Oral History Transcript — Dr. Elmer Hutchisson
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Elmer Hutchisson; October 22, 1970
ABSTRACT: Childhood in Cleveland, 1902-1919; interest in mechanical things and in physics, Joseph Valasekís influence. At Case Western Reserve University (Dayton Miller), 1919-1923; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1923-1924; University of Minnesota, 1924-1926; work with Paul Heymans on photo-elasticity; John Van Vleckís student. Marriage to Joseph Valasekís sister,1925. About Anthony Zeleny, J. Valasek. University of Pittsburgh, 1926-1941; with Erwin SchrŲdinger in Berlin, 1929; interest in pedagogy and development of teaching equipment. American Institute of Physics (AIP) 5th anniversary conference 1936. At Case Western, 1944-1957 (Dean of Faculty, Dean of Graduate School, and Director of Research Division). AIP Directorship, 1957-1964; fundraising, the Niels Bohr Library and Archives. Also prominently mentioned are: Charles A. Coffin, Enrico Fermi, Theodore Folke, Dannie Heineman, Rose Hutchisson, Mervin J. Kelly, Albert Abraham Michelson, Dayton C. Miller, Morris Muscat, Jason John Nassau, George Braxton Pegram, John Torrence Tate, Oscar William Torreson; American Association of Physics Teachers Commission on College Physics, American Institute of Physics Corporate Associates, American Institute of Physics War Policy Committee, American Physical Society, Central Scientific Company, Council on Applied Physics, International Business Machines Corporation, Journal of Applied Physics, Review of Scientific Instruments, and Universitat Berlin.
Weiner:This is Side 1 of Tape 1. We are sitting in the lovely habitation of Dr. Hutchisson in the fragrant Portola Valley and today is October 22, 1970. I think we should start from the beginning, would like to ask about your home life in Cleveland as a child. You went to high school at West Tech so you must have lived on the west side of Cleveland.
Hutchisson:No, actually we lived on the east side. I even remember the address: 2328 East 89th Street. When I started high school went to East Technical High School, for one semester -- in fact, for just a summer actually. And then my family moved to the west side, so from then on went to West Technical High School. My father was in the wholesale hardware business so we always had a lot of tools around, and I became interested in tools, Mechano sets, and all kinds of radios and mechanical things. That is really how my interest in science began, I guess, although I recently have been looking up some of the family history and I find that the use of tools and carpentry seems to run in the family. My grandfather was a carpenter and saw mill owner, and my great great grandfather was also a part time carpenter. It seems as though this interest has been in the family for a long time and such work comes to me very easily. I now build such things as mahogany cabinets and am very much used to working with my hands in any kind of mechanical activity.
Weiner:Did you get involved in any of the ham radio business at the time?
Hutchisson:Oh yes, I used to have a wireless before the days of voice when you were just listening for signals, although I never really did learn the code any more than in a very elementary way. I wasnít a true ham as some were. A friend of mine joined me and we had a shop in the basement -- a machine and chemistry laboratory -- and we had quite a good many machine tools, lathes and a drill press and tools of that kind. This all stood me in good stead when I went to West Tech because I could take a lot of courses in mechanical drawing, welding shop, pattern-making, cabinet-making, and machine shop. So when my final record came out, I had so many of these -- what I would call simple courses -- that I got a very high grade. In fact, I was valedictorian of the class but without having done very well in the more normal courses like English or political science. The mathematics that we had was really quite simple -- to trigonometry.
Weiner:When one goes to a specialized high school, either East or West Tech, is this a city-wide school?
Hutchisson:There were only two that I remember: one on the east side of Cleveland and one on the west side, so they were specialized in that sense. And I know I had to walk about a half hour to get to high school. There may have been a closer high school but it never occurred to me to go to anything but a technical high school because that was what I was interested in.
Weiner:When you say ďinterested,Ē you certainly were interested in those activities because you yourself indulged in them, but did you have in mind that they would lead to some particular occupation?
Hutchisson:No, it was Just a matter of coming naturally. I had decided fairly early that I was going to go to Case, but I donít remember exactly when. When I finished high school, I was only 16, and I had to get special permission to get into Case because I was a little bit under age for their admission requirements but this wasnít any real problem. Dean Theodore Folke was there at the time. I donít know if you ever met him or not?
Weiner:No, is there a company in Cleveland with his name?
Hutchisson:If so, it is probably his sonís. He was Dean of the Faculty when I entered. In fact, later he was the man that I replaced when I went to Case in 1945.
Weiner:Did you take a competitive city-wide examination for West Tech or East Tech?
Hutchisson:No, there werenít any kind of city-wide examinations. However, they did give us an aptitude test, but I think they gave us that after we were admitted. I think we were admitted primarily on the basis of high school records. Because I had taken so many shop courses, my record was pretty good. Also I had taken a fair amount of mathematics.
Weiner:You are talking about Case now?
Hutchisson:No, I meant in high school for admission to Case.
Weiner:I was thinking of a test for high school itself as a specialized school.
Hutchisson:Oh no, you just entered if you wished. I donít think there was any specialized requirement, and I think actually that people who were close by in the neighborhood went there automatically. It wasnít quite like the science school in New York City where you really do have to have a specialized training.
Weiner:Brooklyn Tech, for example, is difficult to get into. One further question about family background: was there a tradition of college?
Hutchisson:No, I think I was the first member of my family who went to college and neither my brother nor my sister went to college. I seemed to be the one in the family that was interested in books.
Weiner:Were there books in the home?
Hutchisson:Nothing special because neither my mother nor my father were readers to any great extent. They didnít do more than read the evening paper or a few magazines. So that whatever books were there were mostly ones that I had brought in myself. I probably had quite a few books.
Weiner:Had your fatherís occupation changed during the years?
Hutchisson:It had, only in sort of a minor sense. He was born in Ostrander, Ohio, which is near Columbus, and he came to Cleveland at a quite young age, sixteen or so, to make his way in the world, and got into the hardware business, first as a travelling salesman. He was a travelling salesman when I was a youngster so he was away for quite long periods of time, maybe two or three weeks at a time, and then heíd come home for a short time. Then later he became an official in the company -- it was a large wholesale hardware company -- and finally he became president of the company. When I was going through high school, for example, he was at that time president of what was called the Luetkemeyer Company in Cleveland.
Weiner:And then he was doing relatively well economically?
Hutchisson:Yes, I think we were certainly a middle or an upper-middle class family, if you use that terminology. We had a nice house on Lake Avenue on the west side right near the Lake. We used to go in swimming every day -- just put on our bathing suits at home and walked down to the beach -- it was very convenient.
Weiner:It is a nice area out there.
Hutchisson:It was a very nice area. I think it was nicer at that time than it is now. As it turns out, the area that I lived in on the east side has become quite a slum now.
Weiner:Another question about your own interest in books and in going to high school: did you have in mind when you went to high school that it would lead to college and that was what you definitely wanted to do?
Hutchisson:I donít think I thought about that until near the senior year. I took the things that were interesting. I spent quite a bit of time with chemistry, and, of course, physics. West Tech didnít have very much physics but I took whatever physics they had. I met Rose, my wife, in the chemistry class. She was taking chemistry at the same time and I was sort of an assistant to the teacher and so I helped her with some of her experiments and that is how we first got acquainted.
Weiner:Was that any influence because her brother was involved in science?
Hutchisson:Yes, it probably was. It was in her family that members went on to college and her brother, Joseph Valasek, went to Case.
Weiner:How big was the difference in age?
Hutchisson:He must be five or six years older, at least. Maybe a little more than that.
Weiner:Did you know him at that time?
Hutchisson:I donít think I knew him in high school, no. I believe he was in Washington at that time. I met him later but I donít really remember just when. I didnít really know him but I heard a great deal about him through his sister.
Weiner:But he had already started on the path to a scientific career.
Hutchisson:Yes, I think probably by that time he had already graduated from Case. He must have graduated in about 1916 or so. I graduated in 1923 so he was about seven years ahead of me. Our paths didnít cross. He must have been already working for the Bureau of Standards in Washington at the time I was in Case. But Iím sure that his experience influenced me, probably through Rose.
Weiner:When you were in high school and you were starting to take courses in chemistry and physics and doing your own reading, you say, at that time, toward your senior year you recognized that you wanted to go to Case. When you did make that decision, was it with a specific career field in mind? Had you an engineering degree in mind?
Hutchisson:I donít think I really knew at the time and I probably was influenced toward physics as a result of Joe Valasekís interest in physics, although I found that physics and math came fairly easily and so in my Freshman year at Case probably did better in these courses, and, of course, we had mechanical drawing which was always a cinch for me, so I did well and sort of automatically drifted into physics, but Iím not quite sure why. Also there was a friend of mine, the late George Snyder -- we were quite close as freshmen and we went into physics and I went with him. That may be the main reason why although I think it is primarily because I did reasonably well in physics.
Weiner:Just one further thing about high school: it occurred to me that as the valedictorian you might have had to deliver a valedictory.
Hutchisson:No, I donít think so, I donít think they did that at that time, so I didnít have to.
Weiner:I was curious because if you did it might give us a clue to what you were thinking at the time.
Hutchisson:No, I donít think there was any such thing. In fact, I am quite sure that none was expected. You knew Elmer Lindseth? Elmer Lindseth was in class at Case at the same time as I was and we were both interested in physics, and we competed for some prize in physics, and I think he beat me out. He was a very good student.
Weiner:What was the position he ended up with? As chairman of the...
Hutchisson:Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company, and he is now, or was, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Case.
Weiner:At Case, I assume you had a standard physics course to start with. Who taught that? Do you recall?
Hutchisson:There were two or three people. I donít know whether you know Charles D. Hodgeman. He was in charge of the elementary physics course. In fact, he is still living, retired in New England. Another man was John G. Albright who was there. They taught the elementary courses, Dayton C. Miller gave lectures from time to time in the elementary course. He always gave his annual phonodeik lecture in which musical sounds and voice vibrations were projected on a screen. The lecture was very dramatic and interested a lot of people. If I remember correctly though, I took physics in the sophomore year, so didnít really begin specializing until the junior year.
Weiner:And then you elected physics as your major? I think it is the procedure that they donít allow you to do that until you get the basic mathematics.
Hutchisson:Yes, that was it. I had taken some math, and I think we took chemistry in the first year and a lot of drawing and descriptive geometry, and some English, political science, and economics.
Weiner:Was Jerry Telleen there?
Hutchisson:He wasnít there. He had already left. I met Jerry Telleen later but I never knew him at the time. We had Professor Thompson. He was in charge of the English at that time. I was a sophomore, I believe, when Jason Nassau came to Case, and so I had Jason Nassau as an Instructor in either Trigonometry or Calculus.
