already in the literature. And the guy who was really, I think, one of the tremendously bright and insightful persons was K. F. Bottlinger, who had written about the stellar populations. If you read the Bottlinger papers, you will find that he had populations of stars and some of the same objects that Baade talked about. W. Virginia for example is a clear one. Bottlinger had all this before Baade did.
DeVorkin:Was this based upon his space velocity studies of different groups of stars?
Weaver:Yes, and spectral type colors, and characteristics in general. He did a lot of work on colors. He really did the whole works, and pointed out that it looked as though there were different groupings of stars. As I recall now, he even had three populations, which is almost a little better than the two, if you come down to it. He had an intermediate one with a high velocity, the Halo population effectively; the very extreme disc population, and spiral arms, and then kind of the general disc population — which in some ways is a more sensible situation than Baade pictured, and which is one that the Russians used to push a good deal, and then finally there were lots of populations and so on. But I think that Bottlinger had a very sound and thorough view of the whole situation of populations in the galaxy. Then unfortunately he died.
DeVorkin:When was that — not so much before all this other work?
Weaver:No, it wasnít. It must have been about 1940, early Ď40, somewhere in there.
DeVorkin:Vyssotsky followed up much of Bottlingerís work, but I guess not really the implications.
Weaver:Not the implications. He almost got there once. He talked about some of these features as being related to the arms and so on, but he never really followed up. No, I donít think he had the insight that Bottlinger had. Bottlinger was a great guy.
DeVorkin:Very interesting. Could there have been a reluctance, based upon Kapteynís early discussion and identification of the two star streams, which finally was interpreted as galactic rotation, and they were worried maybe about the reality of these two different types of observations?
Weaver:I donít think so. On whose part? When you say reluctance, on whose part?
DeVorkin:Possibly Vyssotsky or Bottlinger or others. Since you said it was in the air but nobody had taken the plunge until Baade. What do you think it was in Baadeís personality that allowed him to really take the plunge like this?
Weaver:Oh, he was a terribly positive fellow. And he would support his point of view. And he was looking. Baade was absolutely wonderful, in that he wanted to have a model of what he was doing. He wanted to understand what it meant. He needed to have some theory. He wanted to have a model. Iíd better say it that way. He wanted to have a model of what it was about. And he had, of course, tremendous observational background, a tremendous store of knowledge of what the system was like based upon all the stuff that he had done on external galaxies. He saw our galaxy as one among the galaxies. And he wanted to study it as such. This was not the case with many other individuals working in our own galaxy. That is, they just looked at our galaxy and not at our galaxy among the rest of them. I think that was, in many ways, a departure, that Baade made.
DeVorkin:Now, the three years that you were there, is that correct — Ď40, Ď41, Ď42, summers?
Weaver:Yes, thatís right.
DeVorkin:Ok. This is certainly during the war years.
DeVorkin:And I do know of course, from the well-known historical record, that during that time, there was some jealousy — or maybe this is a little before the jealousy arose, over Baadeís condition, basically imprisoned at Mt. Wilson with the telescope. You were there then during part of that, at least.
DeVorkin:Could you talk about it, how you felt the astronomical community was regarding him?
Weaver:Well, there were tensions at Mt. Wilson, at that time, sometimes severe. I didnít see all of them. I canít give you what I would consider good sound information on many of those things. There were certainly problems between van Maanan and Baade and van Maanan and Minkowski. And that was because, of course, van Maanan as a good Dutchman did not like the Germans coming in and spoiling Holland. Baade and Minkowski often spoke German together, and van Maanan would become furious when he heard the German spoken in the hall. Heíd slam his door shut, and all kinds of things. So there were really strong tensions, on the basis of the war. I think that Baade felt, particularly after 1942, when he also was supposed to stay within a few miles of his home. He had to get special permission to go up to the mountain.
DeVorkin:Oh, I see.
Weaver:He had to get permission to go that far away.
