Oral History Transcript — Dr. Ralph Goodman
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
Access form | Project support | How to cite | Print this page
See the catalog record for this interview and search for other interviews in our collection
Ralph Goodman; September 19, 2007
ABSTRACT: In this interview, Ralph Goodman discusses topics such as: Acoustical Society of America; underwater acoustics; John Johnson; Julian Frederick; acoustical oceanography; Isadore Rudnick; Morris Greenspan; Fred N. Spiess; family background and childhood; going to the University of Michigan; Max Dresden; Cy Leventhal; biophysics; George Uhlenbeck; Otto LaPorte; Joaquin Luttinger; Navy Electronics Laboratory; Colorado State University; Sam Marshall; Naval Research Laboratory (NRL); Naval Ocean Research and Development Activity; North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); University of Mississippi and the National Center for Physical Acoustics; Pennsylvania State University; Applied Research Laboratory.
Bass:Today is September 19, 2007, and we are at the Natural Center for Physical Acoustics buildings on the University of Mississippi campus. The time is about 1:35, and Iím about to interview Ralph Goodman for the Acoustical Society of America Archives and History Committee.
Good afternoon, Ralph. Can you tell us your present address?
Goodman: 176 Summer Mountain Road in Spring Mills, Pennsylvania, 16875.
Bass:What is your present telephone number?
Goodman: At that address, itís 814-422-7664.
Bass:Who is your present employer?
Goodman: The University of Southern Mississippi.
Bass:What is their business address?
Goodman: The business address of the Department of Marine Science is 1020 Balch Blvd., The Stennis Center in Stennis, Mississippi.
Bass:What is your present job title?
Goodman: Research professor.
Bass:How long have you been with Southern?
Goodman: About six years.
Bass:What do you do there?
Goodman: I do research in underwater acoustics, and I have a few students.
Bass:Okay, letís get to the gist of this, which has to do with your long career in acoustics. What year did you join the Acoustical Society of America?
Bass:And what was your age and profession at the time? Itís a roundabout way of asking your age now.
Goodman: [Laughs] Letís see, in í55 I would have been 28 years old.
Bass:What was your profession at that time?
Goodman: I was a student.
Bass:In what areas of acoustics were you interested in when you first came to the Acoustical Society of America?
Goodman: Underwater acoustics.
Bass:What were your reasons for joining the Acoustical Society?
Goodman: I was with a small group at Ann Arbor, and John Johnson and Julian Frederick were the bosses, and they were both underwater acousticians, and they asked me to join.
Bass:Was this the same John Johnson that later went to Penn State?
Goodman: Yes it was.
Bass:Oh, wow. Was there anyone in particular who encouraged you to join the ASA?
Goodman: It would have been John Johnson.
Bass:What ASA committees were you most familiar with or most active in?
Goodman: Underwater acoustics and acoustical oceanography. I guess those were the main ones, yes.
Bass:What positions in the Acoustical Society did you hold or presently hold?
Goodman: I was a member of the Council, and thatís the only one. Oh, I was the Associate Editor with the journal from about 1983-1987.
Bass:Are there any particular ASA meetings that stand out as being something special to really remember?
Goodman: Yes, the first one that I went to was at Penn State University. I think that was in 1955. That was a special one because of the fear I had for the wonderful Bruce Lindsey, that I later found out was wonderful. He was sitting in the front row when I made my presentation. The second one was the meeting, which I was the Chair, and that was the Acoustical Society in New Orleans in 1994.
Bass:Why did that stand out in your mind so much?
Goodman: Because I was the Chair of that one. [Laughs]
Goodman: The pressure, right.
Bass:Are there any ASA members that you met that have specifically influenced your future?
Goodman: Yes, John Johnson was particularly important.
Bass:But you met him while he was at the university and you were a student.
Goodman: Yes, but even afterwards he still had a great influence on me. I did some work at Penn State University for a while as a visiting professor and also, one summer as a consultant. He was very encouraging. The other members that had a lot to do with me deciding the Acoustical Society was a very important part of my life was Izzy Rudnick, Moe Greenspan, and Fred N. Spiess.
Bass:Thatís interesting. You know, John Johnson was a person who had a lot of influence on my early participation in ASA, also. He was very interested in young people on the society.
Goodman: He was a friend and a father figure for me in the field.
Bass:Is there anything you care to say about the ASA past, present, and future about the organization itself?