Weiner:He came about Ď20 or Ď21?
Hutchisson:Yes. I entered in 1919, and so I guess he came in 1921 or perhaps the later part of í20. And we had also a man by the name of Max Morris who was a very good teacher, and Professor Thomas. We called him Bunny Thomas, because he multiplied so fast. His real name was Charles F. Thomas.
Weiner:There was a man named Wallace in the physics department -- a very slim tall man.
Hutchisson:Yes, thatís right, we did have a man named Wallace. In fact, I think for a while he was Dayton Millerís assistant. No, he probably was an instructor. He may have been an assistant part of the time. There was another man who was Millerís assistant. I donít remember his name.
Weiner:I remember Wallace because when I was there he had retired or gone on leave and he inherited a million dollars.
Hutchisson:I understand he was very wealthy. His wife was quite wealthy.
Weiner:What happened further in your physics work? Did you have any chance to observe some of the research that Miller was doing? You mentioned his annual lecture on the phonodeik. Did he in any other way bring in the musical acoustics business?
Hutchisson:He probably did in some of these elementary lectures, but then when I became a physics major as a junior, his method was operating a class more as a seminar which he would lead. We had classes of five to seven people and he would sit in front of the group using a book to direct the discussion. I remember we used A. W. Woods book as a text in acoustics.
Weiner:R. W. Woodís.
Hutchisson:No, that was the optics man. This was the acoustics man. We did use R. W. Wood too in optics. Miller would just take the book and page through it and then he would tell something about each topic. I donít think he ever specifically prepared for the classes but he was interested in everything going on -- he knew the people, and he would talk about them. He didnít have too much respect for R. W. Wood. He felt he was a showman and he apparently stole the show quite often. This bothered Miller. I think Miller was Secretary of the American Physical Society, probably when we were junior and seniors, so he had quite a bit to do with the American Physical Society and he had lots of comments to make on various physicists who were important at that time. His lectures, or his classes, were very informal. As I said, I donít think he ever prepared anything, but he would come and sit with the book and then perhaps ask a class member to review a particular topic. He never paid any attention as to whether we were there or not. He never kept a roll. We knew that the grade at the end of the year would be 90 or 95 and was based on nothing except the interest we showed in the subject at hand. So he was not a taskmaster in the usual sense. Where he really gave us experience was when heíd tell us: ďNow, if youíre interested in demonstrating standing waves, you can hang a milk bottle from the diving board of the swimming pool and bounce it up and down to make standing waves and photograph them.Ē So we would go over to the swimming pool. We would take a different number of sources (bottles, weights, etc.) and make waves in the swimming pool and photograph them. After seeing the results, he would say: ďWell, you didnít do the best possible job. You had better do it over again.Ē He would never let us stop until we had really beautiful results. He would say, ďNow, it takes a lot of time to do something better than anybody else has done it. And unless you do it that way, there is no point in doing it.Ē And this was his philosophy all the time. He was a very skilful mechanic in his own right. The phonodeik had a tiny pivot on which the mirror was mounted which he himself machined. He designed it so that it had the minimum moment of inertia. It was the finest kind of jewelerís work and was a beautiful mechanical device. He liked mechanical things, and, of course, I liked mechanical things. And he was very much interested in photography and Case had wonderful photographic equipment which he bought. We took a lot of photographs of various experiments.
Weiner:You mean photographs of physical phenomena?
Hutchisson:Yes, of everything. Whenever weíd perform an experiment we would take a picture of it. He would encourage us in this. I suppose he suggested things to us but I remember we spent a long time determining the coefficient of expansion of metals and we set up very extensive equipment to do this. In the advanced laboratory there were no set experiments. You just tried to do something better than anybody else had done it, and this was the beginning of our training for research projects.
Weiner:I gather then that he was really the leading spirit in the physicsÖ
Hutchisson:He was really the only spirit. Hodgeman was there, but Hodgeman was the teacher of the elementary course and he was primarily interested in that and was very good at it. You may not remember -- Dayton Miller was the first one to use X-rays in this country. He saw them used in Europe and when he came back to Cleveland, he set up some X-ray equipment. He took a full-length X-ray picture of Charles Hodgeman. We used to see that picture hanging on the wall. I think he influenced the starting of the Crile Clinic, famous for its X-ray work.
Weiner:I think we have that picture in our archives.
Hutchisson:I wouldnít be surprised. It was a famous one at that time.
Weiner:How large a group of students was involved with Miller? Or letís put it this way: how large a group of physics majors was there?
Hutchisson:Well, in the class ahead of me there were two, and in my class, there were five, and that was the largest class in physics in the history of Case. Thus there were very small classes, and, of course, we got personal attention and also we were in the position where Miller knew us quite well and followed our careers. I have here as I mentioned several letters that Mi11er wrote to me after I had gone to MIT. He was very much interested in what I was doing and encouraged me to write, and heíd write me back two and three page letters of what he was doing. This was very unusual because I was just a graduate student and here he was quite a famous physicist.
Weiner:He must have been pretty easy to talk with.
Hutchisson:Yes, he was easy to talk with. We just took it for granted that he was readily accessible. However, he was very busy and I donít think we tried to disturb him unnecessarily.
Weiner:Did he do much with his flute collection at that time?
Hutchisson:He was recording sounds from pianos at that particular time, and he had a recording studio which was an acoustically highly insulated room. He had a grand piano there and he was trying to find out something about the piano sound waves. He often remarked that the piano sound was one of the most difficult to record because the variation in intensity is so great. You get a very large wave at the beginning which gradually dies out, making it quite difficult to record. At that time, of course, he also played at times in the Cleveland Symphony as a flutist, and he had such a large collection of flutes that whenever a particular piece needed a certain flute that they didnít have in the regular collection, he would supply it. He didnít play often but he played once in a while. He was very much interested, of course, in music. I remember at the time my mother had bought an Ampico player which could reproduce the exact force with which an artist would strike a key, thus providing a very good reproduction of an original playing by Paderewski or some other great artist. He was very interested in this piano and so we had a lot of conversations about it. He knew to the minute how long it took to play each piece. He seemed to know everything about anything musical.
Weiner:How did he get the flute collection started? Was this active at all while you were there?
Hutchisson:I think it was active but not in a systematic way. I think whenever he would visit a foreign country he would always stop and see if there were any unusual flutes available. In fact, in any city he would go to, he would look around for some special second-hand flutes that he could acquire.
Weiner:This would be woodwind instruments. I think it went beyond flutes.
Hutchisson:The major collection was flutes. He had hundreds of them as you know. These were the ones that were given to the Library of Congress.
Weiner:I think when they were given the total was close to a thousand. Iíve seen the catalogue of them.
Hutchisson:I think he was much more interested in the collection of flutes during Joe Valasekís time because at that time he would invite the students over to his apartment. He had flutes stored up like you would logs, all over the room. When I was a student, we never had any contacts at his home. I donít know particularly why this was. We met Mrs. Miller on occasion. But earlier, when Joe was there, he often used to have groups into his home in the evening.
Weiner:With big groups that gets to be a problem.
Hutchisson:Yes, when you get up to five. I just pulled out my bachelorís thesis. You know at that time Case required a bachelorís thesis. I donít know if you ever heard of Oscar Torreson. He was at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution. He and I were together in this class of five and we did a thesis together. We were overly ambitious -- we didnít know how little we knew -- and what we had become interested in, probably through Jason Nassau, was the measurement of close double-stars. Michelson had developed an interferometer which he added to a 40-inch telescope. He had a cover with two slits, and by moving the slits apart and watching the interference pattern he could measure the distance between close double-stars. Well, we didnít have a 40-inch telescope. We only had an 11-inch. So we thought it would be easy, since there were just two slits, to put the slits out on a beam and reflect the light into the center of the telescope and get an interference figure. So what we did was to design an instrument which would attach on the lens end of the telescope to bring the light in. You see, this was the telescope, and there is a mirror here and another to bring the light into the telescope on either side. There were many interesting mechanical things to make -- left and right-handed screws on the beam to move the mirrors apart, and we had gears for rotating the beam. We made patterns for each piece and did all the machine work ourselves.
Weiner:You did. The facilities at Case were that good.
Hutchisson:Oh yes, when I look at it now and see all the work that it must have taken to build this device. One trouble was that we didnít have good mirrors. We used -- and this was Millerís suggestion -- a big sheet of plate glass and cut it into squares hoping to find 3 or 4 pieces out of the large sheet that would be reasonably flat. We did find some that were reasonably flat. But the main trouble was that the whole equipment at the end of the telescope was too fragile and vibrated too much so that we never really got any good interference figures. I think from the point of view of what we accomplished that we didnít succeed very well. However, we had a lot of fun, a lot of experience in using tools and making drawings and working with a telescope, but not in accomplishing anything of great interest scientifically.
Weiner:The formal title is: ďThe Design and Construction of an Interferometer for the Measurement of Close Double StarsĒ and jointly submitted by you and Oscar William Torreson, 1923. And the person to whom you would have submitted it would be Miller, in this case?
Hutchisson:Yes, we were in the physics department although Jason Nassau helped us with it and we worked at the Observatory with it. It involved both departments.
Weiner:Here you specify that it was a 9-inch telescope. I believe that is the one that ended up at Western Reserve and then at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History where it is now in the Ralph Mueller Planetarium.
Hutchisson:Is that right? I think it was probably given by Brashear, but I donít remember.
Weiner:I think he did the original optics for it.
Hutchisson:Well, that was the thesis.
Weiner:And so you think Nassau had something to say about it too? Do you recall very much about any interaction with him?
Hutchisson:I had a lot of contact with him, yes. We used to see him a great deal. I had a lot of contact with him in his home and knew Mrs. Nassau. He really helped me a great deal. I remember we wanted to get Millerís mirrors that he had used in his ether drift experiments. Miller wouldnít allow it but Nassau was the one who asked Miller if we could have them. Miller very rightly said, ďThe world is waiting for the result of my experiments. I just canít run the risk of having someone borrow these mirrors.Ē I would have done the same thing in his position although we were disappointed at the time. We felt that if we had had better mirrors we could have made the interferometer work, but Iím not sure about it anymore because interferometers are so sensitive to small vibrations. I am afraid that we would have had trouble even at that.
Weiner:This is the problem that Michelson and Morley had. On the ether drift experiments of Miller, did you discuss them and were some of them in progress at the time?