DeVorkin:It was sort of centered on Pasadena, not Mt. Wilson.
Weaver:No, not Mt. Wilson. On Pasadena.
Weaver:I saw him quite a few times later, after í42, when I was with the National Defense Research Committee, because I did a good deal of traveling. There were contracts in Pasadena, and I would go and visit there and talk to them. For example, when I would go to the Baadesí home f or dinner (I went at least once when I went to visit Pasadena), Baade couldnít bring me home. He could give me a ride to his house, because it would be still light. He could go when it was light. But then the curfew would be on, for him. So I was on my own, for going home. And since it was a long way and cabs were very hard in those days, I often walked, and it would be a couple of miles walk home. They lived rather far out. He did feel that. He did feel that in many, many ways.
DeVorkin:Feel it in what ways? Did he ever confide these feelings to you?
Weaver:No, but you see it. You couldnít avoid some aspects of it. But he didnít complain about it to any extent, at least that I heard. I donít remember any talk of it. But he certainly was confined, in many ways.
DeVorkin:Were there actually people checking on him, checking on his whereabouts?
Weaver:That I donít know. I donít know that. But he certainly was very careful not to over-step.
DeVorkin:Was he definitely uncomfortable or on edge? Did he develop any kind of a nervous state because of it?
Weaver:No, I donít remember anything like that. Well, he was a very nervous and jumpy individual.
DeVorkin:I didnít know that.
Weaver:He wouldnít have been sitting here, the way Iíve been sitting here rather calmly and talking to you. He would have been waving his arms, and there would have been a pile of cigarettes that big and there would have been lots of expletives at the right places. He was a very vigorous, animated person. He would have been off telling you all kinds of stories about the astronomical individuals in the world — how this one is crazy and that one —
DeVorkin:Did he talk about these things to you?
Weaver:Oh yes. Very often.
DeVorkin:Are there any that stand out in your mind that you recall he was particularly adamant about?
Weaver:No, Iíd have to give that one some thought, to try to remember just which ones were the best stories. Well, there is one. I do remember one story that Iíve thought about many times, because it was such a fun one, in some ways and so nice in others; so strange in others. It was at a meeting in Ohio, Iím pretty sure, and Baade was there, and we had gone out in the evening, as I remember. He was always surrounded by young people. They just loved him, because he was so animated and so full of information and so on. We were in a bar somewhere, and sitting over across over there was George Gamow. So Baade said, ďHey, Gamow, how are you? You getting paid the expenses?Ē (laughter). Then the parties joined; it was fine.
DeVorkin:Marvelous, getting paid the expenses — that was a time when not many people were.
Weaver:No. One counted them then. Yes. Gamow was fun too. He was here for a quarter, a semester, once.
DeVorkin:That must have been in the fifties some time?
Weaver:In the fifties. Yes.
DeVorkin:During the summers, then, you were working primarily with Baade, but you did have experience with Hubble, too?
Weaver:Yes, though much much less. I really worked with Hubble, only in the first summer. I talked to him, yes , and we would sometimes cross, while observing at Mt. Wilson, that sort of thing, but only that first summer did I do anything, and I donít consider it very important work. It didnít divide up on a 50-50 basis, at all.
DeVorkin:Could it have been because Hubble was an aloof person? Was he aloof?
Weaver:Yes, he was much more aloof. In fact as I have thought about it at times, he seemed aloof from the staff also.
DeVorkin:I didnít realize that.
Weaver:I donít think that he was on a very friendly basis with many people there. But thatís based on very slim evidence, so I donít want to push that. Thatís only an impression that I have. It was a strange sort of grouping at Mt. Wilson, in some ways.
DeVorkin:Now, is this the mountain or Santa Barbara St.?
Weaver:Santa Barbara St. The spectroscopists, for example, always went out to lunch together, over at the McKessonís place nearby there. McKessonís was a drug store. I donít know what happened to Hubble. He just disappeared. He probably went some place. Baade generally took his lunch, or came late and didnít bother. He got there about 11 oíclock, 10 oíclock. There werenít often very close associations. It seems to me that the spectroscopists were the more closely knit group.