Goodman: Well, like all societies, it has its ups and downs, but I think particularly ASA, of all the societies Iíve been member of, seem to always be the smoothest operating and had a wonderful feeling of congeniality that I didnít see in the other societies.
Bass:What do you see as the future of ASA? Any big changes?
Goodman: I donít see any reason for a change. Perhaps weíll play a bigger role in some societal adventures, but I think itís a wonderful society the way it is, and I see no reason for it to change, except as the sub fields change it should change its emphasis, perhaps. But that will happen because of the members.
Bass:As time progresses for the past decade or more, the society has become more and more an international society. What are your feelings on that?
Goodman: I have mixed emotions about that. The formalities that go along with having international alliances are significant. Iíve been involved in Europe for some period of time, and I think that those formalities tend to take away from the wonderful informalities that we have in our society. I donít think itís terribly serious at this point, but it could be if we end up being connected with too many other societies.
Bass:Besides the Acoustical Society, what other professional organizations do you belong to?
Goodman: I belonged to the American Physical Society in the past and the Marine Technology Society. Those are the main ones.
Bass:Have you provided an oral history interview for any other organization?
Goodman: No, I havenít, Hank.
Bass:Good. Letís go back now in time, back to past history. This is one of the reasons we give you this in advance is so youíll be able to go back and look. The first one if you can find it, when and where were you born?
Goodman: I was born in Detroit in 1927.
Bass:I bet Detroitís changed a lot in time, hasnít it?
Goodman: It probably has. I havenít been back for many years.
Bass:Before entering college, what were some of the places that you lived?
Goodman: Before entering college, I lived in Detroit until I joined the army in 1944, and when I was in the Army I was sent to Japan. Those are the only places.
Bass:What were your parentsí occupations?
Goodman: My father worked for the Packard Motor Company as a mechanic. My mother was a housewife.
Bass:How would you describe yourself during those early years?
Goodman: Thatís a difficult question, probably very passive. I was very much under the influence of my father, who was also a very quiet man in those days, and I would say I was probably typical of a child who was raised in a blue-collar neighborhood.
Bass:As a youngster, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Goodman: I had no ideas.
Bass:None at all?
Goodman: None at all. Since I came up in a family that lived in a neighborhood where most of the people were blue collar, it was very difficult to look too far ahead.
Bass:Before college, what were your hobbies? Any special interests?
Goodman: When I was in high school, music was probably my main hobby. I had no interestÖ I was not very good at sports in those days, but the heroes would have been probably baseball players of the time.
Bass:Which of these subjects and activities and events did you most like in high school?
Goodman: Mathematics was the subject that I liked the most. Mechanical drawing probably came second. But music really did dominate my high school interests.
Bass:Looking back, was there any person or persons during that timeframe that had a particularly large influence on your career and your future?
Goodman: Yes, the family we lived with in a flat came from Boston. Both had an education far beyond the rest of the neighborhood. The man taught manual training and had his bachelorís degree from a school in Boston. His wife also had an education, and probably his wife had more influence on me culturally than anyone else.
Bass:Okay, next weíre going to talk about the college years. First of all, the undergraduate-level years. Where did you go to college, and what was your major?
Goodman: First of all, before I formally enrolled in college, when I was in the army, for a few months I was in the army specialized training program, where I was sent to the University of Michigan. At that time I had no major; it was just a technical background. When I began college, I began as an electrical engineer and switched to physics in the engineering school at the University of Michigan.
Bass:What made you choose the University of Michigan?
Goodman: It was close to home. I was on the GI Bill, and it was something that would extend my GI Bill over a longer period of time. It probably wasnít at all based on the fact that it had a reputation of being a good school. I didnít know that.
Bass:I was in the same category, actually. I didnít know any better.
Bass:What made you start out in electrical engineering? What made you change to physics?
Goodman: I had some friends who were taking physics courses. I had already taken a physics course when I was in the Army, and I had a fascination with the approach that was taken there. Probably, a person who had more influence on that than anyone was when I was in the Army, I met Max Dresden, and he was, at that time, a graduate student at Michigan. I believe he was a graduate student in Holland, but he was teaching at Michigan. His charm and approach to subjects, especially his interest in music as well, had an influence that let me think that I wanted to be a physicist like him.
Bass:Iím going to skip the next question since you really have already answered it. As an undergraduate, did you belong to any special clubs or participate in any special school activities?