Hutchisson:Oh yes, they were in progress, and he made trips to Mt. Wilson. I remember when I first saw one of his pictures taken on top of Mt. Wilson -- I saw the clouds down below the mountain top -- I was tremendously impressed. That was before the days of airplanes where you get used to looking at the tops of clouds. He was working with his ether-drift equipment then and after I had gone to MIT, he was still working on it, and some of his letters refer to his results. Although at that time -- maybe between our junior and senior year -- he had already performed many experiments and one of the things he warned us about was not to jump at conclusions, because he said that from his earlier measurements, he had gotten what he thought was a positive result and was ready to send out telegrams all over the world telling about it. But he thought he would check his measurements a little more and when he checked he found that there was a systematic error. He was very much chagrined, but on the other hand, very happy he hadnít sent out the telegrams.
Weiner:Was this a consuming interest of his?
Hutchisson:Yes, I think there is no doubt about that. While we were at Case H. A. Lorentz visited Dr. Miller. In fact, I have pictures of Lorentz visiting there with Miller. I think Einstein also came at one time. Iím not absolutely certain about that. I donít have pictures of that. But I remember Lorentz was there and they had many interesting discussions about relativity.
Weiner:Did you get any relativity in any of the courses?
Hutchisson:No, because he had no faith in relativity. You would be interested in one of the letters I have from Miller where he says he wasnít convinced, and he didnít think that physicists would ever be convinced, that he didnít believe nature could be described by relativistic equations. We probably studied some special relativity but very little, but with a sense that it was unreal so we were never greatly impressed by it.
Weiner:So you were very definitely under his influence there?
Weiner:You had no other counter input to that? There was no one else in the department Ė- say, Nassau -- who would take an opposing view?
Hutchisson:No, I think Nassau would probably have taken a broader view but he didnít really get into relativity at that time. We were mostly studying descriptive astronomy and so he didnít get into any relativistic equations. I donít think we had anything like calculation of orbits -- at least, nothing very complicated.
Weiner:Just a question about Nassau because of my personal interest in him. As you were starting out, then, he was relatively young and had just come from Syracuse, I guess. He had gotten his Ph.D. there the year before. Did he have much of an accent then? Iím curious because he had been raised in Asia Minor and Symrna.
It never occurred to me that he did, except that he spoke a little differently from the others. But I never had any trouble understanding him and, as far as I know, I donít think anyone else did, but undoubtedly he still had an accent. He really had it all his life. It was a characteristic voice rather than being an accent that kept you from understanding. He was an excellent teacher. I think Miller, in his unusual way, was one of the best, not in the sense of anything that he explained clearly but in the sense of his high insistence on doing things well. This was what he was always stressing. The teacher that we had who was the best expositor was the C. F. Thomas that I mentioned earlier, in calculus and mathematics generally. We used to say that he made things so clear that you never had any questions in class and you wouldnít realize that you didnít understand something until quite a good deal later. And because he made things so clear in class you didnít really think very much for yourself.
As I look back at it, I have decided that he was not one of our best teachers. He seemed at the time to be the best teacher at Case and think if the students had voted everybody would have voted him to be the best teacher. He was a wonderful expositor and he made things very clear. But, to my mind, this alone doesnít constitute good teaching. Good teaching is more; -- an inspiration to do things well -- and this is what we got from Miller who in the ordinary sense might have been said to be a poor teacher. That is one of the reasons why the physics classes were so small because many students didnít rate him as a good teacher at all. He could give his phonodeik lecture with a lot of enthusiasm but most of the time his lectures were pretty drab. We had a lot of other good teachers -- well, Jason Nassau was one -- who were reasonably clear on things, but Nassau also made you think for yourself. And this seems to me far more important than being merely a clear lecturer. I know in my later life I was never very much impressed with someone who was a good teacher just because he was a good lecturer. I have perhaps been prejudiced against some good teachers on that account.
Weiner:Well, when you got your degree in 1923, you had already made a decision apparently to go on to MIT. I want to know two things about it, because this already implies a different kind of career commitment than the one you started out with.
Hutchisson:Well, probably I wasnít quite clear in my senior year what I was going to do. My parents had never heard of anyone going beyond college and my father particularly wondered why in the world I wanted to go some place outside of Cleveland for education. In fact, I guess I had talked about going away to school some time before I graduated and he would have none of it. However, when I was getting near graduation, Western Electric Company and Bell Telephone people and other companies were visiting and I had interviews with them which encouraged me to go to graduate school. In fact, I had an offer from Western Electric. But through Millerís influence, I applied for a Charles A. Coffin Foundation Fellowship which had just been established at the beginning of that year.
Weiner:Yes, a GE Fellowship.
Hutchisson:Thatís right. Charles A. Coffin was a General Electric officer although General Electric itself didnít do the awarding. A special committee was set up; I guess Mr. Trench, who I think was the Secretary of the Committee, was at General Electric. My father had been paying my tuition at Case but for graduate work, I needed a fellowship. I was working summers, which, by the way, is part of the story. I worked at the National Carbon Company one summer while I was at Case. I worked in the laboratory where we were concerned with many technical matters including the measuring of the resistance of carbon for batteries. And then I worked at the Glass Technology Laboratories at Nela Park for several summers.
Weiner:Thatís GE too?
Hutchisson:Yes, they didnít stress the GE side. It was the National Electric Lamp Association and it was partly independent of GE. But in order to get a Coffin fellowship you had to have definite plans for graduate work and so I had to make some plans. And with the interest that I had developed from Miller in optics and in experimental things in general, I became interested in photo-elasticity. There was a man at MIT by the name of Paul Heymans who was doing photo-elastic work and I had seen some of his pretty designs and colors with polarized light. We had done a lot of experiments with polarized light at Case. So I suggested that that would be a good subject to study at MIT and in the application I indicated that. I never saw Millerís recommendation but I am sure he gave me an enthusiastic recommendation -- as he did for most of his students, because they were all good in his judgment. So I was one of the first five people awarded a Charles A. Coffin Foundation Fellowship. Thatís when I went to MIT. I remember at the time Bell Laboratories had offered me a job -- it was really Western Electric. When I told them I had the Fellowship, they said, ďThatís most important. You take the Fellowship, and when youíre finished come back to us and weíll be very happy to reconsider employment opportunities.Ē But I never did.
Weiner:What would you have done on that job if you had taken it? What had they specified would be your duties?
Hutchisson:I donít know that they ever did. I do have a letter which probably tells to some extent what it would be.
Weiner:Was it in research or development or both?
Hutchisson:Well, letís see, I can probably find out without too much digging. 1923 -- oh here it is.
Weiner:You have a lot of goodies there.
Hutchisson:Here it says: ďI am pleased to learn from the delegation of Bell System representatives who recently visited your institution of your interest in engineering work in the communication art, research activities in electronic physics and technical development investigation of communication systems. The salary would be $27 per week, to be increased to $30 per week at the end of the first six months, and $33 per week at the end of the second six months.Ē And so forth.
Weiner:You turned down such an attractive offer.
Hutchisson:To go on, ďIn urging your favorable consideration of this offer may I point out that our engineering work is creative in character and that it involves a minimum of routine repetition and that it affords each individual wide latitude for growth and self-expression and assures an agreeable and stimulating realm of work and association. We are entering upon a period of marked progress in communication. I confidentially believe you will do well to enter the field at this time.Ē
Weiner:A very persuasive letter, but not persuasive enough.
Hutchisson:Well, no, as I say, they agreed that it would be better for me to go on for a year of graduate work. I am sure they would have agreed also that it would better to go on for a doctorate. They emphasized the long view. I had a little trouble in getting approval from MIT to study there. It was kind of odd. Case wasnít very well known and I think the authorities of MIT felt that someone from out in the sticks like Case could hardly compare with their graduates and so they werenít ready to take me sight unseen. Fortunately, Miller knew Stratton quite well. You remember at that time Samuel Stratton was the President of MT?
Weiner:He used to be in Washington at the Patent Office.
Yes, Miller knew him quite well, so at his suggestion I wrote to Stratton. As I think of it now, it was kind of a silly thing to do, to write to the President of the institution as a graduate student, but I did. But, of course, he did answer the letter in a very kind way, and he turned it over to the admission people. Finally I heard. I guess Paul Heymans at the time was away. I do have a letter here from Paul Heymans who says he would be glad to have me working with him but heíd been away and the letter hadnít been forwarded. So I did go there, but I wasnít entirely happy at MIT, and Iím not sure just why except that it was my first time away from home, and MIT was not the most cordial place in the world. I must have felt quite lonely and out of touch with things. I donít have my letters to Miller but I have his replies, and from his replies I must have said I was disappointed. I also found that I wasnít as much interested in some of the applications of photo-elasticity as I thought I would be.
Heymans suggested another thesis subject for me which I finally took. He read a paper that Fermi had written on the rotation of the plane of polarized light passing through a rotating medium. When the medium rotates there is a small drag of the plane of polarization, and Fermi had developed a theory to explain the magnitude. It was the ordinary relativistic formula in which 1-v/c2 / (v/c)2 occurs so that for ordinary speeds of rotation the amount of rotation of the plane was not very much. But Heymans thought a test might be possible since in our work with polarized light we had very sensitive polarimeters -- we could measure rotations of the plane of polarized light down to about a second of arc (MIT had very good equipment in those days, particularly in classical fields) -- and so I took this test as a thesis subject. I built a tube which was long enough (some ten meters) and rotating fast enough so that by the time the light started at one end and got to the other end, the tube and presumably the air in it would turn through maybe ten seconds of arc, and since I could measure to a second of arc, I could tell how much rotation there was.
I would rotate the tube one way and then the other way. When you have a long tube like that rotating, even though you may have a lot of bearings on it, it has a tendency to whip and may make quite a bit of noise. The laboratory was down in the basement of MIT with mathematics classes above. Also, I used a gear on the motor and it did make a lot of noise. As you can imagine, I was not too popular among the instructors in the classes above. Iíd rotate the tube one way and then the other way, and try to measure the change in polarization. What I finally found was that there was no real measurable change that I was absolutely certain of, which, of course, indicated that Fermi was right, that you do have this essentially relativistic factor coming in. Hence the rotation of the plane of polarized light isnít equal to the rotation of the medium itself. That was my masterís thesis, done under Paul Heymans.
Weiner:It sounds very much in the tradition of your bachelorís thesis.
Hutchisson:Yes, it is. Again, it was a matter of using very precise equipment.
Weiner:I see that Fermiís paper was published February 4, 1923 in an Italian journal. How did you see it?
Hutchisson:Heymans was the one who saw it. But you know at one time I mentioned to Fermi that I had made this test and he was very much surprised. He said he thought that he had put this paper where no one could possibly find it. Iíve forgotten which journal it was. It wasnít a well-known Italian journal.
Weiner:Atti dellíAccademie nazionale dei Lincei. In later years people started looking at that.
Hutchisson:I donít think it was quite as unknown as he implied, but he was surprised to hear that anybody had ever read this paper.