DeVorkin:They were doing a lot of instrumentation. That might have been it. A bit of day work. Was William Baum involved?
Weaver:He came much later. Noí, they werenít doing too much instrumentation at that time. Itís just that I think they were a group that somehow worked together or stayed together, or a more friendly group in some ways. I do think that Hubble was somewhat aloof. And I think that people regarded him — again, I say this only on the basis of slim observational information — as somewhat apart from the rest of the group.
DeVorkin:He had a very conflicting image. On the one side, he was very formal, aloof, and quiet. I know that he was at odds with van Maanan, for a number of reasons.
DeVorkin:On the other hand, he frequented the company of movie stars.
Weaver:Yes, of course. But thatís a different kind of thing. And also, it seems to me, his associations with the Huntington Library. He also was associated with others in art. We once ran across some people in Carmel — William Ritschel, who was a painter — whom Trumpler had met, actually, during the eclipse expedition in eclipse expedition in Tahiti at that time. And we visited the Ritschels once, off the coast. He had an island there, a little thing off the coast, south of Carmel actually, a beautiful place. And it turned out that they had known and knew the Hubbles and had been to see them recently, and so on. So Hubble, I suspect, had many connections, different from the scientific world. In ways, in some ways he probably was aloof from it, because he lived in a larger world, I think, than many of the others did. Many of them were certainly very constrained. I donít think the Baades were ever. They always were sort of apart, and Mrs. Baade was very strange. She just disappeared, you know, finally. Nobody knew what happened to her. She just disappeared into Germany.
DeVorkin:I see. Was Walter Sydney Adams active?
Weaver:Oh, yes. Yes indeed. He was the director. He was very active — observed every bright run and measured plates by the dozen.
DeVorkin:Was he part of the spectroscopy group that went out to lunch together or was he apart from everybody else?
Weaver:He was somewhat apart, again. But he would be much more with the spectroscopy group. He wasnít difficult to meet or talk to at all. He was fine. Iíd characterize him somewhat more as a gentle person. Thatís a little bit too much. He was proper. In fact, everybody was much more proper there then than anybody is now. He was more proper. But I wouldnít have ever called him aloof. I talked to him on a number of occasions, clearly not like Baade or those others because I didnít have that many associations, but I certainly spoke to him many times, and he was always kind, polite, and helpful. No complaints.
DeVorkin:We were discussing Walter Sydney Adams.
Weaver:Right. Well, I think that one impression that I carry about Adams was this precision and really, a gentleman working hard at his field in a certain narrow field of astronomy, and doing a magnificent job of it. He did seem to be very hard on the observatory in certain ways that I would hear about, again from both Baade and Minkowski, and that was, he sort of ruled it with an iron hand as far as money went. He seems to have been a very hard New Englander as far as money went. I recall, in one case, they had to argue quite a bit in order to get a new battery to run the photometer, and they wanted an especially large capacity battery, and had to argue with Adams to get this. Small details of this sort must have indicated that he was a bit tight-fisted at ties.
DeVorkin:How did he handle such giants as Hubble and Baade and van Maanan; giants in terms of personalities?
Weaver:I never would have called van Maanan a giant, but thatís a different story. Van Maanan wasnít in the same league with these guys at all.
DeVorkin:But from the standpoint of personality?
Weaver:He had a strong personality, and I think he wouldnít have hesitated to tell Adams off. But I think they all held Adams very much in awe, in some ways. In those days, you didnít talk to the director in an unpleasant way. In all the places with which I had any association, it seemed to me that that was the case that you, always were a little cautious in talking to him. He was a person apart and held a position of high authority. That seems to be something that isnít the case very much now, I believe. You know, everyone is on his own, more or less, and the director just happens to be there. I think thatís also why people donít want to be director — no more power involved — all the problems, but none of the power. I think Adams did a very good job there, handling them, these guys. I donít remember any terrible terrible problems that came up. But you must remember that as a young graduate student, I really wouldnít know the ins and the outs of the place.
