Oral History Transcript — Dr. H. A. Barton
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H. A. Barton; March 16, 1970
ABSTRACT: Family background; undergraduate and graduate studies at Princeton University: electrical engineering 1921, graduate research on ionization of argon and HC1, spectroscopic interests (MA 1924, PhD 1925); developmental research as engineer for American Telephone and Telegraph Laboratories (1921–1923); National Research Council Fellow at Harvard University (1925–1927); Bartol Research Foundation Fellow (1927–1929), research on impact of protons on atoms and molecules. Assistant professor at Cornell University (1929–1931), high voltage Xóray research, visit to Cavendish Laboratory; founding Director of the American Institute of Physics (AIP 1931–1957): discussions on the origins, nature and funding of AIP; early associations with the Chemical Foundation and American Chemical Society; history of selected AIP journals; public relations to promote physics; impact of Depression on physics; Depression and post J,JW II studies on physics manópower and industries Also mentioned at length are E..P. Adams, Karl Compton, Charles D. Ellis, Paul D. Foote, Alfred Loomis, Donald Mueller, Robert Mullikan, George B. Pegram, Floyd Richtmyer, Henry N. Russell, Harry D. Smyth, John T. Tate.
Session I | Session II
Weiner:This is the continuation of the interview with Dr. Barton, this time in his home at Princeton. Todayís date is March 16th, and weíre continuing where we left off. We did reach the point of bringing you to New York and to your position with the Institute, and we covered some of the research work that you had wanted to continue at Princeton. We got off on that for a bit, but now weíre at the point of talking about the things you encountered in the Institute, how things worked out, what the different programs were, what the policies were. You did tell me last time too about your meeting with Pegram and your conversation with Richtmyer regarding the position and your expectations about it. I asked at the time whether their idea of the Institute was somewhat different than yours. You have explained that as far as the information you had, you understood it pretty well through Richtmyer and Compton and that there was no particular problem. There was a letter in the material that you gave me which indicated that there was some problem—that at least some of the founders kept referring to the business aspects of it. Apparently you felt that you needed to clarify this, and in a letter to Karl Compton you explored this somewhat. Iím curious to know how that resolved itself in your mind.
Barton:I had really pretty much forgotten about that, but I did remember it or it was recalled when I was going over the thing that I wrote.
Weiner:Itís in there too.
Barton:Itís in there, some mention of that. There was more actual talk about the financial problems of the publications, and more desire to have the Institute do something about that in a managerial way than I had recalled when I talked to you the last time. It was made fairly clear to me that my part of the job was more the promotion of physics and the general securing of recognition of physics on the part of industry and the public than handling the publication part. But the publication part was definitely in mind—so much so that I asked whether someone who knew more about journals and journal publication couldnít become available too in starting this whole operation. That was done. John T. Tate was able to get a leave of absence for a term or maybe it was only a couple of months from the University of Minnesota, and he spent that time studying the problem of the journals and working up several alternative proposals for the solution within the Institute of Physics or through the cooperation of the Institute of Physics with the societies. And then when later on, about a year or a year and a half after the start of our office, it came time to do something tangible about the publications, it was he as much as anyone who decided that the first step should be the transfer of the operation of the Physical Review from his office (he was editor) to the Institute in New York. Of course, he remained editor, but the staff that he had developed to handle what he called the editorial mechanics was transferred. The people who worked for him were transferred to New York, That was when we branched out from the very small office that we had in the Chemical Foundation to having an office of our own, ft was obviously required then because of the additional staff that was brought in.
Weiner:Any economics that could have resulted from the consolidated operation at first would have gone into the extra expense of maintaining an office.
Barton:Yes. This was one way, of course, the Chemical Foundation helped, They paid the rent for this office, We thought they were going to go on paying it for some years, but they ran out of money a couple of years later, and that we then had to absorb ourselves, We manag1 to achieve economies in other ways in the journal publishing, the chief way being that we got all the journals into the same size and format so that we had a large printing order which we bought from one outfit, the Lancaster Press, and they could set their composing machines and their presses for this one size and format for quite a large volume, ft meant that we had more presses working exclusively for us. So that we did achieve economies that way. Also we adopted a more efficient format, We got twice as many words on a page as there had been, n fact, sometimes the factor was even greater than two.
Weiner:Was this two different type sizes?
Barton:And a larger page, a double column page, Most of the journals had been single column pages at that time, The Optical Society Journal was very expensively gotten out, Quite naturally they wanted a nice-looking journal, being optics, and they used a very fine paper. And that was fine so long as they could afford it, but they were in pretty bad financial trouble, and they were willing to go for the standard format that we developed This format was the result of a close study which Tate made, He got advice and discussed the thing with printers and consultants and reading psychologists or whatever was available— donut remember now— as to the size of type that was good and the length of line that was good and so on. But thatís the way that we achieved economies, that and the volume of our print order more than in any other ways.
Weiner:And his presence in New York helped initiate you into the publication end of things.
Barton:Yes, And should say also the principal girl that he had, Madeline Mitchell, who was the editorial secretary of the Institute for a long time, was good. She was extremely able and efficient, and she ran the publication end of the business, Without her we wouldnít have been able to do much.
Weiner:Had she come from Minnesota?
Barton:Yes, she came, She had been working for Tate.
Weiner:What was her background?
Barton:Frankly, donít know.
Weiner:Was she a scientist? English major?
Barton:No. No, donít think she went to college or anything. She was a secretary. She developed from being a secretary probably in the department of physics in Minnesota. And I donít really know about that. She was certainly uncommonly ambitious and uncommonly bright and efficient. She turned out to be a good manager of personnel, too—rather strict, some of them thought at times, but she got a lot of work out.
Weiner:And she stayed through the Ď305, didnít she?
Barton:She was there during the war period, the 2nd World War; so it was through the Ď30s and into the Ď40s—well, into the Ď40s, Then she married Tate finally after Tateís first wife had died.
Weiner:This question about publications raises a point. In the changes that were made for economy and efficiency, what things were considered sacred? In terms of the things that couldnít be touched about the whole publication system in physics? For example, Iím referring here to the way a manuscript is submitted, the way itís dated, the way itís refereed, the way editing changes are made on it, It seems to me that this may have been the cause of conflict along the way.
Barton:think we avoided conflict on that by agreeing at the outset that the societies were the editorial masters of their journals and that they would appoint and pay the editors and set the standards of the editorial content) Ďand for the refereeing and all handling of manuscripts. However, after the manuscript was approved by the editor and sent to us for publication, we had charge of it from then on—the handling of proofs, the proof-reading—and that meant, of course, working with authors was the job of Madeline Mitchell and her staff. So that was really under our direction rather than the societies. In order to have society advice and consent more or less to the procedures we worked out for that handling of the manuscripts after they were approved by the editors, we formed a publications board, which, as you probably know, is composed of the editors of all the journals. And they were the ones who really decided the standards, and Madeline carried them out. One of the jobs of that publications board, with Madelineís assistance, was to get out the Authorís Manual. Thatís been revised a number of times, but it was a pretty good thing. It was rather an original thingóónot exactly new to the publications industry, but think it was the first one that had been gotten out by a scientific society which was comprehensive. People from all over asked us for copies of it outside of physics.
Weiner:I have a number of questions on publications we might as well pursue. But then after that Iíd like to backtrack about your getting settled at AIP. But on the question of publications, when the Institute was formed, there was no mention of an Institute publication per se but rather handling existing publications of the various societies. Or is that a wrong interpretation?
Barton:Well, that isnít quite so. There were beginnings of thoughts about couldnít we merge everything into the Physical Review or couldnít we have one single journal? And when Tate came and spent those two or three months, he was given another room in the Chemical Foundation—It was that early in the game, So one of the proposals that he came out with was one single big journal for everything that would go to everybody, although he did also envision the possibility of sections of it being sold to those interested in those sections, But the philosophy of it is simple. itís like a newspaper. ftís made for everybody, and nobody is expected to read more than a small part of it. itís not an economically absurd idea. But it wasnít saleable, The societies had by that time gained enough nationalistic pride in their journals so that they wouldnít buy that idea, They wanted their journal with their name on and carrying on their traditions. They were going institutions, those journals So that proposal was given up.
Weiner:would think that without a journal, the society, at least as constituted then, had not very much reason to exist, because most of them had their business primarily concerned with journals and the holding of meetings.
Barton:Thatís what it was.
Weiner:And even though the AAPT was just getting started, one of their first proposals was to have a journals So can see that as long as the societies existed, the possibility of merger would be very difficult.
Barton:Yes, it was too late to think of that, We did have in mind, however, the Chemical Society, which had kept a strong unity and allowed the formation of divisions within the Society for the different fields of chemistry. But it was too late for us to do that even though it probably would have been just as good or better for physics if it had been possible to do that.
Weiner:I notice that in your history you made that statement, and I wondered why.
Barton:Well, just admired so much the way the Chemical Society was able to muster the resources and support that was needed to advance chemistry and to meet the expenses of publishing a lot of big journals, including Chemical Abstracts It worked, in other words, I thought it was very impressive how well it worked, And by having this strong central organization with a good office, they had developed public relations to a point where chemistry was very much sold to the American people in the country and the industries They had done, and it was largely their example which made me feel that it was possible to do, just the things we set out to do.
Weiner:But guess the form taken by the Institute of Physics was different after having considered the ACS model and rejecting it, Why was the model rejected, and is there anything about the way physics is done, taught, organized that makes it?
Barton:I donít think thereís any basic fundamental difference in this respect, I think it was merely that the societies had been established and had been going a while and had developed local pride, I think it would have worked the other way perfectly well, but it was too late to sell it, It would have been a little like trying to merge the United States into just Columbia or something like that, forgetting Texas and forgetting Maine and forgetting Ohio.
Weiner:guess it was the crisis which already existed which led to the formation of the Institute through the American Physical Society Committee, There was one committee on the financial status of the Physical Review and there was another committee on applied physics. And it seems that these were the two groups whose deliberations resulted in the formation of the institute of Physics.