Weiner:That was rather an early paper.
Hutchisson:Yes, that was why it was interesting to Paul Heymans. He was an interesting character. He came from a very important family in Belgium, and had quite an accent. He was interested in politics. He went back to Belgium in perhaps 1925 or 1926. He turned out to be a very important person there and I believe became Prime Minister. He was very ambitious and he worked hard. I enjoyed working with him. But he wasnít a real physicist in the usual sense -- he was good in photo-elasticity, but it was really engineering physics. In fact, at that time, (this was before Compton came to MIT) physics was mostly applied physics at MIT. Norton was chairman of the physics department and MITís relations with industry were important. It was close to engineering. In fact, maybe this is where became interested in applied physics. I took most of my theoretical courses with Manuel Vallarta; he was a lot of fun and a very interesting person. He was very young but also very able. He was an instructor, I believe. He was the one bright light in the field of physics at MIT at that time.
Weiner:Was he doing his cosmic ray work then?
Hutchisson:He was interested primarily in electrodynamics and I donít think he had started anything on cosmic rays at that time.
Weiner:You were there in 1923 through 1924. This was the time of the end of the old quantum theory. Did you get any of the old quantum theory?
Hutchisson:Iím sure we must have gotten some of the old, but most of what we had was classical physics. I remember we had Abrahamsís book on electricity and magnetism. In fact, in order to perfect my German I started translating it. I got a good bit of it translated but I never did anything with it. I think I also passed the French exam at that time for the masterís degree. Weíre not getting along very far.
Weiner:Donít worry about the time. This is all very interesting. When you got your masterís there, how large a group was there at the same level?
Hutchisson:I donít really remember. I guess there were six, seven, eight -- something like that.
Weiner:If their emphasis was on engineering applications or applied physics as it was known then, was it true that the other people who were on the masterís level would stop at that level and devote themselves to some of the more applied pursuits?
Hutchisson:No, I donít think so. In fact, it was my intention to go on for a doctorís degree. I guess one of the reasons I chose MIT was that they announced in the catalogue that you could get your doctorís degree in a minimum of two years. I wanted to get married so I was anxious to get it as soon as possible. That was one of the reasons why I went there. I probably wouldnít have gotten it in two years, although some did. I think most of the graduate students went on for the doctorís degree. A student who was there at the same time was was Ned Frank who was later the head of the department at MIT.
Weiner:Slater was head from 1930 to about 1952 or 1953.
Hutchisson:Frank must have followed Slater. Allis from MIT was there at the time too. When I was at MIT, Ed Kemble who was a Case graduate was at Harvard. Miller recommended that I go and visit Kemble, so I did, Thus, I became acquainted with the difference in atmosphere at Harvard and MIT and this was part of the reason why I felt as I did, I didnít care nearly as much for the atmosphere around MIT as I did for the little bit that I had observed at Harvard. This was another reason why I was apparently unhappy. Then also, IĎm sure I took far too much of a load. I was trying to get my degree in two years and took nine courses. I donít think I did very well in any of them.
Weiner:You were cut off right in the middle of a sentence.
Hutchisson:I think I was about to say that I decided to transfer to the University of Minnesota. Probably I was influenced in going to Minnesota from MIT by the fact that Joe Valasek was there. At least, Iíd heard a lot about it and I applied there. I donít know whether he exercised any particular influence on my behalf. I would guess he would disqualify himself. In any case, I did receive a graduate assistantship. As I remember it the Charles A. Coffin Fellowship paid more than the graduate assistantship but didnít include tuition or teaching experience. You know an interesting person at MIT at that time was W. S. Franklin. He used to eat his lunch in the basement of the physics building where I had my set-up for measuring the rotation of plane polarized light, and so he and I talked a good bit. When I told him I was going out to the University of Minnesota he was just horrified. Anybody going out in the sticks where the bears roam the streets to do graduate study he thought was just unheard of. In fact, I guess Miller thought somewhat the same way because I see from his letters he recommended that even if I didnít like it at MIT as well as I thought I might, I should stay there. But didnít. I went to the University of Minnesota and when I did go, I was very happy because the atmosphere was so completely different. There were a group of students interested in physics. They met together and talked together. Part of the reason was that I was on the staff. At MIT I was not on the staff. I had a Fellowship so I wasnít included in any group and was instead all by myself.
Weiner:And you had nothing to do at MIT but to take courses, almost in a classroom sense. I notice that at Minnesota you were a graduate student and teaching assistant. That is how Erikson listed you in his History.
Hutchisson:I was a graduate assistant but that included some elementary teaching and, of course, graduate work leading toward a degree.
Weiner:While we are talking about graduate work, since you had taken so many courses at MIT, did you have very many more to take at Minnesota?
Hutchisson:Minnesota had different requirements. I think MIT had more numerical requirements. You had to have so many hours. At the University of Minnesota you had to have merely certain general sequences of courses. I remember I was excused from John Tateís course in theoretical physics because of what I had had at MIT. And I have always been sorry that I was, because this was one of the best courses at Minnesota and I wish I had been forced to take it. But I wasnít. So I probably got into more advanced courses as a result of having a few extra ones at MIT and I did finish my doctorate in two more years, giving a three-year total instead of the two years that I had planned on originally. Probably because of the work that I had had at MIT. I still was able to finish in two years even though I was part-time instructor or graduate assistant. Thatís where I began working with J. H. Van Vleck. You see I was Van Vleckís first Ph.D. student. Of course, he was very helpful, and this was when the new quantum mechanics was just coming into being, and Van Vleck would eagerly read the latest issue of the Zeitschrift fur Physik to find out what was happening.
Weiner:He had just recently been writing something himself which was based on the old quantum theory.
Hutchisson:Yes. My thesis at Minnesota was written in two parts: one was on the specific heat of hydrogen, trying to explain the variation of the specific heat with temperature with the use of half quantum numbers because we didnít know enough about the new quantum mechanics at that time. The discrepancies which we got in the old classical theory or even the old quantum mechanical theory could be partially explained by the use of half quantum numbers. At Van Vleckís suggestion I was working in that field.
Weiner:One question about the background before we talk about the work: do you recall what you got as a graduate assistant?
Hutchisson:$600 a year.
Weiner:I was just testing you because I have it here. Erikson gave a breakdown of the department.
Hutchisson:Yes, $600, but it included free tuition. Actually, I was living there alone on that one year. The second year I also received $600 and Rose and I got married on that. We had saved up a little bit of money, but not too much, and I am sure we lived on not more than $1200 for the year, and lived very comfortably. We didnít know that we were poor.
Weiner:I wrote some notes down that in 1930 Lawrence and Oppenheimer estimated the costs for a graduate student in Berkeley. You could get a room for $12-15 a month and food would run about $1 a day. So that a $600 assistantship would have been adequate.
Hutchisson:I think there is no question but what for a single person $600 a year was adequate. I never felt I didnít have enough money. I donít think my parents ever helped with my graduate work at all. So what I could earn in the summer plus what I received at Minnesota, and the Fellowship at MIT, constituted the only funds I had. There was enough left in the second year at Minnesota to help support a wife. Rose undoubtedly had also saved up some money. She had been offered an assistantship too, but because of the rule that two people in the same family couldnít have a job in the University, one of us had to give it up.
Weiner:Where had she done her work?
Hutchisson:Western Reserve University where she graduated.
Weiner:What was her field?
Hutchisson:History. And she studied European history at Minnesota. She had been offered a fellowship as a graduate assistantship in the history department but, as I say, she couldnít take it. She did take graduate work in history.
Weiner:I notice on the faculty that there was an interesting group. We mentioned that John Tate was a professor there, then Henry Erikson who was Chairman, and Anthony Zeleny.
Hutchisson:Yes, Anthony Zeleny was a very interesting chap. Do you know about him at all?
Weiner:Bits and pieces only.
Hutchisson:He was far more interested in not having people smoke than he was in anything else. He would give a lecture every year in the physics class on the harmful effects of smoking and he would search out any puff of smoke. Tate liked to smoke in his office and Zeleny didnít quite feel like invading Tateís office, but you certainly couldnít smoke any place outside of that. I remember at seminars he was opposed to coffee and tea because they had too much stimulant. He would have a little milk and hot water. But he was a fine person, and a real gentleman. Also L. F. Miller was there. He taught two courses. And Joe Valasek. And, of course, Jay Buchta was there then.
Weiner:Gregory Breit was there at that time.
Hutchisson:He was not there when I was there. He had left just the year before.
Weiner:ďThe Erikson History of the Physics Department at MinnesotaĒ has him listed as being there in 1924-1925.
Hutchisson:He may have been on leave. Iím quite sure that he wasnít there at the time. Some of his students were there who had studied with him. He must have just left after that list was made out. I never knew Breit well. Iíve met him a couple of times but I never knew him well.
Weiner:But you certainly didnít have any contact with him there?
Hutchisson:No, and Iím quite sure I would have had some contact if he was still there.
Weiner:Maybe you should look at this list -- this is the staff for that year -- to see if it brings back any specific ideas.
Hutchisson:I know all these people fairly well. What was the date on that?
Weiner:1924-25. Your first year there. They have a break-down of courses too. What were the courses that you took? You mentioned that you did not take Tateís theoretical course.
Hutchisson:No, I think I must have taken a course in optics, and probably acoustics. And I took a course from Van Vleck in Advanced Analytical Mechanics. Possibly thermodynamics, Iíve forgotten. Possibly one from Erikson on radioactivity. I wouldnít be surprised if I took that although I donít remember very well.
Weiner:How would you say you divided your time there, given your teaching responsibilities which I would like to know a little about too, and your course work and then your research?
We had to teach, as I remember, six hours a week. Our load would consist of three two-hour laboratory classes that we would assist in, and then probably a one one-hour meeting or weíd sit in a lecture or something of this kind. I remember Anthony Zeleny was in charge of the graduate assistants and he would come and sit in on laboratory classes. We would often have, say, a half-hour talk before the laboratory started, and he would sit in on this and criticize what we were doing. I remember it used to make me quite nervous to have him show up when he was unexpected. But the work was hardly enough to interfere with graduate study. I just never thought of it as interfering. We did have to grade papers and minor tasks of this kind. We had an office about as big as this room -- there were five of us in that office and we were all doing the same kinds of things -- we were there every night close to midnight. It didnít seem hard at all.