DeVorkin:Ok. Itís interesting because his tenure there was very, very long.
DeVorkin:And he was replaced by an instrument man I. S. Bowen.
DeVorkin:And Bowen was around at that time. He certainly was a member of the spectroscopy group, to a certain extent?
Weaver:Well, not really. Because he was at Cal Tech, and he didnít really appear. But it was different. He really wasnít a part of Mt. Wilson. And I suspect that there may have been some resentment at the time, when he became director, that he was going to shift things around and he was not an astronomer, in spite of the fact that heíd done a lot of astronomy. He wasnít an astronomer. And I think that a lot of people didnít like it.
DeVorkin:Thatís very interesting. Ok. Letís get back to a focus here on your experiences directly with your progressing career. How did you come to choose your thesis topic?
Weaver:I guess it stemmed from two things. One, I had been deeply involved in photometry at Mt. Wilson, all that time, with Baade, and I had also worked with photometry on the Berkeley campus here . That is, I had as a student undertaken some photometric projects with the little telescope in my senior year and so on, when Iíd had greater freedom.
DeVorkin:This is all photographic.
Weaver:All photographic, yes. And so, I sort of drifted, Iím sorry to say, into a project that involved photometric work. I was interested in the galaxy, and in the problem of structure of the galaxy. And so, those two things together made me want to investigate a region which I thought might be related to spiral arms — a region of the galaxy in which extinction was very great and so worked on the problem of the distribution of stars and the character of the obscuring cloud in the Aquila region of the Milky Way. It was something that I hadnít thought of as a thesis, at first. I had thought of it really only as a kind of project that I was free to start when I had the use of the telescope at Mt. Wilson and it simply developed. I must say I just drifted into that one. It developed into a thesis. It was an easy thing to do, since I had already done some of the photometry.
DeVorkin:Who was your advisor?
Weaver:Trumpler. I really think it was both Trumpler and Baade, in a very real way, but Trumpler was the official advisor.
DeVorkin:Your contact with both Mt. Wilson and with Berkeley is very reminiscent, but slightly different than N. U. Mayallís contact between Lick and Wilson.
DeVorkin:Did you have any contact with Mayall at this time, and talk to him about possibly a torn allegiance?
Weaver:No. I certainly knew Nick very well. He was a young assistant astronomer. He and Art Wyse were the young assistant astronomers at Mt. Hamilton at that time.
DeVorkin:Art Wyse was killed in the war?
Weaver:Yes. In a balloon accident — a dirigible accident.
DeVorkin:So this was before the war.
Weaver:Oh yes, this was before the war. Yes, it was in Ď39. Well, really í39 — that period.
DeVorkin:Ok. There was nothing specific in terms of an impression?
Weaver:No. Thatís an interesting thing. Iíd never thought of it that way.
DeVorkin:Well, we were talking about your thesis and interstellar obscuration.
Weaver:And so it was on that problem, which involved photometry at Mt. Wilson. Itís strange that I never did any work on the thesis at Mt. Hamilton, which was peculiar, in some ways. So it was photometry at Mt. Wilson with the 60-inch telescope. And both photometry and spectroscopy with the 18-inch Schmidt at Palomar, where I first got to know Fritz Zwicky, who introduced me to that telescope and acted as my mentor there.
DeVorkin:Was this spectroscopy basically with an objective?
Weaver:Yes. And it was classification of stellar spectra. So what I had for huge numbers of stars was spectra colors and magnitudes. So then my discussion was centered on the character of those stars and their distribution on the basis of that information.
DeVorkin:And what came of this work?
Weaver:Well, I had good determinations of the distance of that dark rift in the Milky Way. I had some indications of stellar density fluctuations. I did determine the value of the ratio of interstellar reddening to extinction. And no one of these things was really very spectacular or very different, or terribly interesting.