Goodman: Not really. I hung around mostly with fellow veterans and did the things that veterans hang around and do. I had no interest in anything in chess or math. Sports, I did play a fair amount of tennis and basketball at that time. Music I had given up in high school because I wasnít able to practice much music at the time I was in college.
Bass:Were you married at that time?
Goodman: No, I was not.
Bass:Was there any particular person, any particular teacher or professor, which had a major influence on you as an undergraduate student?
Goodman: I mentioned Max Dresden. Other ones were probably Professor Cork and Michigan. Probably, he was the major influence in terms of having an influence on what I wanted to be.
Bass:What was his subject?
Goodman: Nuclear physics.
Bass:During that period of your life, who was sort of your inspirational model? Did you have one, some particular scientist, political leader, or someone that you really looked up to?
Goodman: Probably not, except the ones that I mentioned. I just sort of flowed with the time, I guess.
Bass:Did you ever participate in a rally, a protest, or cause, anything like that?
Goodman: Not in undergraduate, no.
Bass:Looking back, would you go to the same college and take the same major if you could start all over again?
Goodman: Yes, I would.
Bass:Great. Letís go on and talk about your graduate-level training. First of all, where did you do your masterís degree?
Goodman: At the University of Michigan.
Bass:And what led you to do the masterís degree there?
Goodman: I had, upon graduation of the university with a bachelorís degree, married another student who was a medical student at Michigan, so it made sense for us to both stay there at school.
Bass:How were you supported during that period of time?
Goodman: To begin with as a teaching assistant. I also worked in bookstores and chemistry departments and any other way I could make a few bucks. I did work in an assembly line in an automobile factory for a while, as well.
Bass:I guess it motivated you to find something else to do.
Bass:Were there any specific research projects that you worked on?
Goodman: At the masterís level, no. At Michigan, there was no requirement for a masterís thesis, so I just essentially was filling in all the courses that I wanted to continue on with.
Bass:Letís move onto the doctorate, then. Did you continue on for doctorate? Obviously you did. What college?
Goodman: At the University of Michigan.
Bass:What led you to stay at that particular school?
Goodman: By that time, Iíd become quite attracted to the faculty, and also the fact that my wife was in medical school had a great deal to do with it, as well.
Bass:How were you supported during your PhD studies?
Goodman: I began with a fellowship with the Department of Health Education and Welfare. I was working in biophysics under Cy Leventhal at that time. I had to give that up when I became interested in theoretical physics, and so at that time I did teaching assistant work. Also, in my last year, I was an instructor at the university.
Bass:Sounds like there was more than one project that you were involved in. Which were they?
Goodman: I was involved in biophysics and the study of the phage craze at the time. We had a good program at Michigan with lots of visiting professors, many of whom have received the Nobel Prize since then. Then I switched to theoretical physics and worked under Joaquin Luttinger on solid-state physics.
Bass:What was your doctorate thesis?
Goodman: I worked on determining the mass of electrons and holes in Germanium and Silicon.
Bass:Who at the school at the doctorate level had the greatest influence on your career?
Goodman: There were three people: George Uhlenbeck; Otto LaPorte; and my thesis advisor, Joaquin Luttinger.
Bass:While you were a student, did you ever teach any classes? I think you just mentioned you did.
Goodman: Yes, I did. I taught both as a teaching assistant and as an instructor.
Bass:What classes did you teach?
Goodman: I taught the general physics course, the engineering physics course, and also a course in first year physics for non-science majors.
Bass:Letís go into other training. Were you ever in the military?
Goodman: Yes, I was from 1944-1946.
Bass:How long did you serve?
Goodman: About two and a half years.
Bass:What were your duties while in the military?
Goodman: I was a private in the Army.
Bass:Thatís just a general description of duties?
Goodman: I was a private in the infantry, yes. Thatís enough. Well, I was in the parachute division, as well.
Bass:So you were airborne?
Goodman: Yes, I was airborne.
Bass:Did you attend any military training schools other than basic training? I guess you went to airborne school. Did you go to others?
Goodman: I went to airborne; I went to flame-throwing school.
Goodman: Yes, in Camp Reilly, Kansas.
Bass:Wow. Is there anything that you recall about your military service that you feel had some significance on your future?
Goodman: Yes, to get out. [Laughter]
Bass:Itís sort of like working on the assembly line in Detroit?
Goodman: Right, exactly, yes.