I donít think we ever felt that we were imposed upon. And actually since Iím sure all of us needed a refreshing in our elementary physics, the work was good for us. As far as I was concerned I thought I was carrying a full-time graduate load, and I think all the other graduate assistants were in the same boat. I would say it was an ideal way of operating a graduate department. I think we were much better off in those days than later when you had big salaries. Here there were maybe one or two of the graduate assistants who were married but most of them were unmarried and as a result they just spent all of their time either studying or going out together in one way or another. It was a very friendly group and we would always teach each other by talking about things. I would say this was as about an ideal a situation for graduate work at no expense to yourself that you could possibly have. Your duties were not onerous. I remember we also had to proctor exams but this was not difficult.
Weiner:Did you have any regular department meetings or journal clubs?
Hutchisson:Yes, we had a meeting once a week -- a colloquium, they used to call it -- I remember on Wednesday afternoons around four oíclock. Everybody was expected to be there. You would be under severe censure if you didnít appear. I remember Van Vleck on ordinary afternoons would take a nap sometime late in the afternoon. Of course, when he came to these seminars and would hear somewhat of a dry talk, he would nod off. And then heíd wake up with sort of a start and ask one of the most relevant questions that was being asked. He always took in things very quickly. He was always courteous and pleasant. You never knew Erikson? He was a real gentleman. Of course, so were Anthony Zeleny and Miller and Tate, but I think Erikson set the style for what you might call a gracious colloquium operation. We had tea and cakes as well as stimulating talk. It was a very friendly and helpful group all the way around.
Weiner:Did the colloquium involve outside speakers?
Hutchisson:To some extent, although oftentimes it was reports by people on their own work. The graduate students would report on their work. Tate or Van Vleck would report on something that was in the journals, and if there was some distinguished visitor, of course he was asked to report. It was a serious attempt to help people to keep up to date and did very well, I think.
Weiner:Did Van Vleck show a great deal of power then in terms of his later prominence?
Hutchisson:It is kind of hard to define what you mean by power.
Weiner:I donít mean it in a personal sense but was it clear thatÖ
It was clear that he knew a great deal about any theoretical subject. He disliked experimental work. He had little patience in even looking at anybodyís experimental equipment. So he would seldom go in the laboratory but he was certainly the most alert one as far as any theoretical activities were concerned. He read all the journals and worked awfully hard and long. He would work every day and set a pace for the rest of the group that was inspiring at least. He also was a very kind person. He always had time for students. He would come to student parties. He felt a great sense of responsibility as far as the students were concerned. He had one very strong interest -- you have heard about his stories with the railroad? We had a graduate class. He would be coming from where he lived which was close by, but in order to come to the class he went over a bridge, and under that bridge the railroad train would run. If the railroad train was late our class was late because he would have to check to see if that train was on time every day. We would get a new graduate assistant and he would say, ďWhere are you from?Ē ďIím from Ripon, Wisconsin.Ē ďOh, yes, the so-and-so train. Youíve three of them, donít you? One gets in at 9:13, another at 10:27,Ē and so on. He knew all the railroad schedules by heart. He used to tell me though that someone had asked him one time, ďWouldnít you like to be a train dispatcher?Ē -- and he said, no, it wouldnít work because if somebody asked him when a train got in to some obscure little town he would say 9:58 without looking or checking and nobody would believe him.
He just knew too much. He told me one time that he used to like to read time tables as other people read novels, so that when he would go on a trip he would always carry a bunch of time tables with him and read them. I remember when I was finishing up my thesis, he was in France and he wrote me. When he sent the thesis back to me he put down a complete schedule of every train it was to catch until it got to the boat, and what boat it was to catch, and what train it was to get in New York, and so forth on to me. The postal authorities didnít follow his directions so it got there a little bit late, but he had it all worked out. He was a lot of fun and we enjoyed him a great deal. He was interested in everything that the students were interested in. I think he was very helpful in the department although I didnít really realize this at the time. But Iím sure he would discuss things with Tate and Iím sure with Joe Valasek too. Joe was working on optics work at that time primarily and Iím sure they had a lot of interesting things to discuss together. Although he was always busy, he never seemed to be in a hurry. He always had all the time in the world, yet he was quite a taskmaster -- he set very high standards in his class. You had to really follow what was going on. He didnít throw you out but he would show such surprise if you didnít know something that you didnít feel like coming back unless you knew the lesson.
Weiner:Thereís another thought I have had about that. When you mentioned Tate, I remembered that he was the editor of Physical Review.
Hutchisson:Yes, he was the editor at that time.
Weiner:And so that meant that the office of the journal was at Minnesota. Did you come in contact with that in any way?
Hutchisson:I would imagine that he probably used Van Vleck as a referee and probably Joe Valasek for some. Erikson, possibly. Miller was interested primarily in heat but mostly on an undergraduate level. I doubt that things would be referred to him very much. But I donít think there was any overburdening of local people with refereeing. At least I never got that impression. Iím sure he must have sent most of them out.
Weiner:I was curious, because of your later interests where you became a journal editor, whether you had had any prior experience because of that proximity.
Hutchisson:No, I donít think so. It was only that I knew Tate well, and when the Journal of Applied Physics got started, the fact that I knew Tate well and the fact that the journal that he had been editing, which was called Physics, was used as a background or a starting point for the Journal of Applied Physics. The fact that I knew him helped out and we had great confidence in each other.
Weiner:Well, getting on to the doctoral dissertation: how did the problem come up? How did you decide that this was what you wanted to do?
Hutchisson:I think it came up primarily as Van Vleckís suggestion. He just said, ďHere is a good problem to work on,Ē and I got started. It is rather interesting that at Minnesota I never did any experimental work whatever. I guess it was because I was in a hurry and I thought I could get along faster in theoretical physics than I could in experimental physics. In fact, I had heard many of the boys who had difficulty with glass-blowing and things of this kind so I shied away from experimental research. It was rather strange because I had been so much interested in it earlier, and Iím not sure that this wasnít a mistake. I donít think I was ever really made out to be a theoretical physicist although I did my doctoral thesis that way and spent the first years of my research activity on theoretical physics. They were mostly computational matters that I got involved in in my doctorís thesis. It had, as I said, two parts: one was the specific heat of hydrogen (there was a lot of calculation in that), and then the other was the calculation of the energy of the crossed orbit model of the hydrogen molecule (and that involved a tremendous amount of calculation). So that I spent a lot of time in just calculating.
Weiner:Without a machine?
Hutchisson:With a hand operated Monroe calculator.
Weiner:As far as the theory that was involved, this was old quantum theory. Was it known by that time that this didnít pan out or was this just the transition?
Hutchisson:I think it was partly a matter of proving that we couldnít get the right answers by the old, and the new quantum mechanics was just coming in at the time, and I donít think that as students any of us knew enough about it to solve any original problems.
Weiner:By 1928 you began treating molecules using the new quantum theory.
Weiner:But I guess your dissertation would have been underway. I meant to ask also: how long was it before you started the dissertation work?
Hutchisson:I think almost right away.
Hutchisson:Yes, in the first month or so. I spent the first part of the time on the specific heat of hydrogen, and the other problem came up, I imagine, because Van Vleck felt the first one wasnít enough for a doctorís thesis so he suggested I do something more and thatís how I got involved in the second problem. However, we did have courses in wave mechanics at the time. Sommerfeldís book was out.
Weiner:Who would have taught that? Tate?
Hutchisson:No, Van Vleck. Do you have the second year there? [In Eriksonís history] Or just 1924?
Weiner:Letís see. Here is 1924, and a summer session of 1925.
Hutchisson:I wasnít there in the summer.
Weiner:Buchta got his Ph.D. that summer.
Hutchisson:I remember. He took his exams while I was finishing my first year. You see the first year I went to Minnesota I roomed with the Buchtas. But the second year I would think that the course was something named ďwave mechanicsĒ or ďquantum mechanics.Ē
Weiner:Van Vleck with Buchta had Atomic Structure and Quantum Theory and Atomic Structure.
Hutchisson:I doubt that Buchta had very much to do with it, because Jay was not a theoretically inclined person. I think he did his doctorate under Tate if I remember correctly.
Weiner:Yes, his adviser was Tate and the thesis was ďA low voltage electron beam oscillograph.Ē
Hutchisson:Jay was quite a good instrumentalist and an excellent teacher. He operated a good many of the undergraduate classes, laboratories and things like that. I donít think he was ever in theoretical physics, and later he got into administrative work.
Weiner:But you were saying that you did get wave mechanics then, and the course was probably the one which I read off by Van Vleck?
Weiner:So, anyway, when you were working on it with the calculations, how often did you confer with Van Vleck? Was this a pretty open thing when you would run into a problem?
Hutchisson:It was essentially daily. There was no set time. I had enough work to do so that could do it and if I ever got into any question at all, he was always available. He would come over to our house in the evening and sit around and talk. He had an apartment which was right next door to the Buchtas. We used to see people quite often. It was a small community. There was never any question of not having plenty of time with him.
Weiner:I notice in that second year there were some new people in the department. Bleakney.
Hutchisson:Yes, Walker Bleakney came that second year.
Weiner:He is listed here as Walter, rather than Walker. I know Walker is his name. It is a slip-up -- this was written many years later. And then Hill came that year too, who later worked with Tate, I guess, on Physical Review.
Hutchisson:Yes, Hill was a theoretical man. He was, I guess, one of Van Vleckís students. Others were Arthur Ahearn who later worked at the Bell Labs, L. R. Maxwell, and Ed Jones.
Weiner:I guess we should move on to the next institution. Sometime in 1926 you must have been really facing a problem. You were married and you had a degree.
Hutchisson:I had to get a job. Thatís right.
Weiner:Had you given up the thought of Western Electric?
Hutchisson:Yes, and Iím not quite sure why. It probably was the influence of people at Minnesota that you naturally went on into academic work -- you didnít think about industrial work -- because for some reason or other I never even thought about it again. I remember I had four possible jobs when I was graduating. One was not really possible but it was an open job at the University of Wisconsin. They were looking for somebody in X-ray work. I had had no experience in X-ray work but that was Van Vleckís home and he was awfully anxious for me to go there. He recommended me but they did want someone who had had experience with X-rays and I hadnít had it. Then there was a job at Walla Walla, Washington, at Whitman College.
Weiner:Didnít Bleakney come from there?
Hutchisson:He may have. The Brode brothers came from there. It was a very nice school. I never really looked into the job too much. Iím not even sure it got as far as a job offer but it was at least one that I was considering. Then there was an offer at Lubbock, Texas, at Texas Technological College. Of course, salaries at this time were not very high and they offered a salary of $2700 which was phenomenal and an assistant professorship. That was also quite phenomenal for someone just getting a Ph.D. in those days. And the only difficulty was that they said they had a two-year budget. They were quite sure that the Legislature would approve the budget and that there would be funds for next year but even if the Legislature didnít approve it, the neighbors would always be helpful in giving potatoes and other food. So that it sounded a little bit precarious. I had another offer as an instructor at the University of Pittsburgh at $1800, or was it $2000. I decided that a bird in hand was a little better and the University of Pittsburgh had a better reputation, and Iím sure Tate recommended me for that. I am just glancing at a letter I had written to Tate. He had apparently been at a Physical Society meeting and I had asked him to inquire for me. Iíd been trying to get a fellowship for some post-graduate work and I had written him and asked him to telegraph back when the announcements would be made. He did telegraph me back and say that the awards would not be made for some time yet and that he had talked to Worthing who was at Pittsburgh. He sort of recommended the Pittsburgh job so I took it.