Weiner:Well, backtracking just a bit, because it does affect the publications question, too, Iím not clear why such a crisis was perceived. I know that people were going off into other fields, but isnít this considered a normal thing? Why did physics feel it was so vulnerable, that it was being so tremendously weakened because it was successful?
Barton:think that the financial pinch was pretty tight. That was what hurt, It was becoming more and more apparent that the Physical Society was not going to be able to afford to keep up the Physical Review . And they thought that one of the reasons for that was that when physics got into a profitable field it called itself something else, It no longer was interested in supporting the mother society and the mother journal. It was really about as simple as that, The financial pinch was a real one. And, of course, the Chemical Foundation also argued strongly that if we had one big single organization to speak for physics and to make representations for physics and advance its just claims for support and interest from profitable sources like the companies, corporations and industries, it would be more effective than if the societies did it. Of course, the societies alsoóóat least the Physical Society especially—had become very academic. It had no business sense at all, That was not quite so true of the Optical Society and the Acoustical Society. The Acoustical Society was not financially embarrassed, The Optical Society was, but that was partly because there were so few optical people, optical physicists. There werenít many, not enough really to support a society and a journal. They grew rapidly later, but it took about ten years before they did it, even after the Institute was started.
Weiner:The committee on the financial status of Physical Review included Karl Compton and Alfred Loomis, No, probably this Loomis would be F. Wheeler Loomis.
Barton:No, I think it probably was Alfred Loomis. Alfred Loomis proposed the page-charge plan at that time and put up money to underwrite it.
Weiner:wouldnít think of him in this stage of it. donít know which Loomis frankly but was assuming the other. Also Pegram and Tate, think, Did this committee continue to exist once the Institute was formed?
Barton:It was Alfred Loomis, I donít think it did, I canít recall that committee continuing. It may have, But I think it considered a good deal of its work was done when the Institute was established. Such activity as that would have then come under the province of the Institute more than the society. These people who had formed the committee kept on being helpful—Alfred Loomis and Compton and Foote especially.
Weiner:Foote was on it too?
Barton:Well, Foote was involved in those.
Weiner:Yes, well, he became president
Barton:He was president of the society about that time.
Weiner:In Ď33, I think. I guess it was one of the purposes of the committee to find a solution. One of the solutions was to approach the Chemical Foundation for support. And youíve explained in your history, the Chemical Foundation would rather deal with a single entity. There are a number of questions that are involved here, First, on the Chemical Foundation, was the fact that it ran out of money due to the Depression or was it just a question of management of its funds, or was it by design?
Barton:I donít fully know the answer to that, donít think it was by design, although probably it could have been managed differently, to have had its funds continue as a kind of a trust and last much longer. But one thing that was true was that the patents that it hadó-the alien property was mostly patents and they got the royalties—expired. That is 17 years after a patent has been established, something like that, it becomes open to all without payment; so that the income of the Foundation ran out. Then they got interested in things that were all expense and no profit, too, The Farm Chemurgic Council was a great pet idea of Garvanís and Buffumís and I think they lost an awful lot of money on it. Also, Garvan was mad at the banking system of the country and got out pamphlets and brochures attacking it. A good many people thought that the Chemical Foundation was making unauthorized and illegitimate uses of its money.
Weiner:You mean by not being educational and scientific but being political or economic?
Barton:Thatís right, political and economic and espousing causes which were really not supported by anybody except Garvan. I think that the only justification that can be advanced is suspect that Garvan put in a good deal of his money or his wifeís money (it was said to be his wifeís money) into these things as well as Foundation money.
Weiner:But when did they go out of existence?
Barton:Well, they kept on some kind of existence, but it was about four years or so after the institute got going. It was about the same year as Buffum disappeared as treasurer of the Institute that Garvan died, and Buffum kept it going for a little while, but it was in so deep with this Farm Chemurgic business that its end was bound to come rather soon. It kept a kind of a skeleton operation. It remained on the books of the corporations but only as a place where they had documents and a library. There was an ex-auditor, who was a chap like Teddy Vorburger, a very bright fellow but of no great background, who kept on as director of it for a while or as secretary or manager or something. But he didnít have anything much to do or any money to do it with, so it really dropped out of sight.
Weiner:Essentially by 1934 or Ď5 the instituteís connection with it had completely broken. There was certainly no other financial tie.
Barton:Thatís right. They helped us get the Journal of Chemical Physics going, and after about two or three years of that, they made up a big deficit of that—it must have been about the second or third year. And that was the last money, think, that we got from them—at least a large bloc that amounted to as much as $10,000. After that they got out.
Weiner:On the Journal of Chemical Physics, from what Iíve read in the files that we have, it appears that it was on their initiative that the Institute began steps which ultimately led to taking over of the journal or at least that portion of an existing journal which could be treated as chemical physics. And gather that there was some misunderstanding between the Institute and the American Chemical Society. It would be interesting to have the story of that, must say that we have the files of the Journal of Chemical Physics dating back practically to this period, but havenít studied that, Thee comments are based on some of the things that you have said and some of the reading that I've done in the Institute archives.
Yes, Well, that isnít exactly the way it was. Let me say what I think it was. There was the Journal of Physical Chemical that was published by Wilder Bancroft of Cornell, a chemistry professor. And it was given some kind of accreditation or sponsorship by the Chemical Society but think no support. And the Chemical Foundation, presumably at Ban- croftís request, did support the Journal of Physical Chemistry. But they came to a parting of the ways for some reason that I donít know, and Garvan and Buffum decided not to support it anymore. They felt that this meant the end of that journal, and they didnít want to deal anymore with Bancroft, so they wanted us to either take it over ( think that was the original idea) or start up a similar journal to take its place when it died, Now, actually we didnít take it over.
It continued in existence. The Chemical Society decided that they would come to its support, and they made it a journal of the Chemical Society. donít remember whether Bancroft continued as editor or, if he did, how long he continued. He may have continued right on. But since the money was diverted, so to speak— switched over to us—and there was a feeling that a new branch of physics, which we called chemical physics, was developing rather rapidly at that time, we decided to start this journal, at the urging of the Chemical Foundation and with their financial backing, and we went through a long process of picking editors and defining its cope, etc. And then, somewhat to my surprise, the Journal of Physical Chemistry did not fold, and the Chemical Society came to its aid. It was a very good thing that they did, because subsequently there was plenty of room for both journals; and if we had had to take the type of papers that were published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry, they wouldnít at all have been the kind that we finally did take for the Journal of Chemical Physics. It was a real opportunity for it, which was quite different from the opening that physical chemistry had filled. There is a real difference between chemical physics and physical chemistry.
Weiner:Yes. Was there any corresponding movement within the American Physical Society? That is, the people who would have been writing articles for a Journal of Chemical Physics, did they consciously see themselves as a subgroup within the APS?
Barton:They may have, There certainly were people who urged us to go into this other than the Chemical Foundation, And I think that the editor of the Physical Review rather welcomed that there be another place where papers could be sent rather than having him have to publish them and pay for them in the Physical Review—papers that were so chemical that most physicists didnít understand them, but you had to admit that they were largely physics. So the Journal of Chemical Physics certainly was a help to the Physical Review. It did relieve the load on it quite a bit. That was another sort of devious way in which financial help came to the Physical Review, which directly and on its own didnít get any money to speak of from the Chemical Foundation, t may have gotten a little but not very much.
Weiner:Was this a process that repeated itself later with the Journal of Applied Physics, for example?
Barton:That was a little bit more our own doing. Donít think the Chemical Foundation.
Weiner:I donít mean in that sense, but I mean as a relief for the Physical Review?
Barton:Yes, very much so Of course, there was the journal Physics before the Journal of Applied Physics, which Tate had started, yes; and largely for the reason that youíve stated-óthat it would be a relief to the Physical Review, It would supply a place to publish articles on applied physics that he didnít think belonged in the Physical Review, and yet good members of the Physical Society wanted to publish them, and it was good work and it should be published But then the journal Physics at that time was being run by the Physical Society, and it was not making money. It was somewhat of a burden, I think. So when we really began to promote in a big way the whole business of applied physics, industrial physics, physics in industry and all those things, it was pretty clear that we needed a journal to be the spearhead of this whole thing; and the Physical Society was very happy to hand over _______ to us to be renamed Journal of Applied Physics and gotten out with a shiny cover and made to look like something that you would want to buy. This is what happened.
Weiner:How long did it exist with the name Physics and what was the motivation in starting it in the first placeóóthe American Physical Societyís motivation?
Barton:Just what I said, that the Physical Society didnít want to publish such papers in the Physical Review; they wanted it to be more pure and fundamental. And second, the papers did come out of the membership and ought to have a place to be published And so it was simply to enable the Physical Review to stay the way it was and also took care of a need of the members.
Weiner:When did it start?
Barton:I canít tell you exactly it must have been about 1925 or thereabouts, I should think, It was going for several years before the Institute was established.
Weiner:And yet Tate had come up with the merger idea, which would have
Barton:Of course, heíd started Physics before the merger idea came up. He also started Reviews of Modern Physics before the merger idea came up.
Weiner:He started that in Ď28 and Ď29 And yet he was willing to consider merging them all into a single.
Barton:Yes, he went at that job just like a scientist would, just to think of all the possibilities and analyze them and try to reason out what would be the most effective. He didnít discard anything. He didnít go in there with any subjective ideas as to how it ought to be done. And think he did a wonderful job. He worked it out mathematically and economically. He just pored over it week after week.
Weiner:1 think we have some of those records from the Physical Review off ices in Brookhaven. We discovered some of Tateís calculations. Iím sure there are more at the Institute. But these were massive sheets just filled with numbers, a regular research project.
Barton:He developed an equation for the cost of producing a journal which I think is still valid. It must be, And itís not very complicated either.
Weiner:Now, before the journal Physics became an Institute journal with a change in name, there was the Review of Scientific Instruments as an Institute journal. How did it come about that the Institute took over RSI?