Bass:What was your highest rank?
Goodman: Private First Class.
Bass:While you were there, did you deploy overseas? I think you said—
Goodman: Yes, I did. I spent about 13 months in Japan.
Bass:What was that experience like for a young person out of Detroit?
Goodman: Strange. I had no background that would lead me to want to learn the language or learn about the history. I learned some, of course, but I had no motivation except to follow my orders and jump out of airplanes. I did have one set of experiences while I was there. I was on the 11th airborne track team for one year, and as a result I got to travel a lot and meet a lot of people from other arms of the service.
Bass:You think that had much influence on how you view the world as a whole?
Goodman: Yes, it did. It led me to believe that there was a world outside of the southeast side of Detroit.
Bass:That probably happens when you go into the military.
Goodman: Well, I also learned a lot about human interactions that I didnít see in Detroit.
Bass:Were you involved in any technical, business, or trade schools?
Goodman: No, I wasnít.
Bass:How about correspondence courses?
Goodman: No, I never took any.
Bass:Letís go on about your professional career. After college, what was your first place of employment, title, and what did you do there?
Goodman: I went to the Navy Electronics Laboratory in San Diego, California. I was a scientist there. Iím not exactly sure what the title was. I worked on two aspects. I started to do some work in solid-state physics, but that program sort of waned. Then I did some work on elastic theory and acoustics, and I developed a model for thin shells, which was published.
Bass:Was there anyone there that had particular influence on your work?
Goodman: No, there wasnít. Thatís one of the reasons, ultimately, why I left.
Bass:How long did you stay?
Goodman: I stayed a year and a half.
Bass:And you were still a scientist when you left?
Goodman: Yes, I was. I left in 1959.
Bass:Where did you go then?
Goodman: I went to Colorado State University. They offered me a job as an assistant professor, and I went there in 1959.
Bass:What special area of research did you pursue there?
Goodman: I began by working in solid-state physics again, and I had several graduate students in that field, but then I was encouraged to do some more work in underwater acoustics. Probably, John Johnson had some affect on me at that time. Then I worked with a colleague there named Sam Marshall, and we not only did theoretical acoustics there (propagation, scattering, etc.), but we also developed a small laboratory.
Bass:Is that the same Sam Marshall that I met down south?
Goodman: Yes it is, same one.
Bass:Was there anyone there, other than Sam, who had a particular influence on your career?
Goodman: Yes, the chairman of the department gave me every opportunity I could imagine to do what I wanted. I had a great deal of freedom there. I did take a two-year leave of absence — I meant to take one year, but stayed for two — to go to the Saclant Undersea Research Centre in Italy as a research scientist, where I worked on underwater acoustics.
Bass:How long did you stay in Colorado State?
Goodman: I stayed there until 1968.
Bass:So that comes out to be nine years. And you rose up through the ranks?
Goodman: Yes, I became a full tenured professor. It was easy. The approach they had to reviewing tenure and promotion was one where it didnít involve the individual as much as it does today in most universities. It was a wonderful period of my life.
Bass:Why did you leave?
Goodman: Because I wanted to work more in the ocean. And also, the director at the Naval Research Laboratory, Allen Burman, asked me if I would apply to be an Associate Director there at the laboratory, which was an enormous amount of responsibility. I should also mention, to back up, the last year I was at Colorado State, I was the chairman of the department.
Bass:So your next job, then, was to go to the Naval Research Laboratory?
Goodman: Right, as the associate director. We had four divisions. We had the Underwater Sound Reference Division in Orlando, and the Acoustics Division at NRL, and Ocean Engineering Division and an Oceanography Division at that time. I was the first director of that directorate.
Bass:Which directorate is that?
Goodman: Oceanology, it was referred to.
Bass:This was in Washington, the NRL?
Goodman: Yes, in Washington, D.C.
Bass:How long were you there?
Goodman: I stayed there until 1976.
Bass:And your primary function — What did you accomplish when you were there?
Goodman: Well, we built up the Acoustics Division and all the other divisions as well. They had been newly formed, and we rounded those out. The Acoustics Division also absorbed the Hudson Laboratory that was part of Columbia University. When that was closed, many of the scientists came down to NRL to become members of the Acoustics Division. We went to sea a lot. I, actually, as an associate director, was able to spend a fair amount of time at sea and, actually, was chief scientists on two major experiments.
Bass:And you left there in 1976?