DeVorkin:But itís important material.
Weaver:Well, its useful material, but I donít think it was very earth shaking.
DeVorkin:Wasnít there a big problem with reddened B stars at that time, especially in getting a good idea what their luminosities were?
Weaver:Yes. There was always the problem. Thatís been a long term continuing problem, of the absolute magnitudes, the luminosities of these things. But this didnít help on that one at all. There were other ways to do it.
DeVorkin:Because you were working on obscuration?
Weaver:Yes. Well, one of the discussions that went on was whether or not one could use mean extinction, or whether the obscuring material was so spotty that you had to do each star. And I think that here, J. Stebbins and A.E. Whitford pretty well showed that it was so spotty, you had to do each star. There may have been a slight counter-example in this case, where one area of the sky of several degrees was sufficiently uniform so that you could apply, in that area, at least to reasonable distances, a mean value in stellar extinction. But it wasnít great shakes. There was lot of interesting photometry in it. And I guess it was one of the earliest (maybe the first time it was used) uses of the Hess Diagram — do you know that term?
DeVorkin:Iíve heard of it.
Weaver:Thatís what you call the H-R Diagram with the numbers. The observational data that you start with are the apparent magnitudes and colors. Those are the observationally easy to determine quantities for a large number of stars. You divide the H-R Diagram up into cells, and you tell how many stars are of each magnitude color interval. So you see, itís a three dmemsiona1 magnitude-color diagram, with the third dimension being the number of stars of any apparent magnitude color.
DeVorkin:I see. When was this work done?
Weaver:Ď42. Thatís with the absolute magnitudes. I have a Festschrift volume in which some of the first information on this type of diagram is there, and it is by R. Hess, who was a German astronomer who developed it. His applies to a given volume in space, so with it one would have then is a multi-dimensional luminosity function.
DeVorkin:Ok. Which Festschrift was it?
Weaver:Festschrift fur Stromgren. The observational technique is to use a Hess Diagram, moved on this plane, moved along a curve, which is the interstellar extinction curve, weighted according to the number of stars that you can see in each volume element of space. So itís this combination of things, and I think it may have been the first time that that had ever been tried, and I did that in my thesis. Again no world-shaking thing, but it was a different way to do things, and it was interesting.
DeVorkin:You seem a big disappointed about it now. Were you disappointed then?
Weaver:Oh no. I donít think I was disappointed. I thought then it was a good piece of work.
DeVorkin:It sounds like something that had to be done.
Weaver:It had to be done and I did it thoroughly. There were several papers on it I never really followed it up very much after that. But it wasnít as interesting as the spiral structure of the external galaxies would have been. I would have done Andromeda. I would have done the first work to get ready for our own galaxy. I would have done what Baade actually did.
DeVorkin:Right. Of course, he did it during blackouts.
Weaver:Yes, he had an easier time. But itís amazing how much of that already was in the literature, particularly quite a reasonable paper by F. H. Seares that point out that thereís a distribution of color in the arms of several external galaxies.
DeVorkin:Ok óunless there were some interesting experiences, or things that happened to you during your graduate years here at Berkeley, up to your thesis, I think we should move on now to your choice of what to do after that. Of course the war was in progress.
Weaver:So it was made for me in many ways.
DeVorkin:Yes. How were these decisions made for you?
Weaver:Well, I started with a choice, and that was that I did get the National Research Fellowship or one of the two National Research Fellowships in í42-í43.
DeVorkin:So the war was still not upon you, then?
Weaver:It was coming fast. In fact, it was really upon us. The war had already broken out, and I still remember doing my thesis in blackouts here. See, I was a graduate student only two years, so I really went through very quickly.
DeVorkin:Your senior year, you were already taking graduate courses.