There are really two reasons for that, I guess. One was that instruments were not only optical instruments, so that they really had a physics-wide significance; and it would be more approp1ate to have it in the organization in which all the branches were represented. Also it might help it financially in the sense that it could be circularized more generally and promoted—subscriptions promoted to more different branches of physics. Also, it was felt that we, with a staff, could sell advertising in it better. It was carrying advertising and the advertising that they had consisted really almost entirely of advertising that was got for the journal on a complimentary basis, because Morris E. Leeds stood so high in the Instrument Makersí Association that he was able to get his friends to put advertising in this journal just to support it. And they were getting a little bit tired of that because business was so bad at the time that the Institute started that they didnít even want to spend the money on such things as this.
In fact, the business of the Review of Scientific Instruments was so bad that the Optical Society council at the time that it was transferred to the Institute was just delighted to get rid of it, although later on some later members of the Councils and one or two officers, in fact, of the Optical Society thought it had been a steal; and they took us to task for it all—in fact, tried to find that the contract wasnít valid, but it was. And they were glad to get rid of it at the time, But then before we had began to make use of it with the concept of its being a generally circularized journal to all physicists. We began putting in the Physics Forum which you know about. We put in schedules of meetings and various other things of general interest.
Weiner:Fellowships available, grantsóin-aid and so forth.
Barton:We already had in mind the idea that there should be a medium going to everybody. The first thought was that maybe we could develop this as that medium or else try our legs in this as part of it and see how it worked.
Weiner:You didnít solve the financial problem at first, though apparently.
Barton:No. No, it was hard to get going, awfully hard. As you say, we kept putting out questionnaires and making studies and having committees, trying to figure out how we could make this thing pay for itself. It was partly the revival of business and partly the onset of the Second World War—the preparations for it—that put it over. Then, of course, by that time we began to have a professional advertising sales staff, too. We had a man come in, and he was advertising manager for several years. Then he went out and worked for another scientific society—I canít remember which one now. He did a good job for them, too, and that was when Teddy Vorburger said heíd like to try it. Heíd been an accountant, you know; heíd been our auditor. Heíd worked for our auditorís firm. I was surprised at that. I wouldnít have thought that he was the type of man to be an advertising space salesman, or that his background and training were right for it-óthe CPA training for a salesman isnít just what you think of, you know. And it was Wallace Waterfall who figured out that Teddy could do a good job on this, and I think he did. I think he did a wonderful job.
Weiner:Well, RSI was taken over about 1932, was it?
Barton:Thatís about right, yes.
Weiner:And that was just about at the time that the Journal of Chemical Physics was created as an Institute publication.
Barton:Yes. Everything seemed to happen in those first few years.
Weiner:And yet these were very bad times in terms of the Depression and yet very innovative. While weíre on the subject of publications, what about outside support? After all, the reasons for forming the Institute in the minds of many of the people who helped to found it was that a unified physics profession could obtain support not only from the Chemical Foundation but from other foundations. In addition to achieving economies of publication, there was an assumption that some subsidies would be forthcoming. This involved two things so far as Iím concerned. One is: on what basis did people feel that either government or private foundations would think it appropriate to pay for the publications of physicists? And secondly, other than the Chemical Foundation, were there any expectations through prior conversations with people from foundations?
Barton:Yes, Iíd say there was some. With the Rockefeller Foundation there was some conversation and some interest, too. In fact, some support came from the Rockefeller Foundation. The business of the page charge started up before the Institute was established. You know, it was a voluntary thing, and there was a fund, which was actually put in by Alfred Loomis, to pay the page charge if the authorís institution did not honor it, Well, after that had gone on a while, we thought that this was one way in which we could get some additional and continuing support for the other research journals; and we got the societies to agree that they would like it. So we had continued this page charge—in fact, boosted the amount of dollars per page but only about as much as we increased the number of words per page, so it was fair, But we could no longer expect Alfred Loomis, out of his own pocket, to subsidize the fails more or less on this, and we went to the Rockefeller Foundation and asked if they would; and they did for an initial period of three years, think—something like $10,000 the first year and 9 the next and 8. Maybe these are not the right figures—probably not.
Weiner:You might have it in your article on that?
Barton:And then it was continued by them for a second three-year period, still on this declining scale, And that really put it across, ft was not only the amount of money they gave, which was larger and covering the whole field of our research journals, but also I think the fact of the prestige of the Rockefeller Foundation thinking it was worthwhile putting money in this which helped us to sell it to the physics departments and to the university and college administrations that had to pay the bill back of the departments. It helped We never used this as blackmail or anything, but it was kind of blackmail in the sense that the university presidents would say, ďWell, now, if we donít pay page charges to the Physical Review, the Rockefeller Foundation will be mad at us.Ē I donít know that this was ever expressed by anybody, but think probably people thought of it.
Weiner:Do you recall any department that gave you an especially difficult time on it?
Barton:No, donít remember any that stood out in that respect.
Barton:If so, donít remember that it was.
Weiner:think of it always as a special case perhaps.
I donít remember any department giving us an especially hard time on it, And they came into line just gradually, more and more of them, We had a little trouble clear up to the time of about the war with government laboratories until finally they began to come into line, largely because of Allen V. Astin. When he became director of the Bureau, he was on some kind of an inter-bureau committee of the government; and he got across to all of the agencies of the government that published scientific work that this was a good idea and they passed a rule that they all adopted. So that made a big difference, too, But by that time it was a going thing, and we no longer had any subsidy. The fails were not made up by anybody, but we got so many of them coming in that it didnít matter, That I think was the main new source of revenue that was brought about by the Institute. The other one that might be mentioned was simply a matter of good business, that here we had with almost every piece of literature that went out, including the journals themselves, all of the journals we had were listed; it was just good salesmanship.
It was like a booksellerís catalogue, you know, going out—a publishersí catalogue. So that we certainly did develop a lot more circulation for every journal all over the world, in libraries and so on, just by plain ordinary business methods, not by subsidy. No , we didnít get any large funds to replace the kind of angelic support that we expected from the Chemical Foundation. We did get some money from industry, but it was piecemeal—it was sporadic; it was not continuing. We got, for instance, from the Westinghouse Company a couple of thousand dollars one year and then a thousand the next, and other companies—they were not the only ones. We got a couple of grants from the National Academy of Sciences out of a fund that they had.
Weiner:For specific purposes in each of these cases?
Weiner:For example, the Academy?
Barton:Yes, canít recall now just what it was. think it had something to do with the Review of Scientific Instruments that was in trouble and needed to get over a hump of some kind, and we got a grant. Probably Richtmyer or somebody fixed that.
Weiner:In a sense the NRC helped, because they took up the idea of page charges after the Institute had initiated it—didnít they?
Barton:Iíd say rather that they gave us house room for a conference under their auspices. It was really we who did that.
Weiner:And the purpose of the conference was to talk with other scientific disciplines on the subject?
Barton:They were all invited by the Research Council, But actually we had planned that meeting. Detlev Bronk was very cooperative about it, He paved the way for us in every way that he could.
Weiner:This was perhaps in a later period.
Barton:This was somewhat later, yes.
Weiner:But still in the Ď30s.
Barton:Yes—now, I am not sure—maybe Ď40s,
Weiner:Just so long as weíre on this, the purpose of that was to see if you could get other scientific societies to adopt a similar plan. Why would that be in the best interests of the Institute?
Barton:Well, one of the arguments against honoring these charges, both from companies and from university administrations, was: ĎWhy do we have to do this for physics? We donít have to do it for chemistry or geology, etc,í There was a plan somewhat similar to it already in operation for mathematics. But we certainly did think that if the other societies adopted the plan, it would be easier for us; and I think thatís true.
Weiner:How did they cope with their financial problems?
Weiner:Chemistry, for example.
Barton:Well, chemistry was so well supported by industry that they didnít need it.
Weiner:So they were subsidized in another way.
Barton:Yes, Just how that worked, donít know—whether they just got big corporate memberships or whether they just passed the hat whenever they needed money, donít know, But the chemical industry was very solidly back of the Chemical Society financially. Well, think they had to raise the money for the Chemical Abstracts, which was certainly not a thing that could be sold for what it cost. Every year think they went out and passed the hat.
Weiner:Getting back to the Rockefeller Foundation support, was it through Warren Weaver that the contacts were made and that the totals were advanced?
Barton:I think maybe the first contacts with the Rockefeller Foundation were with a man named Lauder Jones, who had been a chemistry professor here in Princeton and was with the Rockefeller Foundation, And it was his job, guess, when he either retired or died, that Weaver came into, So by the time that we had wanted to approach them on the subsidizing of the fails in the page charge plan for all the journals, not just one, it was Weaver—and dealt with Weaver. But earlier than that I did talk to Jones, not about the page charge but about the possibility of our establishing a Physics Abstracts over in this country, Have you run across that, that idea?
Weiner:Yes, From the start it was one of the considerations, along with journal mergers, of what the Institute should be doing in the publications field.
Barton:Yes, It was certainly one of the things that was talked of, People were dissatisfied with Science Abstracts ó Physics ó-on the grounds of completeness and promptness and indexing, Those were the three complaints, ft was not being supported by a physics organization either, It was supported by the electrical engineers in England, So we thought maybe we could do better, donít think that I alone killed this idea, but certainly was not receptive to it right from the start. It was about that possibility that did talk to Lauder Jones in the Rockefeller Foundation; and someone else, Compton or somebody, had paved the way for this talk, think we could have gotten money from the Rockefeller Foundation to help establish the Physics Abstracts if we had decided to go ahead with it.
Weiner:On what grounds did you oppose it?
Barton:I was so overwhelmed with the massive financial burden that Chemical Abstracts was, and had become so impressed with our own problems in getting out journals, that I just didnít see any feasible financial way of publishing Physics Abstracts in this country. And think carried my point. I think people finally came to the view that it was awfully lucky for us that the British were willing to do it and let them, and we would support them and help them.
Weiner:These complaints of its coverage, indexing and promptness and completeness—were these shared by physicists in other countries? Had you had indications of it not being satisfactory to them as well?