Goodman: I left there in 1976 to take a job at the newly formed Naval Ocean Research and Development Activity in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi.
Bass:What was your position there?
Goodman: I was the director.
Bass:When you were there, was there any particular person who influenced you to go there or influenced you while you were there?
Goodman: Yes, Bob Frosch had a lot to do with my taking the job. He encouraged me to apply for it and was encouraging all during the time for the early days of the organization.
Bass:How long did you stay at NORDA?
Goodman: I stayed there until 1981.
Bass:What do you think that you achieved primarily during that time?
Goodman: Well, we started from scratch. We had essentially no laboratory at all, we had a number of people who came from the Naval Oceanographic Office, and then we also did a lot of recruiting. We set up a numerical oceanographic group doing computational work that still to this day is well known as one of the best in the world. The experimental program was slow to develop, but we had no ships like had at the Naval Research Laboratory, but we did the Navyís vessels and developed a fairly substantial operation at sea.
Bass:How long did you stay there?
Goodman: I stayed until 1981.
Bass:And why did you leave?
Goodman: I was offered the directorship at the Saclant ASW Research Center in Italy.
Bass:Why did you consider that more attractive?
Goodman: I had a background in Italy and thought this would be a wonderful opportunity.
Bass:I understand itís a beautiful place.
Goodman: Yes, it is. The town of Lespeazi itself is not so attractive, but the countryside and the people, of course, are marvelous.
Bass:What were particular projects there that you take pride in?
Goodman: Well, there were two. We did several things in underwater acoustics. There was a fairly active program in whatís called active towed arrays. We had several other projects. We had very good oceanographic groups; small, but very effective. We established a research program in whatís called the GIN Sea, the Greenland, Iceland, Norwegian Sea, where we determined a great deal of important oceanographic properties that were important in acoustics. That group worked closely with the numerical group in acoustic propagation. The other is I was primarily responsible for the acquisition of a new research vessel, RV Alliance, that is today probably still the quietest surface vessel in the world.
Bass:How long were you at the Saclant?
Goodman: I stayed until 1987. I was there for two three-year terms. I was the first person asked to extend as the director, and that was a great privilege to keep the program going, as well as to oversee the construction of the vessel.
Bass:Any other experiences while you were there that stand out in your mind?
Goodman: Working with NATO taught me a lot. NATO is an interesting organization. To get approval of anything, it requires all nations to agree, so one has to be very diplomatic and also to make sure the program at the Center did cover either all or most of the NATO nations.
Bass:When you left the Saclant Centre, what was your next position?
Goodman: I came to the National Center for Physical Acoustics.
Bass:What was your position there?
Goodman: I was the director.
Bass:The first director.
Goodman: The first director, thatís right, yes.
Bass:So you stood up another organization?
Goodman: Right. Creating things was a lot of fun.
Bass:Was there anything in particular, any particular person who had an influence on your career during that period in time?
Goodman: Let me think about that for a bit.
Bass:In a positive way.
Goodman: Probably the man sitting next to me right now, Hank Bass. And also some of the young people coming in over that period of time.
Bass:Mention a few of those. Itís a pretty impressive list.
Goodman: Kenny Gilbert, Doug Shields, Richard Raspet.
Goodman: Larry Crumb, yes.
Bass:If you look at the literature now, itís a pretty impressive list.
Goodman: Yes, theyíve done okay for themselves, yes. In spite of me. [Laughter]
Bass:Well, again, you stood it up. How long did you stay at the National Center for Physical Acoustics?
Goodman: When did I leave? 1990.
Bass:What was your title when you left?
Bass:And why did you leave?
Goodman: I wanted to expand my career. And I also wanted to get back to academics, research, where I could be the participant instead of the director.
Bass:Where did you go then?
Goodman: For one year, I went to the University of Southern Mississippi. Then I went to Penn State University.
Bass:The year you went to the University of Southern Mississippi, what was your position then?
Goodman: I was a Professor.
Bass:And was it primarily a teaching position or a research position?
Goodman: A research position. It was Professor of Research, I think was the correct title for it.
Bass:It was research in what field?
Goodman: I continued working underwater acoustics.
Bass:What specific projects did you have going on at that time?
Goodman: Boy, thatís a hard one, Hank. Let me think about that. I was working primarily with the Naval Research Laboratory on some scattering from the sea floor and some coherence work.