Weaver:Iíd already done a graduate year in effect. And the pressure was on. I did want I did want to finish in Ď42. In fact I had to, because obviously everybody was going to be in the war after all. I still remember walking home from the campus here. We lived over on the South Side. Through blackouts and so on. So I felt very fortunate in being able to go on as much as I did, and I went to Yerkes in the summer of Ď42.
DeVorkin:How did you get the fellowship? Did you apply directly?
Weaver:I applied. And my sponsors were, as I remember, Baade and Hubble and Trumpler. So it was a good set of sponsors. And I did receive it, to work on clusters, and to do this thing that Kuiper had really started. That was the goal that I must admit I was working on — looking up the wrong river, or barking up the wrong tree, or something, because I was thinking of it in terms of chemical composition, as I had mentioned to you. I was looking really to start by determining some of the abundances in the Pleiades and the Hyades and some other clusters.
DeVorkin:What technique — was it spectroscopy?
Weaver:Oh, just good old fashioned curve of growth and line analysis, carried on at McDonald with P. Swings and O. Struve. And Jesse Greenstein of course was very active there at that time.
DeVorkin:They were all three at Yerkes-McDonald?
Weaver:Yes, at Yerkes. They just went to observe at McDonald.
DeVorkin:How long was Swings there?
Weaver:Oh, he was there for several years, off and on. And he got caught during the war, of course. He couldnít go home. So he was always around. And he finally ended up at Pasadena, where I used to see him. He was in optics. He left astronomy for a period, during the war, and worked as sort of a manager or a scientist in a local optics concern there.
DeVorkin:Was Kuiper at Yerkes yet?
Weaver:Oh yes. Yes he was at Yerkes at that time.
DeVorkin:And so in doing Kuiperís work you must have been pretty close to Kuiper?
Weaver:Yes, I knew the Kuipers very well. And of course he had also been close to the Trumplers, so I knew him through the Trumpler family. Yes, in fact, I had very close association and we still have close association with Sarah Kuiper.
DeVorkin:If I may interject, thinking about papers again, do you know the status of Kuipersí papers? Are they being deposited somewhere?
Weaver:Oh, that I really donít know.
DeVorkin:Ok, what was your experience like during the war years at Chicago?
Weaver:Well, for a long time, I wouldnít have known the war existed, but it got closer to me all the time.
DeVorkin:You were at Yerkes?
Weaver:I was at Yerkes, and Yerkes was beginning to fall apart, because of the war, in the sense that more and more people were leaving to go into war work. What happened was that gradually people in science would be picked off. You just felt the pressure to do something, and it just got stronger and stronger. At that time, Gerard Kuiper had already left. He was working at Cambridge, towards part of that time. I was there not quite a year. I didnít last at Yerkes quite a year. I never did complete my fellowship.
DeVorkin:Because of the war?
Weaver:Because of the war. And Kuiper had left. He was at Cambridge. Dan Popper had left or was in process of leaving. He ended up here at Berkeley, in the Radiation Lab. Jesse Greenstein and Louie Henyey had already dropped out or were in process of dropping out from astronomy, and were doing optical design, at Yerkes, but still, not doing astronomy. I started the work, and did some. I got a lot of photographic plates, got a lot of spectra, and started doing a lot of tracing of them. I got particularly interested in calcium abundance problems, and started to work on some metallic line stars, which Jesse Greenstein was also interested in. I did some work on novae. That was almost incidental. And thatís when I really started the first work on novae. I had done a little with Baade in novae searches. In fact, I had a paper or material for a paper on the novae before that.
DeVorkin:Did you have any contact with S. Chandrasekhar?
DeVorkin:W. W. Moran certainly stayed through the war years at Yerkes.
DeVorkin:And your interests werenít too far apart.
Weaver:We worked very closely on many things, and I came to know Bill Morgan quite well and Chandra too. I must say in later years, I think heís been very piqued with me. I think he got angry with me because I was a Chairman of the Publications Committee of the American Astronomical Society when he was the editor of the ApJ and I think that led to certain tensions that have remained. But I was starting to work with Chandra on a problem. I was going to do the H- calculation, which he wanted me to do. Not that I had a very good background in theory, but I could have handled that one, I think, and I had read the literature. It was finally done by Louie Heinrich, who was one of Chandraís students there.