Barton:No, I donít think we had much thought about that, because there was a French abstracts journal and a German abstracts journal, which would be the two other countries which might have concerns about it. No, think this was purely an American reaction, donít think we could have done any better. Or rather put it the other way—more constructively. Our best hope of improving the situation was to help the British to do it, After all, we speak the same language—pretty much so. At least we read the same language.
Weiner:Well, did you carry out that program of helping them—in what way? I know through some notes that have that you did make at least one trip, perhaps more, to England for that purpose. And in what way did the Institute play a role in improving the British-based in that period?
Barton:We had a committee on Physics Abstracts—Science Abstracts - Physics—and Hutchisson was at one time the chairman of it, I forget whether he was the first chairman, but he was the one who did most of the work. He was the one who was most active and really made the committee function and be of some assistance. This was advisory. We helped the English editorial group, editorial board, to see our point of view and see if they could do better; and they were able to convince their sponsoring organization that more money could be used in this field. And then the American Physical Society (and now Iím puzzled about the dates, whether this began before the Institute or after the Institute was started) did support Physics Abstracts. know that at one time in the Ď3Os or Ď4Os more than half the support for Science Abstracts, the physics section, came from this country. And the mechanism was the Physical Society rather than the Institute, but there was a committee at the Institute that cooperated with the publishers of Science Abstracts. I think that you wonít get too much from me about that, because other people took more concern in it than did, Youíre right that I did go to England, and did sit at some kind of a meeting over there, but donít remember too much about it. And we have had the editor in this country more than once sitting at meetings in the Institute.
Weiner:There was a man named Crowther. This was the editor of Physics Abstracts.
Barton:Thatís right. Yes, we had him over.
Weiner:Getting back to subsidies, we mentioned Alfred Loomis as being involved on the Committee on the Financial Status of the Physical Review and then as the, at first anonymous, donor who would pick up the fails on the page charges. It would be interesting to know more about Alfred Loomis, I know that he was a wealthy man and that he had a private laboratory in Tuxedo Park. Robert Wood had a private laboratory there, too, unless it was the same laboratory.
Barton:It was the same.
Weiner:Oh. He provided space for Wood?
Weiner:And I know that he supported some of the cyclotron work of Lawrence. I know that heís still alive, and I hope to talk with him some day, but I would be interested to know if you had much contact with him and if you know much of his story, especially as it relates to the publication questions here.
I donít know where his money came from, and I donít know anything really about him before the time that he began inviting contingents of physicists from all around the country—not only physicists; there were chemists also, mostly physicists, though—to come for a weekend at the laboratory and see the work that they were doing. And he was singlehandedly supporting quite a lot of research work there, including Wood—other people, too. It was not Just physics. Some of it was biology or biophysics, the effect of infrared radiation on the cells, that kind of thing. He was very fascinated by clocks. He was a real physics buff, probably the greatest physics buff that weíve ever had. And he was a man of considerable ingenuity or is—at that time he was anyway—so that people of the stature of Compton and Tate and others, most of the leading physicists of the time, went to visit his laboratory some of these weekends.
I was lucky to go to one of them, because most of the people there were much more high powered than I. So much so that all these people respected him and his Judgment and his ideas. It wasnít Just that he had money or hospitality, but they found him stimulating and interesting to talk to, and they asked him to be on advisory committees. He was very prominent, you know, in the organization and operation of the Radiation Laboratory at MIT during the war. He was on the advisory committee for the physics department of MIT at least one year, probably more than one year, and in other ways he was helpful to physics. Incidentally, Margaret Compton, Karl Comptonís widow, would probably be able to tell you more about him than anybody else I can think of. And sheís quite a lady. She would be very interesting for you to talk with. And sheís quite completely on the ball. Anything that she has known she probably remembers very well, and it would be entertaining in the ways she would tell you about it.
Weiner:She lives in the Cambridge area?
Barton:In the Cambridge area. She did get an apartment, I think I heard, over across the river on Beacon Hill, but I donít know where she is now. Maybe Iím wrong about that, too. Anyway, the last comment from her that I heard about Alfred Loomis was that he was showing signs of age.* I say this because it might not be worth your while to get in touch with him, Iím not sure about that.
Weiner:He might have some personal records anyway, correspondence and materials that maybe of interest.
Barton:Oh, if you could get any records of his, they might be very valuable. Yes, that certainly is a good thought (Maybe DuBridge could get them for us).
Weiner:Iíve put it off, Luis Alvarez told me to do that two years ago. tried and he was off cruising the Mediterranean at the time on some private.
Barton:But think the approach would have to be made very carefully. He fell out with his wife, guess his first wife, about the time that this laboratory got just past its heyday but before the war; and then he didnít have any wife for a while. mean they were divorced. And after the war, he married again; and just about that time, so far as I was able to observe, his interest in science completely evaporated. It just ended, And never heard anything more about him except through Karl Compton. Know that Karl Compton had him on the corporation of MIT and went to him for advice on things, and I suspect that among the kinds of things that come to the president of a place like MIT are problems of staffing new research laboratories that big corporations are going to start up— that kind of thing. Karl Compton would probably have talked over various candidates with Alfred Loomis and see what he thought of them. And in that way the Comptons and the Loomisís stayed together. But his interest in active research in physics evaporated, and after he got through supporting the page charge he did not give any money anymore that I know of to the Physical Society or to the Institute of Physics.
Weiner:What would happen on these weekend events at his home, for example, when you were there?
Barton:Well, we had a good day on Saturday in which we went through and visited a whole lot of rooms with experiments going on in them such as you might find in any research laboratory—sort of go around the house, you know, seeing what each guy is doing in each room. And then there would be a couple of talks or sessions anyway with talks in a larger hall, room, living room, The numbers involved must have been around 30 or 40. There was a dinner, a very good dinner, and thatís about all I can really say, except the setting was beautiful—a nice house in more or less hilly open country. Tuxedo Park was quite spacious. Probably still is; I havenít been out there for years.
Weiner:Iím not clear on one thing. Did he employ a permanent staff there to work on these experiments?
Barton:He must have. He must have had very able mechanics and instrument makers, because they had good apparatus. Well, just these clocks that he had—they were called ďShorttĒ clocks— and they were the best clocks known at the time, I think this is what he was doing: 1 think he was trying to find a deviation in the coordination of clocks on this continent with clocks in Europe. I think he had in mind the possibility of continental drift before it was an acceptable idea at all, and in other astronomic ways he was interested in these clocks. And he would have to have some awfully able technicians to do the kind of work he did. That was his work. Wood and others did other kinds of work.
Weiner:Thereís a letter in the Princeton physics department files from Wood talking about his work in Tuxedo, but I had no idea that it was at Loomisís home.
Barton:Well, I say his home. Actually he had another house in which he had his domestic establishment-óhis wife and his family lived there.
Weiner:The grant from Westinghouse, was that too for a specific purpose? Was that connected with RSI?
Barton:I donít recall really what the purpose of that was. That may have been more general. It may have been used in the way that we now use the money from the associates. There was a funny misunderstanding about that, as a matter of fact. I remember going out there and talking with the people and getting a letter later on saying they had made a grant this year for $3000 without any indication that more money would be available next year on the same basis or on a slightly declining basis. And I therefore didnít ask for it. And they were surprised. They said, ďWell, if you donít want it, we wonít give it to you.Ē I always thought that was kind of too bad not to tell me that it was to be a continuing grant on an annual basis. All I had to do was to ask for it.
Weiner:I donít think you made that mistake again. This brings us back essentially to some of the origins that I wanted to ask about. This has to do with the bylaws of the Institute, the Constitution, now that weíve pursued for a bit the publication question. It raises the question of the American Chemical Society again, because apparently this served in the minds of some people not only as a model for approaches to publications but also for organization in terms of its entire setóup. Now, the concept of the American Chemical Society, the single society, was rejected; but at the same time I saw some reference to the fact that their constitution—specific things in it—helped or at least were considered when the Institute constitution was written.
Barton:I donít remember that. Our constitution, as I remember it, was cribbed from the constitution of the United Engineering Trustees.
Weiner:Yes, I recall that now. Perhaps it was that this was something that had been looked at and found not appropriate, and Iím confusing the prior decisions of the divisional concept of the American Chemical Society.
Barton:Youíre probably right. We probably did look at it. May have admired it, too, but I donít think it had much influence on the actual constitution that we developed.
Weiner:How did the approach to the AIP constitution come about? I think Pegram especially played a role in this, didnít he?
Barton:I should say he did it. He more than played a role. Everyone respected Pegram very very highly, as youíve probably gathered. When everybody didnít know what to do, they said to Pegram, ďWhat will we do?Ē And in this instance he was secretary right from the start. I think he was secretary of the first provisional board of the Institute the first time it met, Compton was president, and so it sort of was natural for Pegram, being secretary and also being resident in New York State where the corporation was established, to be the one to write the constitution, And my recollection of it is that he just came down to the office one day from Columbia and said, ďLetís write a constitution,Ē And he did, He spoke it and I wrote it longhand. There wasnít any question at all about where it came from. He had looked around, and he had decided that the constitution of the United Engineering Trustees had about the kind of form that we wanted, It was a merger, ft was a membership organization in which the members were themselves organizations, and so we wrote out such a thing, making the societies members. But under the corporation law at that time, and also for the simple act of incorporating, it was necessary to have some individual members, people who could sign their names—a corporation canít sign its name to an application to incorporate, And so there were some individual members originally of the Institute. Subsequently two things were done, One was that Pegram was able to induce the state of New York to change the corporate law to permit the existence of a corporation that had no personal members, And second, all of the original personal members of the Institute corporation resigned by prearrangement. It was understood they would do that, leaving only the societies as members.
Weiner:Change the law or interpret?
Barton:No, it was actually rewritten. A clause or two or some section of some paragraph in the statutes was actually rewritten to eliminate the necessity that some member had to be a personal member.
Weiner:But you just donít do this casually. It must have taken some time?