Bass:I remember that. You went from there, then, to Penn State, sort of, right?
Goodman: Yes, I went to Penn State for several years. Ten years.
Bass:And what was your title at Penn State?
Goodman: Research Scientist.
Bass:And you worked at the applied research laboratory?
Goodman: Applied Research Laboratory.
Bass:And while you were there, were there any particular projects that you recall?
Goodman: Yes, I did a fair amount on acoustic scattering, and one of my colleagues there, who now is at the National Center for Physical Acoustics, Kenny Gilbert, and I had several collaborative efforts in propagation of sound through bubbles, scattering through bubbles and just the general field of underwater acoustics.
Bass:That takes us up, then, to roughly 2001.
Goodman: Thatís right.
Bass:Whereíd you go in 2001?
Goodman: Then I came back down to the University of Southern Mississippi.
Bass:What was your title?
Goodman: Research Professor.
Bass:Whatís your primary activity there?
Goodman: Iíve had several, again, collaborating with the Naval Research Laboratory underwater acoustics people at that point, where they had both propagation through coherence work and backscattering from the sea floor. I should also mention, while I was at Penn State, I took an interagency personnel assignment to NRL that lasted for three years.
Bass:When you were at Southern, what people have you worked with, specifically, most often?
Goodman: Jerry Caruthers, and still with the people at the Naval Research Laboratory.
Bass:Youíve had a lot of positions.
Goodman: Too many.
Bass:I donít know, it sounds interesting. Letís talk about publications. Now, have you written any books?
Goodman: No books.
Bass:How many publications do you think youíve had?
Goodman: Oh, I would say somewhere around 50.
Bass:And the primary topics?
Goodman: Over the years, solid-state physics, underwater acoustics, scattering, propagation theory, propagation of sound through bubbles, bubble fields.
Bass:And if one was to go look up your work, what publications or journals would you look in primarily?
Goodman: Journal of Acoustical Society, a few in the IEEE Journal of Ocean Engineering.
Bass:When we send this archive and this record of the archive, finally able to reside in the Neils Bohr Library with AIP, they would like to have as an attachment to that a resume. That gives us quite a while to put one together, but they would like to have a latest version of the resume that you can get.
Goodman: I have one; I forgot to bring it.
Bass:Okay, good. Letís talk about your family. Your present marital status?
Goodman: Yes, Iím married to Charlotte Goodman.
Bass:And what was her maiden name?
Goodman: Her maiden name was Stricker.
Bass:Whereís she from?
Goodman: Sheís from Pennsylvania.
Bass:Did you meet her in Pennsylvania?
Goodman: I met her in Pennsylvania while working at the Applied Research Laboratory.
Bass:What was her occupation?
Goodman: When I met her she was administrative assistant to a small company in the state college.
Bass:And when did you get married?
Goodman: Got married in Alexandria, Virginia in 1981.
Bass:Wow, so youíve been married for a while. Do you have children?
Goodman: Yes I do, but theyíre by a previous marriage.
Bass:Well, tell us something about your children.
Goodman: I have three children: two boys, both are carpenters; and a daughter whoís an artist. She lives in Alameda, California. One of my sons lives in New Orleans, the other lives in Denver, Colorado.
Bass:How about grandchildren?
Goodman: I have two. I have a grandchild who lives in Friday Harbor in the state of Washington, and one who lives in New Orleans.
Bass:What do they do?
Goodman: They go to school. One is in the eighth grade; one is in the ninth grade.
Bass:Oh, so theyíre still pretty young.
Goodman: Yes, they are.
Bass:Do you get a chance to see them very often?
Goodman: I get a chance to see the one in New Orleans fairly often, but the one in Washington I only get to see occasionally. Thatís a long ways away.
Bass:Yes, it is. Is there anything else special youíd like to mention about your family?
Goodman: I feel extremely fortunate to have a good family. Thereís a great amount of love in the family, which I think is the most important driving force there is.
Bass:How about brothers or sisters?
Goodman: I have one sister who lives in Florida. Sheís four years younger than I. Sheís a housewife. Sheís married to a former Detroit policeman.
Bass:You said something about your father and his occupation. How about your mother?
Goodman: My mother was a housewife, except during the war. She worked in a tank factory.
Bass:I have to ask you this question, what is your favorite form of entertainment?
Goodman: Probably listening to music. I like to read very much.
Bass:Any particular music?