Weiner:What kind of a post-doctoral had you applied for? An NRC fellowship?
Hutchisson:Yes, I guess an NRC and a Sterling Fellowship at Yale although I donít really remember any details about it. I took the Pittsburgh job.
Weiner:What was your teaching load there? Do you remember?
Hutchisson:That was one of the things I had asked Tate to look into and he said it would be 15 hours and that they would allow me to teach some graduate work. It turned out that it was about 15 hours but it didnít seem an overload at the time. I think I had time to do almost everything that I wanted to do. At that time I think one graduate course was counted as a six-hour load. Probably that is what Van Vleck had at Minnesota -- it was about six hours -- but he really worked awfully hard at what he was doing. He was exceptionally conscientious about his graduate classes.
Weiner:Your classes at Pittsburgh were primarily undergraduate at first?
Hutchisson:I think I taught one graduate class, but I donít remember what it was. It may have been theoretical mechanics or something of this kind because I had just finished my thesis with a lot of mathematical theory involved in it. It may also have been something to do with the atomic structure field -- I just donít remember. I did teach courses in atomic structure later. Being a student of Dayton C. Miller the department thought I knew something about acoustics so I began teaching acoustics. But we didnít have a very extensive graduate department at Pittsburgh. It was just beginning to be developed. It was reasonably good, but not exceptional. Carnegie Tech had graduate work also. We used to have joint colloquia with Carnegie Tech. We had a nice group and I enjoyed being there, but I donít think it was nearly as high-powered as what youíd find at a place like Harvard or Yale or Princeton.
Weiner:How would you characterize the research interests there of different people?
Hutchisson:Worthing, of course, was interested in temperature measurements and things related to temperature measurements. That was his field. We had a young man, J. J. Weigel, and he was theoretically inclined and did a lot of work in -- not exactly electronics but in photo-electricity. He later turned to biology and went to Caltech as a biophysicist. He came originally from the University of Geneva. Let me see -- who else did we have? We had Ozwald Blackwood who was primarily a devoted teacher and W. N. St. Peter who was an optics man but didnít do much in the way of research. So I didnít have very much going on in the way of research at Pittsburgh. I think Worthing was the one most interested in research. He was trying to build up research in the department but the University of Pittsburgh was not very wealthy and so he had a hard time.
Weiner:Were the undergraduates that you taught there physics majors or engineering majors or just taking a required course?
Hutchisson:We had a large number of pre-medical students and pre-engineering students. Then we had also a fair number of majors in physics, but not too many. It wasnít a large department. We had graduate assistantships, altogether about a dozen, and they formed the graduate school.
Weiner:Was there much of a journal club kind of activity there?
Hutchisson:Reasonable, yes, we tried to develop it. One of the jobs that I had, I think, was to try to develop that. The fact that we combined with Carnegie Tech helped, particularly after Otto Stern came to Carnegie Tech.
Weiner:That was about 1933, wasnít it?
Hutchisson:Was it that late? I donít remember just when.
Weiner:Yes, it was 1933, because Frisch was still in his lab that year and he left at the same time.
Hutchisson:Yes, well, you see, I went to Pittsburgh in 1926. In Ď29 I took the year off and thatís when I went to work with SchrŲdinger in Berlin. I ran across an interesting letter from SchrŲdinger that I would like to put in your files. I had a hard time getting in touch with him. He didnít reply as promptly as I had hoped that he would, and again, I had to have his permission to work with him. At the time I went abroad I had funds, partly from the University. What they did was to employ someone to do your job at a lower salary and then give you the difference between your salary and the other one. And I had saved up some money, so these two together was enough to provide for a year in Germany.
Weiner:It was all right with them to take a yearís leave so soon after you started?
Hutchisson:Yes, they were awfully good to me there. I know the first year after I was there they gave me a magnificent raise of $500, which was 25%, and they made me an assistant professor. They were very generous and when I said Iíd like to go abroad, Worthing, at least, encouraged it. Maybe I have misplaced the letter from SchrŲdinger. I thought youíd be interested in it. It had some comments on the situation in Berlin at the time which SchrŲdinger added to the letter. Here it is. He said that he was travelling at the time my letter was sent and so he didnít have a chance to answer me. He said that heíd be glad to accept me as a research student. Then he adds a postscript: ďFor your private information I should like to add that the University of Berlin in the present moment does not yield to a student in theoretical physics all the comfort and facility which I should like to give and one which one might expect of the first University of Germany. The Institute consists of one library roomĒ and so on.
Weiner:Is this the actual letter? It is a pity that it is unsigned. Did you notice that there is no signature on it.
Hutchisson:Thatís right, I hadnít noticed that.
Weiner:Iím sure it is genuine. That is very interesting because this was characteristic there. While some tremendously gifted people were teaching there, the opportunities and the facilities were very limited.
Hutchisson:Iím sure this is his handwriting, I must have his signature on other things.
Weiner:All it took was to write to him to tell him who you were and that you wanted to work with him, and there was not a question of funds? He told you about the space -- whatever there was, you could share. Did you have a recommendation from one of your professors?
Hutchisson:I probably did. I had published one or two papers by that time. Maybe had a letter from Van Vleck, I donít remember.
Weiner:You had three papers by that time. By the way, one of the papers, ďMolecular Heat and Entropy of Hydrogen Chloride Calculated from Band Spectra Data,Ē was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Why there? Did you feel at the time that it was not straight physics?
Hutchisson:Was that joint with somebody else?
Hutchisson:I worked closely with a chemist at the University of Pittsburgh and may have been influenced that way. Thatís the only reason I can guess. I had told SchrŲdinger that I was interested in working on the intensities of band spectra and calculating the intensities and thatís what I did when I was over there. It turned out that it was quite valuable to have had a year abroad but not from the point of view of what I learned in physics. It was good to have the experience but I found that SchrŲdinger came to the University and lectured and then went home. And if wanted to see him, I would have to go to his home. I did that a couple of times. He was always very gracious when I went there but I never felt that I got any particular encouragement from him. Heíd answer questions. He spoke good English so there was no problem with English. Heíd undoubtedly serve me tea or something of that kind but it was not the kind of an interchange Iíd had with Van Vleck at all. So I was in a way disappointed. I was wishing later that I had gone to Munich because Iím sure Sommerfeld had set up a quite different arrangement there with students. He was in the midst of students all the time and a friend of mine, Ed Condon, had gone there. I think it would have been better.
Weiner:Had you known Ed Condon prior to that time?
Hutchisson:I donít think so. I probably met Ed later. I donít remember when I first met him.
Weiner:He got back, I think, in 1928. How many other students were involved with SchrŲdinger? And of those how many were visitors like yourself?
Hutchisson:There were very few, actually. There may have been 20 or so people attending the courses, but as far as I know, none of them was working with SchrŲdinger. He was a lone worker. You see the other man who was there at the time was Fritz London, and I think he was working at the library all the time. He had many more students than SchrŲdinger. SchrŲdinger stood apart.
Weiner:What were the kinds of courses that he did give? What were the lectures he delivered on?
Hutchisson:They were probably on quantum mechanics or something of this kind, I just donít remember.
Weiner:Did you take notes? You could dig those out.
Hutchisson:I donít have any notes on those, none that Iíve kept at least.
Weiner:How did you get by in the German?
Hutchisson:Not too well. Iím never very good at languages. Rose was good at languages and she was so good that she took over whenever it was needed and as a result I didnít get very much experience. But we lived with a German lady and we had a small living room and bedroom attached. She had a living room and bedroom attached, and we shared the kitchen and the bathroom. So Rose and the landlady would prepare meals together and do a lot of talking. She was very helpful in many ways. She was a very kind person. We spent the summer in Heidelberg just taking courses in German but I never did get very proficient in German. I could order a meal but wasnít much good in listening to courses.
Weiner:Did many visitors come to work with SchrŲdinger? I donít mean students but I mean his colleagues. It wasnít a question of people coming in and out, like Heisenberg and Pauli?
Hutchisson:Well, if they did, I didnít know about it. At the seminars they would undoubtedly have ... I donít remember Heisenberg but I remember Einstein spoke from time to time, and others. I have a feeling that the atmosphere in Berlin was not one that would encourage graduate study as much as I had anticipated that it would. It was nothing like the atmosphere that developed, from what I have heard, at Munich with Sommerfeld.
Weiner:Did you get any impression of what was on SchrŲdingerís mind that year?
Hutchisson:Not that I remember. I think he was interested at the time in his correspondence principle, but I really got very little from Schrodinger, IĎm sorry to say
Weiner:But you thought the year was a good refreshing one?
Hutchisson:Yes, it was a good year and it gave me a chance to get away from other duties. The problem that I had with the intensities of band spectra was one that I enjoyed.
Weiner:I notice that there is a publication on that in 1930 and in 1931. I gather that was based on the work you had done that year.
Hutchisson:Thatís right. Yes, I had considered publishing in a German journal, but I remember Schrodinger suggested that it would ďdo your career more good if you publish in an American journal,Ē so he recommended against a German journal. I do have one or two things that I have written out in German. One thing that made me mad at that time Ö when I was at Pittsburgh, I had gotten interested, as I mentioned, in acoustics and I had found that we could make standing waves with cork dust and other kinds of powders in tubes that were being operated by a loud speaker. There were striations in these Kundt dust figures which were really quite beautiful and I had some very fine pictures of them. I intended to work on this when I got back. And when I got there, an issue of Nature came out. That issue had a little article on dust figures. I wrote a letter to Nature saying that I had also done this work and sent them some of the pictures that I had. I got back the most scathing letter from this fellow telling me that if I would ever publish my results he would see to it that I would be ridiculed. I donít know whether have the letter or not.
Weiner:What was the point of that?
Hutchisson:He was afraid I was trying to steal some credit from him. It just didnít occur to me. I thought that I would contribute to what he had done in a way, but that wasnít his idea at all. And, as I say, the thing really made me so mad, but I didnít know what to do about it. I didnít do anything about it, actually, until later, I published an article in the Physical Review. I had done a lot of work on it before I went to Berlin. Anyway, that was one experience where I learned that physicists were not as disinterested in their own reputation as I thought they were.