Barton:It took a while. How he did it, I donít know, But, of course, he was a very close friend of the dean of the law school at Columbia, and always suspected that was it, In fact, he said to me that we didnít need a lawyer to do this job of writing the constitution, because he could read the statutes of the state of New York and understand the English in them, and if he did get stuck, he could always go back to the dean of the law school and get help. donít think he ever did except in the matter of changing the corporate law of the state of New York. think he may have done that through the dean of the law school, I donít even know how he did it, but he managed it,
Weiner:Now, when we hear a reference to the bylaws of the AP, is this a sort of another way of saying the constitution, or do they mean specifically the bylaws?
Barton:No, itís a different thing.
Weiner:always thought bylaws were different, When did they develop them?
Barton:I think we had bylaws right from the start probably. The idea of the constitution was that it was hard to change, It was something that a certain fraction of the societies had to agree to, Whereas the bylaws could be written by the governing board. Much easier to change, Didnít have to be submitted for ratification back to the societies.
Weiner:And what was the procedure in writing the bylaws? I'm sure the governing board as a group didnít do it. It was either an individual or a subcommittee?
Barton:I donít remember.
Weiner:Or was it something that you prepared and proposed to them?
Barton:I donít think that did it. Probably Pegram played a large part in that, A good deal of it may have just come out of meeting the problems as we went along. The constitution said that there would be so many members of the board and some at large, and the bylaws would say, well, how do you nominate them; how do you elect them; what dates and so on and that sort of thing. You had to provide things which you didnít want to be fixed in the constitution. You wanted to have some flexibility.
Weiner:And these would relate not only to the mechanics of organization but to the relationships between the Institute and its member societies?
Weiner:The constitution in terms of the operating relationships?
Barton:Well, would say the constitution pretty well lays it down. And then that is supported or was in my time—I think it probably still is— with actual contracts between the societies and the Institute for the publication of journals and other services, The bylaws I think more of as being the rules of the board for its own guidance, as to how it was going to function, You can get a copy of the constitution and bylaws, and while theyíve been changed a great deal, the fundamental idea of the distinction between the constitution and the bylaws is I think exactly the same as it was in the beginning.
Weiner:Once that was taken care of, and once you had a consultant in on publications and began to take certain steps on the uniformity of publications to achieve certain economies—and youíve explained how some outside support was obtained, how the page charge was instituted; youíve explained how new journals or existing ones were taken over as AIP journals—there were still other things that the Institute was concerned with, There were two main areas that seemed to stand out, One is the public understanding of physics. And the other one was the applications of physics. think the two were really the same. And it seems that they. both stemmed from the same original motivation—that is, that physics could never support itself financially unless there were to be jobs for physicists, unless industry recognized that it had a stake in physics and therefore would contribute, and unless the public in some vague way understood that physics was important and affected their lives. Can we start on the public aspect of it? This wasnít a period when the public was called upon to vote for vast sums for the support of research, So what was the rationale for reaching the public? There were some very deliberate efforts made as early as 1931.
I suppose the rationale was that unless the public realized that physics was a science that was useful, resourceful, in addition to being an ivory tower academic activity, then you couldnít expect corporation managements to have a different view. And corporation managements at that time did not have a different view from the public, with the result that even in such an enlightened company as the Telephone Company, a lot of physicists had to call themselves engineers. Iím not sure whether that was true at the General Electric Company and Westinghouse, but it may have been, The fact of physics being there where it was, which was all too few places, was not recognized by name. There was never any budget for a department of physics or a department of certain kinds of physics, in these big laboratories. And that think reflected the fact that the higher ups in the corporations didnít know what physics was or what it was good for. And we thought that the only way we could approach them was really by approaching the public as a whole. Chemistry again served as an example.
This book of Slosson, Creative Chemistry, had done a wonderful public relations job for chemistry with the public. The public was very much sold on chemistry at that time. And we thought we could profit by that example. The book idea was one that we went further with later on, as you may know. Anyway the first idea was to copy the chemistsí public relations, publicity. We didnít have public relations. That wasnít a name, just publicity. And we worked on publicity by feeding stories to the press, just as you do now, and really creating stories for them to write about, putting on some kind of a shindig that would have popular appeal so that they could write it up. It was very much playing their game, and they knew it, and they helped you play yours. In those days there were very few science writers, and they were rather having trouble getting established, too, so that the more we could give them to write about that their editors would publish, the more it helped them, And they were perfectly good about helping us, telling us what would go and what wouldnít go. They even joined with us in setting up meetings, putting over promotional activities that they thought would work, They were most cooperative.
Weiner:Early in the game advance copies or proof sheets of the physics journals, were given to a selected group of science writers.
Barton:I would say that came a little bit later but not much later.
Weiner:Was that the mid Ď30s, would you say?
Barton:Yes, I would say the mid Ď30s.
Weiner:Was this effective? It seems to me it would be rather difficult to take something out of a journal and eliminate the middlemen.
Barton:Well, we often wondered how effective it was, It was certainly not effective with some of the writers, Some of them must have thrown it right in the wastebasket, It was something that was not just asked for but demanded by Waldemar Kaempffert, the science editor of the New York Times. He demanded it. He must have had files which would have filled a library, because there wasnít anything that he didnít file, And he had a very elaborate system of files, so that he could pick out anything he wanted, anything he remembered was there.
Weiner:His papers are preserved, somewhere in New York, I think.
Barton:They should be, because they must be quite an archive, He must have had some very good secretary to run this thing for him.
Weiner:Did much of it get into his columns in the Times?
Barton:ft was used some. think that if ... think that probably we justified more or less the cost of sending those things to him and perhaps to one or two others, William Laurence of the Times also wanted everything. He took me to school about that several times-everything, absolutely everything. The interesting thing is that there was no connection inside the Times organization between those two men. Kaempffert, the Sunday man, never paid any attention to the daily man and vice versa. Separate files; they never talked to each other as far as knew. I donít mean that they were unfriendly or anything, but I donít think they ever cooperated or helped each other with stuff.
Weiner:Was Kaempffert like Laurence in the sense of going out and covering scientific meetings?
Barton:No, not so much.
Weiner:know that Laurence did a great deal of that.
Barton:They were different types. Kaempffert was the German encyclopedic type. He was more likely to talk than to listen actually, but he read; he read a great deal, Laurence went out and covered meetings. He was everywhere. And he asked questions, too. n fact, in the early days of science writers some of the Physical Society meetings got pretty bored with these reporters asking questions that didnít have very much significance to the rest of the audience. They either knew them already, or they werenít very much to the point.
Weiner:You mean theyíd ask questions during the technical sessions from the floor?
Barton:Yes. When the speaker finished his talk and was open to questions, the reporters, like Bill Laurence and Gobind Behari Lal-óhe was a real pest. The others contributed something by their questions, but Lal was just a nuisance, He got up and stood on his feet trying to attract attention to himself, think, mainly.
Weiner:Who was he?
Barton:He was a science writer for the Hearst papers. He was an Indian from India: Gobind Behari Lal. He was pretty able in some ways. He turned out some good stories, but he was an awful nuisance.
Weiner:This was pre-AIP?
Barton:No, this was after we got into it.
Weiner:So he would be one of the people, Laurence, Kaempffert and some of the others—would be people whom you would have?
Barton:Yes. Lal, John OíNeill and David Dietz, David Dietz I thought was one of the better ones—very careful, meticulous, Cleveland.
Weiner:Yes, I know; I met him. What about Potter?
Barton:Oh, Bob Potter. Yes, Bob Potter was a good man. He was more a physicist than any of the others. He didnít have to learn the background as much. In fact, I think he worked for us for a while.
Weiner:Thatís why I asked. He was with Science Service, and then there was an indication he was interested in working with the Institute on this kind of a program and perhaps in connection with one of the journals as well.
Barton:Yes, we mustnít forget Watson Davis. He was in the picture then. He was quite a good man. Potter almost asked me for jobs two or three times, and I didnít have an opening for him. I think he would have been glad to be our PR man before we wanted one.
Weiner:What ever happened to him—do you know?
Barton:I donít know what became of him.
Weiner:Iíve come across more articles in the Ď3Os that were his byline articles.
Barton:He was Tribune, wasnít he?
Weiner:He was writing for Science Service and so was feeding stuff into
Barton:No, you were right. He was Science Service. It was John OíNeill, I guess, who wrote for the Tribune.
Weiner:I keep coming across letters from Potter In peopleís files. He seemed to be on top of all these hot stories. One of the public functions which was staged in order to get a close relationship established with the press, and also to get publicity, was the 1931 meeting. I guess it was a dinner meeting, at which Van de Graaff displayed his generator. What was the origin of that and how did it come off? I think Howard Blakeslee*
Barton:He was the chairman of the meeting.
Weiner:And he advised on public relations. Now, was this the same Blakeslee who was the science writer?
Weiner:Did he write for the Tribune?
Barton:No, he wrote for Associated Press.
Weiner:He advised on that. There was an inaugural dinner for the Institute, a special press dinner.
Barton:Yes. Exactly how we got in touch with him .. This was another contribution, a real contribution, made to us by the Chemical Foundation. They were very publicity minded, Everything they did, they worked as closely as ever did—more so—with the press men, with the news men, They knew them all. They had already attracted their interest, and they switched it onto us. They introduced us to them and them to us. And Buffum, who was the man with whom we worked actually—we didnít see Garvan—may have been the man who originally suggested holding this dinner, suspect he was. He certainly backed it; they even paid for it. He was a member of the New York Athletic Club and arranged for it all. And it was Howard Blakeslee who had become very friendly with Buffum, and in the same way as with us, he got stories from Buffum about science. They supported other scientific enterprises. And, of course, the Chemical Foundation was based on patents anyway; so a lot of the public relations work of the Chemical Foundation was in the field of science, and Howard Blakeslee was struggling to find enough good stuff to put out on Associated Press wired at that time, So he did work with Buffum, And I think it was Buffum who brought Blakeslee and the Institute of Physics together. donít think I was the first one that met Blakeslee. There were other people—physicists: Compton and others—who must have known him before I did, But worked with him quite closely for a while, especially in connection with this dinner, Thatís just an example of the way it worked.