Goodman: Classical music. I think Iím fairly broad when I say that, but probably classical music more than anything else.
Bass:And reading, what particular type of books you like to read?
Goodman: I read almost everything that isnít trash.
Bass:Well, I read the trash. [Laughter] All books have to be read, right.
Goodman: My kids will love me a long way there. My oldest son was an English major and has a voracious reading style, and we have a lot of chance to talk about books that heís read and that Iíve read. And my son in Denver also is reader, but mostly of literary classics.
Bass:You mentioned the music that you like and some of your preferences there. Do you attend movies? Do you enjoy movies?
Goodman: I donít go to movies very much. Back in the 1950s while I was a student, I think most of us attended movies. There were great classics in those days, especially Italian movies and some of the Swedish movies. So I went quite often, but today I rarely go to the movies.
Bass:How about TV programs, any particular TV programs you like?
Bass:How about sports, any particular sports you like?
Goodman: Iím still fascinated by basketball. I played basketball for a long time, and I still am fascinated by it. And if I had more opportunity I would probably watch more tennis, but I donít get that much opportunity anymore.
Bass:Well, any particular basketball team that you follow?
Goodman: Probably the Chicago Bulls, yes.
Bass:So a professional team.
Bass:How about a college team, any college teams you follow?
Goodman: They change too often. [Laughter]
Bass:They do, donít they. Any particular art or artist that you particularly enjoy?
Goodman: Yes. When I was in college my study, Carrel as it was called, happened to be in the Italian Renaissance section of the University of Michigan library. Between courses in quantum mechanics and mechanics, etc., I used to peruse the collection there. Iím now, and I have been since then, a fan of Italian Renaissance paintings. Of all paintings thatís probably the oneÖ The other one of course is my daughterís work.
Bass:Well, you have to say that. She might read this.
Goodman: Yes, right. [Laughter]
Bass:Is there a particular quote that you like to use or is particularly important to you?
Goodman: Yes, there is. At this stage I canít quite remember how itís worded. Itís a quote of Albert Einsteinís about Galileo saying no amount of logic will teach science. I wish I had the quote with me, but it essentially says that science begins with experience and ends with experience, and he taught that to all scientists. Iíve used that many times in one form or another with my colleagues.
Bass:Do you have any particular hobbies now that you like to pursue?
Goodman: The work I do is probably my hobby right now. I enjoy very much doing mathematical acoustics, and I do mostly that. Hobbies, Iíd say over the years probably things like skiing and fishing have been very important, but at this point in my life theyíre not quite as important as they were.
Bass:What about your future plans? What do you plan to do from here?
Goodman: Well, I get asked quite often what am I going to do when I retire, and I say, ďIím going to be cremated.Ē [Laughter]
Bass:Well, how about that upward-looking sonar though, isnít that something that you really got into?
Goodman: Yes, thatís an invention of mine. I guess you can call it an invention. Itís a very simple idea that came out of the desire to — distributed systems in the sea are usually voracious energy consumers. I took an approach to look for a system that would only send signals rarely so you would conserve energy, and itís essentially a cumulative probability system. I enjoy the work that Iím doing with the three young engineers.
Bass:I guess thatís about it. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Goodman: Yes, I would. I would like to add this. If I were to look back over the years and say what kind of planning did I do that led to where I am, I would say there was no planning. It was purely an accident of meeting the right people at the right time and having opportunities come up as they did. I never wouldíve dreamt when I left even undergraduate school that I wouldíve had this much fun as Iíve had in various positions. I really mean that.
Bass:Thatís great. This ends the interview at this point, and I managed to get it all on one tape, although I think we only had about an inch of tape left. So, thank you very much, Ralph.
Goodman: Okay, thank you.
There was one other thing maybe. Oh yes, a chance meeting with John Johnson after I had my Ph.D. I was walking down the hall at the University of Michigan, and just by accident ran into John Johnson, who asked me if I had ever heard of a center in Los Bassi, Italy. The answer was no I hadnít heard of it, but he encouraged me to look into that opportunity of going there for a short period of time. I went for two years, and the people I met there, the people I met subsequently had more influence on where I went for the rest of my life than any other thing, and that was an entirely chance meeting.
Bass:Well, Johnson had a lot of chance meetings like that.
Goodman: [Laughter] Yes, he did.
Bass:Thank you, Ralph.
Goodman: Okay, yeah.
Bass:Thatís the end.