Weiner:It would be interesting to find that letter. This seems to mark somewhat of a new turn in your interests to a sort of pedagogical vein.
Hutchisson:Yes, of course I was teaching at the University of Pittsburgh where the primary emphasis was on pedagogy. I couldnít resist getting into experimental things so I began developing teaching equipment of various kinds along with O. H. Blackwood. One thing that I developed was a device for measuring a lift of airplane wings of different designs. The Central Scientific Company was sufficiently interested so that they started making it and paid me a royalty for 10-15 years, not very much to be sure. I developed a lot of different bits of teaching equipment.
Weiner:I notice the airplane experiment was the article In the Review of Scientific Instruments.
Weiner:I would like you to characterize this period, prior to what I consider another twist and that is the involvement with AIP and the Journal. It is a period of about six years after you returned from Germany.
Hutchisson:After I returned, I think I really began to realize that I was not ever going to be a top-notch research physicist, and I was interested in the teaching, and then I was interested in trying to build up the physics department at Pittsburgh. I recognized that Pittsburgh was in a steel community where there were a lot of applications of physics and that if we were ever going to get industrial support for the physics department at Pitt, weíd have to develop an interest in this. And so I began visiting a lot of the nearby laboratories. Westinghouse was there, Union Switch and Signal, Gulf Research, etc. I had written a paper with Morris Muskat of the Gulf Laboratory. He and I used to see a lot of each other.
Weiner:Here is one on ďQuantum Mechanics of Lithium HydrideĒ with Muskat in 1932, and another one in 1937.
Hutchisson:We did begin to develop a lot of contacts with Westinghouse people and with the Gulf Research people. And so one of the ways it appeared to me that we might develop physics at Pittsburgh was through the help of these friends from industry. I knew that the department was pretty poor and that John G. Bowman who was President of Pitt at the time was an English scholar and wasnít greatly interested in science (in fact, one time when I was talking to him I told him we needed a cyclotron. He transmitted the message to the Chairman of the Board of Trustees who essentially said: ďWell, if they want an electron microscope, Iíll buy them one.Ē So he got an electron microscope for us, and thus we got a very good electron microscope but no cyclotron.)
Weiner:You lost something in the translation.
Hutchisson:But I decided we ought to try to capture the attention of the industrialists as to the application of physics, partly to get their support. So I organized a conference on industrial physics and I think it was probably one of the first conferences in this country on industrial physics.
Weiner:This was not an AIP conference, but an independent one?
Hutchisson:This was the University of Pittsburgh. I set it up. [Change of cassettes] One of the things that surprises me in rereading this now -- the report that I wrote on this conference in the R. S. I., apparently the conference was in November 1935 and this was published in December, 1935 -- is that 400 people came to this conference. That was a pretty big conference for just a single university with a small physics department. We got really a lot of people from industry.
Probably, yes. One of the things that pointed out here was that only 25 or 27 of them were members of the American Physical Society, which indicated that there were a large number of people interested in physics who were not members of the American Physical Society. And this was partly because the American Physical Society had little interest in physics in industry or applied physics Harry Barton came to this meeting and see Barton gave an introductory talk. Paul Foote was Director of the Gulf Laboratory and Foote was very much interested in applied physics and thought the conference was the kind of thing that should be done to draw attention to the applications of physics George Pegram either came or heard about it. I donít know whether he was there or not, but think it was a result of that conference that became acquainted with the AIP. The Institute was going to put on a Fifth Anniversary program in 1936 and they needed some help. Since apparently I knew something about putting on conferences they asked me if would come and help Barton put on this conference.
The general theme was to be on applied physics Ė- applications of physics in industry and medicine. Presumably because of what I had been doing in Pittsburgh, Pegram came to Pittsburgh and interviewed me and apparently was satisfied I wasnít too bad and so they invited me to the American Institute of Physics for a year as Assistant Director. I was given another years leave of absence and accepted. That is how I first got involved with the American Institute of Physics. It was decided that there was to be a journal started on applications and so was invited then to organize the Journal of Applied Physics. The first paper in the new Journal of Applied Physics centered around and were to come from this fifth anniversary conference of the Institute. And so that was how became involved in the Journal of Applied Physics. But I think if you look at my career you will see that I was gradually getting away from research and into promotion and organization, and really spent most of the rest of my career on organizing things and getting things going. I apparently was far better as an organizer than I was as a research physicist. You can get information, programs and so forth on the Fifth Anniversary meeting. I think it was quite a reasonable success. Everybody was happy about it. The societies were small enough at that time that we could have the five societies that made up the AIP meet together, and they did. Det Bronk took part in it and he was quite interested in what was being developed.
Weiner:I want to ask a question in connection with the Fifth Anniversary meeting and with the concern with applied physics as to how widely felt was this desire to relate physics more to industry, and secondly, what was the motivation behind it? You certainly told me that your motivation in Pittsburgh was to bring support to a department that needed it by relating it to its immediate environment.
I think probably also there was a feeling of physicists in industry that they were being neglected by the societies. This feeling was transmitted to me by the physicists that I knew in industry and then there was a certain amount of general talk. People like Foote felt it rather keenly and L. O. Grondahl who was at the Union Switch and Signal. So I was encouraged to spend my time promoting applied physics. I think Tate felt the same way. Pegram probably did too. I think Pegram looked at it rather broadly, but he probably was influenced by the many academic people in the councils of the Physical Society. But Pegram was much of an engineer himself and Iím sure he appreciated there were a lot of good physicists in industry. But I guess really it was the fact that the Fifth Anniversary meeting was on applications and the many talks on applied physics that aroused a lot of interest. And then when the Journal of Applied Physics started it was an immediate success. I think for the first issue we had 2000 subscriptions even though the original journal Physics had only something like 800. And then also we got a good response from reputable academic physicists.
I remember Bert Warren at MIT, an x-ray man, was quite critical of the starting of the Journal of Applied Physics. He thought it just couldnít amount to anything. I remember I talked to him and suggested he write a paper or two for us to bring it to the level that he thought it should be. He did, and pretty soon he became one of our strongest supporters. And I think physicists pretty generally felt that way. We tried to keep the level high. We did introduce some things which were a little bit foreign to physics journals. I insisted we should have advertising because it seemed to me as if physicists in industry were interested in ads about as much as they were in some of the content of the papers in the Journal. I felt too that we should try to give a dramatic appearance to the journal, so I began introducing photographs on the cover. This, I think, had not been done before. But again, what this shows is my entrepreneur spirit, which is apparently what I was interested in doing. We also went after and received a lot of review articles in those early issues.
Weiner:By some important people too.
Hutchisson:Yes, they were quite willing to contribute.
Weiner:Getting back to my other question, I had in mind something else too. Was there some motivation here -- as you said, in Pittsburgh, the motivation was that it would increase the support of physics. Well, there are several ways of doing this. One is to give money for someoneís academic research; another is to provide jobs. Was there something particularly in mind as far as providing employment opportunities for physicists?
Hutchisson:No, I donít think so -- I didnít think of this particularly. But it was true that at that time, many physicists who went into industry immediately became engineers -- they were called engineers -- and the physicists in industry resented this. But I think my feeling was that since the University of Pittsburgh got its support from industry, that if we were to expect support for the physics department we would have to relate the physics interest with industry. It was partly my own interest too because being of a mechanical mind and being interested in laboratory equipment and things of that kind, I tended to form friendships with physicists in industry more than I did with academic ones -- this is as far as I can develop the rationale at this time.
Weiner:But the AIP rationale in having as their Fifth Anniversary theme, the application of physics to industry, seems to me on a different basis.
Hutchisson:But this was also partly a matter of support because they were having difficulty getting support for their journals and Harry Barton was interested in developing the Corporate Associates to help support the Institute. I think there was a strong feeling -- and, as you say, it must have been national more than local, that the physicists in industry had been neglected by the societies and that ďsociety physicsĒ was so pure that many of the applications which were really physics applications were called engineering. Many people felt this was a loss to physics. So that there were these two views, and apparently there were enough people interested in the possibility of developing some relationship with applied physics. I donít remember if I suggested or who suggested the theme for the Fifth Anniversary celebrations. Iím sure I was sympathetic with it and I undoubtedly talked to Harry about it. And another active person was Mervin Kelly at the Bell Telephone Laboratories. The Institute had set up what was called a Council on Applied Physics and Mervin Kelly was very much interested in that. In fact, Iím sure that it was because of his interest and Paul Footeís that they were willing to put so much emphasis on applied physics.
Weiner:I see that in your second editorial (Vol. 8, No. 2, Feb. 1937), you said that: ďThose most responsible for the recasting of the journal Physics were Dr. M. J. Kelly, chairman of the Committee on Applied Physics of the American Physical Society, Dr. J. T. Tate, chairman of the Governing Board of the American Institute of Physics, who was editor of Physics.Ē The point here is that: ďÖthe new journal is the first step in a broad program to give further recognition to applied physics, which is being carried out by the Institute with the aid of its Advisory Council and also by the American Physical Society.Ē So it is the beginning of an entire program as you point out.
Hutchisson:I think, at that time, with Pegram closely associated with the Institute, and Tate, there was, of course, no competition between the American Physical Society and the American Institute of Physics. I believe the officers of the American Physical Society felt that since they were primarily academic that applied physics was not what the Physical Society itself would spend very much attention on, but if the institute would do it, why this would be a good way of doing it. I think this was the philosophy back of Jack Tateís idea that if the AIP was going to develop a new journal it would be well for the APS to turn over to AIP the journal Physics to start with because the journal Physics was the one which was devoted to more general areas of classical physics, rather than the more fundamental particle physics which the American Physical Society seemed most interested in.
Weiner:Did you keep any statistics at the time of the number of physicists in industry -- any independent kind of surveys that you would make, either through the Institute or as head of the journal?
Hutchisson:No, the AIP probably did, but I donít think I did.
Weiner:There really isnít too much on this. NRC had some kind of surveys but they are general and they sort of lump together several fields of science.
Hutchisson:I am sure that there must have been some statistics and probably Mervin Kellyís committee must have gotten them, but I donít remember and I donít think I have any papers on it. Any papers I had on that year at the AIP are probably in the AIP files. One of the persons, of course, that I got well acquainted with during that year was Madeline Mitchell, and I donít know if she was at the University of Minnesota when I was there but she came from the University of Minnesota. We both had an interest in high quality printing and I think an interest in very high standards in publishing, so we got along very well together. I enjoyed working there with the AIP when she was there in charge of all the journals.
Weiner:It seems to me that if you started off with an initial circulation of 2,000, you must have put on a pretty good promotional campaign beforehand.