Weiner:Now, when you decided to have the dinner, it was with the idea that this would result in the press getting to know you and then perhaps a few stories getting in. How did the idea of Van de Graaff performing come about?
Barton:wish could tell you that, I donít remember. knew Van de Graaff quite well, and knew his work, and knew it was surprising to me and rather spectacular to me; and I guess may have been the one who thought it was a good show, But it could have been Karl Compton, who knew it also, and perhaps knew it even better than I. So don't know whether it was Karl Compton or whether it was or both of us talking it over who got the idea of making this demonstration, the first public demonstration, of the Van de Graaff machine, a publicity feature of this dinner. I know that we had a hard time getting Van to agree to it. He was a very modest Southern type. He didnít like anything like that.
Weiner:What did it involve in terms of physical set-up?
Barton:At that time the Van de Graaff machine consisted of two separate columns which were insulating stems of some kind of plastic tubing, And then there was a silk tape that was driven by a motor at the end and carried a charge up to big brass balls about that big,(something like three feet in diameter - maybe a little more), hollow balls, One was simply set on the floor over here; another was set on the floor over there—and they were both run with separate motors carrying opposite signed charges up till a spark jumped between them, That was it. That was the demonstration of the model, You could load them into a station wagon, in other words—or perhaps two station wagons, and youíd set them together very quickly in any hall, There was no real problem about transporting them.
Weiner:Did he give a commentary at the demonstrations?
Barton:Not much, He just told a little about it and then turned out the lights and turned on the motors.
Weiner:Was there an attempt, since you were dealing with the press, to relate it to some possible application or, first, to some basic inquiry in physics beyond the device itself, and then, secondly, to some potential application?
Barton:I canít remember at all about that.
Weiner:looked for the clippings in the various files, So far havenít come across them, but we can always go into the New York Times index for that. [N,Y. Times, November 11, 1931]
Barton:No, canít remember whether it was played up as a thing that would have applications. It may well have been. Of course, people knew about high voltage. High voltage was necessary for X-rays and so on. It was necessary in atomic physics, but I donít think too many people knew about that.
Weiner:I was curious especially if there was some mention of disintegration experiments and so forth.
Barton:donít think so.
Weiner:You know, the need for high voltages in that regard.
Barton:Well, there may have been some talk about that, The new work in the Cavendish laboratories in Cambridge is what youíre talking about.
Weiner:But it comes close to that.
Barton:It never came close to that.
Weiner:This precedes the Cockcroft-Walton work, at least the success of the Cockcroft-Walton work, by about six months perhaps.
Barton:It was pretty close, I didnít remember which came first, No, I canít recall.
Weiner:But at any rate, this was a very early involvement of the Institute with the press, and it was by showing them something of physics itself.
Barton:And a rather spectacular kind of thing with a big spark. I remember there was applause when the spark flew about that distance— perhaps a couple of feet, They hadnít seen anything like that before.
Weiner:Tesla did some of the same things originally with public audiences, too, for the same purpose.
Barton:We even had newsreel people there. Pathť Newsreel was there, They didnít get a film they could use. In the first place, you darkened the room so it showed the spark, so you couldnít see the apparatus and whatís a spark in the dark? Itís not worthwhile showing it, They couldnít get anything out of it.
Weiner:The relationship with the press then was essentially centered in your person. mean you had advice, but it was through conversations you would have with science writers, and special programs.
Barton:Yes. Whenever there was a meeting of the Physical Society, too, I was available to introduce them to authors or try to explain something they didnít understand. That got to the point where I was fed up with it actually, because it just took all my time. couldnít go and hear any paper for myself, and was still interested in certain fields of physics. So that really had become less useful to them think some time before we got any public relations staff work, Gene Kone wasnít quite the first, You mentioned Bob Potter. think we had him as a consultant for meetings or something like that two or three times, and we had one or two girls who were pretty good at this work and handled the reporters nicely and helped them, So we werenít completely a vacuum on it, but there was a period there where the service we gave was certainly unsatisfactory, and thatís what led us to employing Gene Kone, And even then we were a little bit reluctant, Gene sold himself to us by coming and doing a job on one of our big meetings. He did such a good job that we knew we had to have him.
Weiner:This was much later, in the post-war period.
Weiner:Did you feel you were making any headway, letís say in the first five years—letís say by 1936—in regard to the public understanding of physics? Was there any way that you could have measured this?
Barton:Yes. Itís hard to say that there was a way we could measure it except by general impressions, that you began to see the word ďphysicsĒ in the newspapers; and you began to see that somebody got married to somebody who was a physicist. That was quite a change, that anybody would say they married anybody called a physicist. You might marry an engineer or a chemist but not a physicist.
Weiner:You might marry a physicist, but they donít put it in the press.
Barton:They donít say so, no; because nobody knows what that is. But anyway that kind of indication I think had come up.
Weiner:Iíve done a survey of the New York Times index and the Guide to Periodical Literature regarding physics articles. I find a great deal on current physics and some very high-quality stuff, and thereís no way, of course, of saying how they got their stories; but it would be interesting some time to show you this list. Iíve pulled out excerpts, particularly in the field of nuclear physics and accelerators and so forth. Itís pretty rich. In other words, if you were a reader of the Times, think you would have gotten a great deal.
Barton:Well, Waldemar Kaempffert did a good job with his science page, and Bill Laurence did, and John OíNeill must have been a very good friend of the editor of the Tribune because he had a very good page Howard Blakeslee was more a motivator and a man who would take a lot of stuff and boil it down to the gem, a little thing that the country editors could appreciate because of the way it was written more than because of its content, And that would go out on the wires, So without him, you wouldnít have had much coverage outside of a few centers like New York and Cleveland and Washington. There was a good man on the Post I should have mentioned some time ago. The Washington Post had a very good man. Unfortunately, he became an alcoholic*, I heard; but he was a good man. So that aside from some of those leading newspapers in the East and in Cleveland, there wouldnít have been very much about physics or any other science in the country papers without Howard Blakesleeís little gems that he sent out. He always had to get an angle on a story to make it go, to make it acceptable to the country papers. And he would puzzle himself, and would get him to a meeting and weíd go over something or other that was presented there, and he would say, ďItís good; itís important, but how can I use it?Ē He said, ďWell, maybe Iíll just have to create it. Iíll have to make the story.Ē And he was pretty good at making the story, but at least he got attention. He didnít give what we would call adequate coverage of the subject at all, but he got attention and it was not undignified. It was a little flip sometimes, but it was not undignified.
Weiner:Yet there was a sort of negative reaction in one sense in the Depression years, not directed at physics necessarily but against science as being the evil doer in terms of being the basis for technology, which in fact was what the Institute was saying science was doingó-that in fact it was leading to applications. And yet in the context of the Depression some people interpreted technology as an evil and the cause of widespread technological unemployment, they said. And they called for a moratorium on science, a holiday on research. I know the Institute reacted to that, and Iíve looked into some of the documentation. A number of things puzzled me, One is the source of this protest, the source of the accusation that science, in fact, was responsible in some way for the Depression, how widespread it was, and then of course the reaction of the Institute itself.
Barton:Iím not clear about the source of it, I think probably labor unions must have started some of it. They probably felt that this was a fact, and that they should protest it. And you could imagine that some unions—take, for instance, livery stablemen: technology pretty well eliminated them—and then later on trolley cars declined a lot, I donít need to spell it out, the ways in which the number of jobs involved in making something better than they had before that did the same work was greatly decreased. So thereís no question about the fact of technological unemployment. The thing that we had to get across was that the industries that were created by science more than made up and created more jobs than the ones that were lost by the obsolescence of other industries. And I think thatís what we tried to do. That was the theme of that Science Makes Jobs public meeting that we had, with speakers. Of course, we were preaching to the converted ones that came to hear that. They were people who were interested in it any way and were willing to agree with it, but it gave us a chance to publish in the newspapers and get on the air; we had radio broadcasts in connection with it—things that a lot more people did hear and read that were not converted,
Weiner:I gathered in reading about it that there was a sense of urgency about it. Thatís why my question
Barton:There was so much unemployment that it was a serious thing all right.
Weiner:Oh, of course, in that sense, but I mean that there was a feeling of a need to reply dramatically, publicly and just as soon as possible, and yet weíve never been able to identify where the outcry was coming from. Thereís no doubt that the Depression existed, but looked in the Guide to Periodical Literature and so forth, and found only one reference to this. I found plenty of rejoinders on the part of Millikan and others in this symposium and on other occasions. I found Henry Wallace writing an article also responding but in a somewhat different tone than the scientific community, saying, ďYou have to restructure society somewhat in order to accommodate science and technology, which in themselves are good things,Ē which was a different view than the critics. But never could find who the real critics were except for one man at MIT who wrote a letter to Science magazine or one of the magazines commenting on one of these reactions and saying, ďYou may be reacting, but this is our view-óthat there should be a moratorium on science.Ē His name was L. Magruder Passano. Does that name mean anything?
Weiner:He was a professor in one of the social sciences. [Actually, a mathematician interested in scientific management, economics, etc. - C.W.]
Barton:Well, now, that suggests one possible source, It may have come out of the social sciences.
Weiner:Well, part of the complaint, although I found no evidence in the social sciences except for this one man—part of the complaint, of course, was to give the social sciences an opportunity to catch up with the physical sciences so weíd know how to handle these things.
Barton:Yes. When I said that I thought probably some of this came from labor unions, thatís more a guess than a fact that I know, canít recite any statement made by labor union leaders, Well, I suppose also it came out of editorial writing. It was kind of a groundswell, as felt it—editorialówriting of a company town where there was a local industry that was going down, you know, where the local editor would look around and see what he could blame for it—in science. I think it was there all right, but I canít pinpoint the sources any better than you can.
Weiner:The Times reacted editorially to the AIP ďScience Makes JobsĒ symposium. They werenít completely satisfied.
Barton:They were not satisfied? I didnít remember that.