DeVorkin:Louie Heinrich? That was the H- problem that was started by R. Wildtís identification?
DeVorkin:Did you become aware that certain people were disappearing at Chicago into some strange project [Manhattan Project]?
Weaver:No. I was always at Yerkes. I think I went only once to Chicago. No, I wasnít acquainted with that project at all. I got acquainted with it a little bit in mysterious ways when I went to Cambridge and worked in optics. But not very importantly.
DeVorkin:Was that the next few years?
Weaver:No, that was the next few months, almost. See, I didnít finish my fellowship. I went, I donít remember exactly when, but it must have been during the summer í43. The pressure was really getting very high. I was invited to come. What were the two things? I was first invited to come to Cambridge, and I was to talk about a junior fellowship at Harvard. I was in fact awarded a junior fellowship, which I turned down because of the war. I was also invited by Ted Dunham, whom I had known at Mt. Wilson, to spend a while talking to him about working in the National Defense Research Committee as his technical aide. Dunham was the head of the optics division of the NDRC and I finally accepted the position as the technical aide to the optics division of NDRC. So I worked with Ted Dunham, for somewhat less than a year. And the office was at MIT, 6109.
DeVorkin:You remember the room number?
Weaver:Yes, I remember the number. At MIT, it was George Harrisonís office at the time. He was the chief of the whole division, and Ted Dunham was the chief of the optics section.
DeVorkin:Iím interested in when you first became aware of the Manhattan Project, actually?
Weaver:Well, the first inkling of the Manhattan Project was at that time, because there were some questions or optics under abnormal conditions. And they werenít behaving right, correctly, and some optics would darken and there were some problems with optics, all very hush-hush and secret, and so we did attempt to supply certain types of optics.
DeVorkin:Did they give you the ranges under which the optics had to perform?
Weaver:No, not at all. Now, Ted Dunham may have known. I did not know, although I had full clearance on everything. But that was, at that time, really the most secret thing that I had any inkling of. And I didnít know what was going on, at that time.
DeVorkin:You didnít know there was a bomb?
Weaver:No, in no way. I didnít know anything about it, except there were some terribly unusual conditions under which optics were being used. They were being used, you know, in examining things in the pile, etc.
DeVorkin:I guess people were using and had a tremendous need for detection devices, to see what was happening with the trigger for the atomic bomb at that time. And I believe that people back at Cal Tech were working on it. Did you have any knowledge of this?
Weaver:Not at that particular time.
Weaver:No inkling at all of that aspect of things. But I did come to Berkeley. And then, of course, it was all clear.
DeVorkin:Once you were at the Rad Lab.
DeVorkin:So, did you hear of and know of the bomb, before the bomb was dropped?
Weaver:Oh yes, of course.
DeVorkin:Well, possibly it might be a good place to stop, right at the point now, between Ď44 and Ď45 and your return to the Rad Lab, because that really returns you to Berkeley.
And to the rest of my career, right. Yes. Well, maybe we can try again.
 Daughter of R. Trumpler
 Astronomy I, II (Gunn, 1926)
 A listing from the late 18th Century of nebulae and star clusters
 The Studentís Observatory closed when the Astronomy Department moved to Campbell Hall in the Ď60s
 Astronomy (Gunn (???) (1926). Two volumes on the Solar System and Stellar Astronomy
 Astronomical Society of the Physics
 Stellar Atmospheres (???)
APJ 98 (1943) p. 13
 See R. Trumpler and H. Weaver. Statistical Astronomy (U. Cal., 1953, reprinted by Dover) p. 364-411 provides references to early work of Bottlinger and J. Oort.
 See Trumpler & Weaver. Opcit. p. 392.
 Festschrift fur Stromgren (???).
Session I | Session II