Weiner:And they said, ďYou really havenít talked about the fundamental problems.Ē Anyway, the symposium was organized with the perception of this widespread criticism and the feeling that it needed to be answered in a very dramatic public way. Who was the moving force in the symposium itself and in the recognition that one should be held?
Barton:Not me primarily. Iíve forgotten who the others were now, There was a thing called the New York Electrical Society, and if you could find the name of the secretary of that, I think he was about as active as anybody in it.
Weiner:He may be mentioned ... No, it doesnít mention his name. It just mentions that the symposium was Science Makes More Jobs, a joint meeting of AIP and the New York Electrical Society, February 22nd, 1934. But :thereís no indication of ... Was there someone by the name of Young? There was someone by the name of Young involved in the program.
Barton:I canít remember his name. But he was the one, I think, who came to me and said, ďI think we ought to do this.Ē And then there were others who backed us up on it. It was the first thing that I did in sort of cooperation with other scientific and technological societies outside of physics. Later we got into more of that. But this was an enterprise of local New York things which were backing science. It seems to me that the Institute of Radio Engineers took some interest in it. They were there in New York, too, and more alive in relation to physics than the other engineering societies were, but who were the others, I donít know. Was Waldemar Kaempffert one of the speakers at that meeting?
Weiner:No, the speakers were Karl Compton, Jewett, Millikan and Coolidge.
Barton:The latter two on radio.
Weiner:Yes, and then there were messages read, I think from Owen D. Young, who was connected with GE, and from President Roosevelt and from Einstein. These were brief messages from Einstein and from Roosevelt.
Barton:Owen D. Young—I think he was president of the board of GE at that time; the President.
Weiner:But I donít recall anybody else on the program. I had a pretty good account from the AIP files.
Barton:Do you have the message from Roosevelt there?
Weiner:An excerpt. We do have the original letter.
Barton:You do have it? I wondered about what had become of that paper.
Weiner:Yes, Wallace Waterfall preserved it and turned it over to us about a year or so ago.
Barton:The reason I wanted to read it was that Iím not sure I didnít write it.
Weiner:I see; thatís interesting. I found those drafts of it. I thought that this was a rather on-the-fence letter frankly. I thought it was a bit of a political letter.
Barton:Well, you know, when you write a letter for the President to sign, you weasel it or he wonít sign it.
Weiner:I see, because he says (someone says here) from President Rooseveltís letter: ďThe idea that science is responsible for the economic ills which the world has recently experienced can be questioned.Ē This is a point of view that heís taking no position on. But he goes on to a more positive statement: ďft would be more accurate to say that the fruits of scientific thought and development, properly directed, can help revive industry.Ē
Barton:wouldnít be surprised if at least the wording or the sense of the letter was suggested from my office, although he may have had it redrafted. But certainly remember having in mind: ďNow, Iíve got to put a letter in front of him that he will not be afraid to sign. And maybe he wouldnít go so far as would like him to. If have him go all the way Iíd like him to, then heíll say, ďI wonít sign that.íĒ So it is a bit weasely and intentionally so. At least he did sign it.
Weiner:On the other hand, Einsteinís letter—was that similar?
Barton:didnít make any suggestion to Einstein, Iím sure.
Weiner:I think he wrote a letter in German and then it was translated.
Barton:must have solicited those letters. I must have written to a lot of people asking for comments.
Weiner:I think Einstein was invited, and then when he couldnít participate ... He had the grippe, as it was still called at that time, I guess, and he couldnít come and wrote this letter instead and gave permission to use it. But this was a new departure for the Institute in two ways, I think—one you mentioned, in cooperation with other scientific and technical societies. The second departure is in taking the offensive on a public issue, which almost gets into the area of politics but not quite. Itís a little different than public relations. Itís really selling science and meeting some kind of perhaps politically and economically based criticisms, meeting it head on and taking an opposing view. Were there any qualms about that or any feeling that this was outside of the role of the Institute?
Barton:No, I donít think so. might qualify that a little bit, There are two possible kinds of qualms, one being legal: in other words, would it jeopardize our tax-exempt status? The other qualm was there, donít think we worried about that in this connection, the legal qualm. The other qualm was the general reluctance of physicists to accept publicity as a gentlemanly thing. There was a lot of that. I had some sympathy with it, but I had to overcome it. But a lot of people just felt that if they became known as a publicity-hound it detracted from their reputation and standing with other physicists. And Millikan was often derided, You probably remember the joke about the enormous unit of publicity of the ďKan,Ē ďThe Kan was so large that even the Millikan is too much for most people.Ē ft was an impression of an attitude that certainly did exist at this time. And it took a certain amount of pushing on the part of Compton and Foote and me and others to change the others—insofar as we succeeded; we didnít succeed altogether. I think thereís probably still a certain modesty or reluctance to talk among many physicists, but partly because they didnít want to look as if they were publicity hounds and partly because they were afraid of being quoted inaccurately— you know, ďThis stuff isnít right.Ē
Weiner:Thatís true in other fields, too.
Barton:I had a hard time with Zwicky one time when I was helping newsmen cover a talk of his, We got him out after the talk, and the newsmen were asking him questions and asking him if they wouldnít give him a statement, He said, ďCertainly I wonít give a statementĒ and he was rather huffy about it, The newsmen were sort of sorry for me that had to take this. Anyway, it was more on the grounds, think, of being misquoted. If there was going to be any publicity coming out from Zwicky, it was going to come out from Zwicky himself and not from me and not on the spur of the moment, It was going to be written, and he was going to see the proofs of what they were going to write, etc., etc., you see.
Weiner:I can understand that attitude unless you have confidence that you can delegate this to someone else who would uphold the standards.
Barton:Iím sure Gene Kone runs into it to this day.
Weiner:Right. And I think that if you make one mistake that you undo a year or two of good will, itís a very vulnerable kind of position to be in, The Depression, which caused this attitude—which we havenít been able fully to define, but at least thereís a feeling that it existed regarding the role of science—did affect science itself, You indicated this, of course, in the problems of journals and jobs. How did you assess the impact of the Depression on physics? I know you have to think of different periods, because although officially there was a crash in Ď29, guess the effects werenít felt until later and then there were minor recoveries and setbacks, From your position within AIP, did you see that the Depression as such was an issue of the time that really had to be dealt with and responded to? donít mean in an economic sense, but I mean so far as the welfare of physicists.
Barton:I think only in the directions of its being hard to support the publication of the journals and also hard for all the physicists to find jobs as physicists. That hasnít been talked of very much in what weíve gone through, but there was this angle, I think, as part of the thing that people had in mind in establishing the Institute and using publicity in getting physics better known and interesting industry in using physics. One of the motivations back of that was that it was hard to place the graduates in jobs, with one result that a great many people just didnít graduate, They stayed around in graduate school for an extra year or two years. They were not too unwelcome, because they helped to carry the teaching load, But they would not have stayed if there had been good jobs available; they would have gone out into them.
Weiner:Of course, the means to keep them around were also being diminished,
Barton:Yes. The experimental work was, of course, a lot cheaper then, though. You could make two theses out of the same apparatus. That is, one man used it after the other did. Well, I did that in my own thesis work. Another man had used the same apparatus, and I took it over from him. So that there were various ways of stretching money, and the apparatus itself was much less elaborate and less costly then, In that way the universities managed to get through. Endowment money went further because costs did go down, costs of buying things that you needed— probably costs of labor, too, although canít remember that from personal experience because never paid anybody in those days. But it certainly was hard to get jobs in industry. There were a lot of perfectly good people going around and coming to the Institute to see if we couldnít do something for them. But 1 had forgotten until somebody reminded me or looked it up—maybe it was youó-how early we got into the placement business. We got into it way back at the very beginning, and I hadnít remembered that. It was a sideline activity. We werenít anxious to get into it, because we probably didnít think we could do a very good job at it; and the way we could do a job on it was this more general thing of establishing more demand. But actually placing people and find jobs for a man, Joe Smith to go to work for somebody—we werenít organized for it; we didnít know how to do it, and we didnít think we were likely to be successful I remember G, W. Stewart coming to me once and asking me if we were going to do that. I said, ďI donít know whether we are or not,Ē He said, ďWell, donít,Ē He didnít think it would work, that we would be successful at it.
Weiner:It wasnít whether it would be appropriate or not?
Barton:No, I think not. I think he simply had in mind that we probably wouldnít do a good job at it and it would detract from our reputation to do other things well.
Weiner:Was there any attempt at that time to find out what the effects of the Depression actually were on the departments? How many people needed jobs, for example?
Barton:It wasnít done from the Institute, as far as I can remember. Other people may have. No, I donít remember anything like that, It would have been a very good thing, a thing we would have done later on very readily—when we got interested in manpower. Thatís the kind we would lap up now. But I donít think we did it at all, no.
Weiner:Well, I guess NRC and AAUP were both in quite a different sense keeping some figures. NRC in general was monitoring the number of Ph.D.ís produced, and the AAUP was concerned with .., They had a committee with Richtmyer as a matter of fact.
Barton:I remember he was in that.
Weiner:I donít remember whether it was AAUP or the American Association of Universities. It may have been one or both.
Barton:He could have been on either or both,
Weiner:Right. And it was ďCommittee YĒ on the effects of the Depression, and they looked into just who was affected and at what level, who took pay cuts, how many jobs were available, The unfortunate thing is that in the reports that I read there is no real breakdown on physics—I would love to have seen a breakdown—and I donít know of anything being done within the Institute on that, either.
Barton:I donít think there was anything.
Weiner:All this relates to a statement made by Paul Foote about 1933, think, in his presidential address to the American Physical Society where he talked about the profession having grown so rapidly: ďWe have grown like Topsy, and if we donít have a thorough sociological analysis of it, we may face an autopsy.Ē This was a statement in his.
Barton:This was early in Ď33 that he said this.
Weiner:Yes, actually, late in 1933. And I was curious as to whether this reflected any internal discussions of whether there was a need for the Institute or for some other agency to have a much better idea of manpower relationships, of the educational-job linkages and so forth.
Barton:Yes, Well, what you say is true. Now, why would the profession increase so rapidly up till Ď33 .. can think of the one reason that mentioned, that people got started before 1929, when the crash came, into their graduate course and were still coming out. They were staying in as long as they could and then coming out, And then there had been a lot of support like the National Research Fellowships to encourage good men to stay in science and not go out and get a business job and go through graduate school, And they would get a chance to get their research started afterward. That had helped to boost the profession. think that must be it. do recollect that at that time there was quite a growth in physics professionals.
Weiner:Yes, I have some statistics. ft had really taken root and had taken off by the end of the Ď20s, There was a combination of large endowments given by the Rockefeller Foundation to a number of centers throughout the country—the NRC fellowships; the general expansion of graduate education in all fields in the United States that took place in the Ď20s, There was a period consolidation, of strengthening of great departments. For example, there was a tremendous investment of Rockefeller funds in the Princeton physics department. And Caltech also benefitted. Chicago did, and so forth.
Barton:There were some awfully good physicists who were able to attract funds by their ability, like Millikan and Karl Compton and Arthur Compton, DuBridge. Well, DuBridge really came a little later, suppose. But what you say is true, and think they were over-producing at that time. The outlet, the jobs, were not available for them outside of academic circles.
Weiner:Thatís what Iím trying to get at, When does consciousness of the need to convince industry of the need for physicists come about? It seems to me it doesnít come out of the air, that you have here a group of physicists needing jobs and not enough places for them in the academic system; therefore, somebody else has to be convinced. And you see no great arguments in the l920s about applying physics to industry, but it becomes one of the mandates of the new Institute.
Barton:It goes back to that Committee on Applied Physics. Wasnít Foote chairman of that committee before he was president of the society?
Weiner:Yes, I think so.
Barton:He was in a position to see it. He was not in academic circles. He was in the Bureau of Standards and then he went to Gulf. So he had a broader view of the situation than most of the leadership in the Physical Society did have.
Weiner:I think thatís something I am going to explore at length in my own research. But Iím most concerned now with the Instituteís program in this field. How did you go about carrying out that part of the program-óthat is, to relate physics to industry more? Of course, we talked of this meeting, but then, it seems to me.
Barton:No, that was more public. Now, you want to get it down to industries more. Of course, we tried a lot of things. We began to have meetings of the physicists in industry. I think we had something called the Advisory Council on Applied Physics. You may have records of that. Hutchisson was very much involved in that; But we certainly did get wonderful interest and support from the physicists who were high in industry, like Oliver Buckley of the Bell Laboratories, president of the Laboratories, and the people in Westinghouse and General Electric and other companies, and the optics people from Rochester and several companies up there. They all came to these meetings, and they gave their opinions and advice. They helped us to see what we had to do. Well, one of the things that we had to do was get out the Journal of Applied Physics. We didnít know it was going to be called that, but that was certainly one of the things. Mother thing was that we should have more programs at national meetings which would be related to applied physics. And, of course, we made our fifth anniversary meeting of the Institute such a meeting almost exclusively for that purpose. We staged (maybe this was as much my idea as anyoneís, my contribution to it) conferences around the country of physics in this, that and the other industry. Youíve got a record of some of those. We had one in physics in the metal industry up at MIT. I wanted to have one in physics in the automotive industry, but I donít think that quite came off. And Iíve really forgotten what they were all in—it was so far back— and each one was in a different part of the country. We invited the most interesting speakers we could possibly get; we sent out publicity on it, local as well as national. And particularly we hoped we would get the companies in those industries to send other people to them than their own technical people and get the idea that physics was useful to those industries. I think they were worthwhile. I think they succeeded as far as they went.
Weiner:What was the aim?
Barton:To take industry by industry, to try to sell the idea that physics ... We got people to talk about what physics was already doing in the industry. It was Just the question of getting the people who controlled the flow of money to know that.
Weiner:To get them to the meeting or get them to read the proceedings that were published.
Barton:Yes, we would publish a special issue of a journal based on this conference.
Weiner:There was a special conference on physics in industry, which came out as a book.
Barton:That was based on that fifth anniversary meeting, wasnít it, in New York?
Weiner:This is the program of the fifth anniversary.
Barton:think the physics in industry came out of that, It was a collection of the papers more or less, wasnít it?
Weiner:Yes, these are merely abstracts of contributed papers. And the book, guess, was the major paper. But I meant on these others—for example, at MIT, if you had something on physics in metals, youíd probably involve Zay Jeffries or someone like that ... And then that would be published as a special issue of Journal of Applied Physics.
Weiner:Who paid for this? There had to be some money to create the conference.
Barton:Not an awful lot. We usually managed to stage them at some place like MIT. One was at the University of Michigan. And they provided the halls and facilities, and the local people established a host committee. There wasnít much money involved. Weíd get people to write for nothing. The main expense was traveling to get there and the publication of the papers later in book form or in journal form.
Weiner:I notice in the files a reference to an AIP-sponsored conference on applied nuclear physics. This was 19140, Was this in the same category or not? It doesnít occur to me that nuclear physics was being applied to industry at that stage.
Barton:When was this?
Barton:Did the conference come off?
Weiner:I think so. I just saw a reference to it that it had occurred,
Barton:Oh. I wonder if that was ours. There were conferences on applied nuclear physics that we did not sponsor.
Weiner:Let me check on that, [Conference on Applied Nuclear Physics, sponsored by AIP in cooperation with MIT, was held at Cambridge Oct. 28- Nov. 2, 19140, It was chaired by Robley Evans,]
Barton:I did have this idea,, [Barton note: This was later and concerned atomic energy,] I did want very much to have a good conference on nuclear physics, industrialó-applied nuclear physics. Thatís the word you used, and itís the best. And I went around some to places where they were doing work on, for instance, atomic power plants and I didnít succeed, They didnít want that many meetings. They had had enough meetings.
Weiner:By that time.
Barton:By that time, yes.
Weiner:This was the Immediate post-war period.
Barton:What I was afraid of was that here was another case of division taking place—fission in physics. You were losing an essential part of physics, just as It had happened before with radio. And that wasnít what the Institute was for. The Institute was to reverse Just exactly that. But I wasnít able to swing it. I think I know what this other thing was—applied nuclear physics. Applied nuclear science was more likely what It was called, and It was put on by other outfits. Doesnít It still run?
Weiner:I donít know. You think of people like Robley Evans and others who were Involved In some aspects of applied nuclear physics.
Barton:It was a more commercialized thing. I donít think that any scientific society backed It. It was more somebody who saw the possibilities of having an Instrument exhibit In It that would be profitable then.
Weiner:I was thinking of pre-war, though. Were you aware of that? The conference I had in mind specifically was 1940. There was a title and Iím not
Barton:Well, letís look it up, because I donít know what that was.
Weiner:I have a reference in some other batch of notes. Now, getting back to some of these questions, when does the manpower concern come in? Was It Just the result of the war emergency?
Barton:I would say yes to that.
Weiner:In that case, I would leave that to another discussion, because It leads Into another area.
Barton:Certainly my interest In manpower didnít develop until we got Into connection with the National Roster and the shortage of physicists, and I went down to Washington and had various things—oh, helping the Signal Corps to get people to work radar and that kind of thing. It was then that we got Interested In manpower.
Weiner:Thatís a separate story that we wonít have time for today. But getting back to the question of physics In industry, other than these special programs—regional conferences, special symposia—was there any attempt to do something at the universities, where, in fact, people were being trained In a certain way about physics, which may have been out of phase with the reality of how physics was going to be used?
Barton:Not early. I think perhaps only after the war can I remember anything of that sort. And then it was simply by presenting statistics, that came out of the manpower studies, like Sylvia Barisch is carrying on now. You can see what theyíre being trained In and then compare It with the distribution of employees in those fields.
Weiner:Well, I detect, though, in reading some of Paul Footeís statements, that he already felt that physicists werenít paying industry His criticisms were directed at physics not at industry, and he was saying that physics was not paying enough attention to industry, that the values being stressed were such as to encourage them not to go into industry, and in fact things should be changed somewhat. And I wondered if the Institute followed up on that suggestion at all and directed itself internally on this question.
Barton:I donít recall that we did very much. We may have done some. To put it another way, what youíre saying is that in those days there was an awful lot of work done on atomic spectra and on atomic energy levels of the visible spectra lines and ultra -violet lines, and weíre not talking now about the nucleus at all. And people wondered whether such a preparation was any good for a man who was not going to work with spectroscopy, who was going to work with the hardness of rubber when it was ten months old or something like that, you see. And I think that could have been what Foote was driving at; that the whole graduate course leading to the Ph.D. was oriented toward a physics that could not be applied insofar as we could see then—in most cases, it has been applied since, but as far as you could see, it was applicable—and he saw no reason why we couldnít train physicists who would be more acceptable and more wanted by industry. Isnít that what he had in mind?
Barton:Now, whether the Institute did anything more than Just publish Footeís words, I donít recall anything. It may have been that in little editorial writings in the Physics Forum in the RSI, I might have sounded the same note; but there wasnít anything consistent or planned or continuous.
Weiner:Well, I gather the Institute had no way of developing expertise on physics education anyway at the time. There was no set-up in the Institute, and it was sort of left to the American Association of Physics Teachers
Barton:Which was academically-oriented also.
Weiner:I could check in their publications and files to see if they picked up this call.
Barton:Yes, if weíd gotten into that, we might have had a Committee on the Education of Physicists for Industry or something like that. I donít think we ever did. I donít think we ever did anything systematic on that.
Weiner:Well, there were a number of symposia which were critiques of physics, but these were outside speakers, usually from industry, criticizing
Barton:No, those were those leading industries that I speak of, and they were not aimed directly anyway. Maybe we had the thought that they might have some influence on the provision of courses in graduate schools that would be useful to those industries. But I donít think we were very explicit about it ever. Shall we break off now? Barton 56
Letís just say something to remind us. One thing that I wanted to ask you was about the contributing associates, how that started and about any relationship at all with government prior to World War Thatís just a reminder.
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