Hutchisson:I think we did but youíll have to check that figure. Iím quoting it from memory. I think Iím right. But we did have quite a good promotion and also, of course, we had the people who had come to the 5th anniversary Conference. I believe many of those subscribed to it. But, as I remember, we were greatly interested in good promotion -- many of the original promotional pieces had a dramatic cover photograph on them to attract attention.
Weiner:While we are on the subject of files, what about the editorís files for subsequent years? Where did they end up?
Hutchisson:Iím afraid the editorís files were probably destroyed, or lost in making moves, because I have no more files. The journal files went from my office to Cornell. They must have gone from Case, because I was at Case at the time. Maybe some of the files got lost at the University of Pittsburgh. I just donít know where they are.
Weiner:We may have some at AIP too, mixed in with other things. Recently we came into repossession of the files of the Journal of Chemical Physics after many many years.
Well, some of them may still be at the University of Pittsburgh although I think when I left there they probably threw them out. I left the University of Pittsburgh in 1940 to go into war work with the intention of going back, but never did go back, so that may have been the reason for the loss of the files. Let me just say, after my year with AIP, when I came back I was surprised to be called in by the Dean. I was then an Assistant Professor of Physics. And he called me in and wanted to know whether would take over the headship of the department. This was a complete surprise to me, but he had been unhappy with A. G. Worthing. I think he was unhappy because they apparently wanted an entrepreneur in the department instead of a research physicist. Worthing was an excellent physicist but somewhat colorless and he didnít get along too well with the Chancellor. And so I was put in a very awkward position because he and I were good friends and yet I was supposed to take his place. I didnít know what to do.
At first, I think told them that I wouldnít take it, and they said if I wouldnít they were going to bring someone in from the outside. There was no question but that they were going to change the head of the department. I decided then that I would take it and I had a very understanding letter from Worthing -- he was a real gentleman in the way in which he took it and he was very helpful to me. But then they gave me a promotion from Assistant Professor to Full Professor, or rather Acting Professor, I guess, and so I took on the job of the headship of the department. This was the beginning of getting more heavily involved in administration. Of course, I had been at AIP as assistant director with Harry Barton and had had some experience. One of the things that I got interested in, again in a promotional way, was to develop a series of summer programs at the University of Pittsburgh on the physics of metals. This was again getting into an area which was related to the community because, of course, Pittsburgh was the metal center of the world. I thought that if there was anything that would bring support to physics in Pittsburgh it would be physics of metals. And so I started these summer sessions on the physics of metals. I have been interested to look back and see who we had as visiting staff, and it is a rather interesting list of people. For our first session, we got Neville Mott from Bristol and John Bardeen from Harvard, Francis Bitter from MIT, and Fred Seitz from General Electric.
At that time Iím sure it wasnít as clear as it was later that these were going to be the top people in the field. But they were not so prominent that they wouldnít come, so really we had a fine session, and Ed Condon was in Pittsburgh at that time. He was at Westinghouse. Louis Nettleton was with the Gulf Laboratory. And so we had an extremely interesting summer session. That was the first program. Then the second summer I got together another interesting group. Then we had John C. Slater, Ed Condon as a lecturer then, and Frederick Seitz again, and Bill Shockley and Millard Manning. So again we had an extremely talented group, and our audience was primarily people from industry. We used to get a rather large attendance for these courses. Condon gave a course in statistical mechanics and Shockley on the modern theory of solids, Seitz on electrical and magnetic properties of metals.
Weiner:Had there been other programs of this type?
Hutchisson:Of course there were the University of Michigan programs on theoretical physics. In fact I had attended one of those when came I back from Germany so that I was interested in the summer session idea.
Weiner:But I meant exclusively solid state.
Hutchisson:No, I donít think there were any others.
Weiner:Although you called it Physics of Metals, of course, but when you look at the breakdown -- it is modern theory of solids.
Hutchisson:Yes, it was solid state, but you see we were in Pittsburgh and I had to call it metals.
Weiner:I want to make the point that we have taken a very pleasant break for relaxation and sustenance and we are resuming again. When we left off we were talking about the physics of metals meetings in the summers at Pittsburgh and I started to ask you about funds, since from these brochures that we have here, I donít know if the speakers were paid anything, but they certainly had to be paid transportation.
Hutchisson:They were paid and I think at least for those days paid generously, but we got the money primarily by selling the idea of a program to the local industries. I just went around and told the people in industry that this was the kind of program that we would like to set up and that to do so we would need a few hundred dollars from each of them. And we collected enough money. Then what we did, if I remember correctly, was that we said that if the company paid a certain amount, then it would be privileged to send employees to the classes without further charge. And, as a result, we collected enough money so that these things were self-supporting. In fact, that was the only way the program could have been carried through because the University didnít have any money to spend on such seemingly foolhardy adventures.
Weiner:One thing that I am interested in looking at is the talks. Considering the very high level of the people presenting the talks and considering the titles they gave (which were rather serious titles having to do with fundamental questions in physics as applied to solids), was this accessible to the audience in question, the local industrial people, or was it beyond them?
Hutchisson:Oh no, I think in general it was quite in line with their interest because you see there were many laboratories here that had Ph.D. physicists who were interested in solid state physics -- people from Carnegie Tech and Westinghouse and other laboratories, men that Ed Condon would have on his staff, Union Switch and Signal, etc. There were a lot of metallurgical companies and their people were quite interested in the physics of metals. Of course, in a sense, the purpose was to inform these people of what was going on in the physics of the solid state or the physics of metals. The whole program was given in sort of a relaxed way. I donít know, for example, if you know Slater very well. Heís somewhat of a formal individual who hardly ever lets his hair down at all and yet when he was in Pittsburgh he was lots of fun. John Slater and Bill Shockley were there together. Bill had been a student of Slaterís and he remarked that he was usually very formal. Well, at Pittsburgh we had picnics and the staff had no responsibilities except to give their lectures, and so they were always very informal. When we had Mott here, we used to have informal breakfast parties to which heíd come. We would make pancakes out in the woods and have many picnics. The whole program was operated on a very informal level. Anyone who was at all interested could participate. I think the informality worked out very well and created a nice atmosphere and to my mind, at least, added a good deal to the intellectual atmosphere of the community, which is what we were trying to do. As a result of this we got a lot of support. We did get our cyclotron eventually at the University, and we got a lot of support from industry as a result of this kind of stimulation.
Weiner:In the form of specific grants or contributions?
Hutchisson:What the University itself got in the way of very general contributions I donít know. I am sure that this had something to do with the general support but it would be awfully hard to identify and separate it out.
Weiner:How many years did this continue?
Hutchisson:This went on four years until the war came.
Weiner:The first was when?
Hutchisson:1938, 1939, 1940 and 1941. I guess the summer of Ď41 was when I left to go into war work. John Tate had a section of NDRC on anti-submarine warfare and asked me to help him. So I left to go to New York. It must have been in Ď41. Pearl Harbor was in December Ď41. He asked whether I would come and work with him. He had E. H. Colpits, the former President of the Bell Labs, and asked if I would also come and work with him in the central office. I asked for a leave of absence and the University was willing to give it to me. Of course, they really had no choice because at that time there was a feeling that we were sure to get into the war and they felt it was their duty as well as mine. So I got a leave of absence from the University and spent four years in New York on the administration of anti-submarine research, with the intention of going back to the University of Pittsburgh. But while I was In New York I received an offer to go to Case and that is when I went to Case after the war was over.
Weiner:There is an interesting thing about that Division of the OSRD. I donít know where I got this but somewhere my notes say that it produced a large number of college presidents -- Penn, Rice, Penn State and Case. I think I got this from talking to Dorothy Lasky because my notes say DL.
Hutchisson:That is probably right because that is where I first met Dorothy Lasky. She appeared on the scene looking for a job and I was looking for a secretary, and we hit it off together right away. I was very pleased that she was willing to work with us, and she was, of course, as able then as she is now and so she was a great help. We also had n that division, Division 6 of NDRC, Bill Houston.
Weiner:By that time, it was OSRD, wasnít it?
Hutchisson:Yes, it was NDRC for one year and then when they took in the medical work they made a parent organization of the OSRD with the NDRC as one part and the Committee on Medical Research as the other. But Bill Houston was with us and he became President of Rice Institute, and Gaylord Harnwell, the President of the University of Pennsylvania, and Keith Glennan became President of Case. Eric Walker, who was with Ted Hunt at Harvard, became President of Penn State. And then we also had Paul Boner who became the Vice-President, I believe, of the University of Texas, and we had J. C. Morris, who was Vice-President of Tulane University.
Weiner:This was all as a result of their experience.
Hutchisson:No, not as a direct result. I think in the cases of Eric Walker and Bill Houston and Gaylord Harnwell the initial contacts were all as a result and Keith Glennan probably also. You canít say really as a result of their experience, although the work gave them administrative experience. I think Joe Morris had his job -- he was at Tulane and went back there. I think Paul Boner, however, went for the first time to the University of Texas. And we had Dick Bolt who became President of Bolt, Beranic and Newman, Inc. -- industrial consultants. It was a nice group that Tate got together. Oh, we had another one, the President of the University of California at Los Angeles -- Vern Knudsen.
Weiner:He was Chancellor as well as President.
Hutchisson:Yes, he was head of the San Diego Laboratory in anti-submarine research.
Weiner:Did Bob Morse come out of that?
Hutchisson:No, I think he was probably of a later generation.
Weiner:That reminds me of the Case names. It seems from my recollection that an awful lot of people who were involved in Division 6 then, were recruited to Case after the war, I donít know by what mechanism.
Hutchisson:Of course, Bob Shankland was in the Division so he might have brought some to Case although I donít think there were too many. I wouldnít say there were very many.
Weiner:I wonder how Marty Klein got there.
Hutchisson:Yes, Marty Klein, Leslie Foldy and Earle Gregg. These were people who Bob Shankland drew out of Case in order to help with the anti-submarine and particularly the acoustics work, and then they went back there. So I donít think there were too many who were drawn there originally. But at the time, should perhaps mention that I kept The Journal of Applied Physics going even though I went to New York, with the agreement of Jack Tate. I believe I spent quite a bit of time at the Institute during that time. We had our offices in the Empire State Building during the later years. Of course, while I was at Pitt, the University provided me with an office for the Journal and I had a special secretary for it so she did much of the detail work. During the later days of the war research activities, William Wickenden, who was president of Case, visited us. He, of course, knew Shankland and knew me in the sense that I was a Case graduate. We had quite a few discussions and that was finally how I went, at the end of the war research period, to Case as Dean of the Faculty. That was when I replaced Theodore Folke who had just retired as Dean of the Faculty at Case.
Weiner:I would like to talk a little bit about the war. You reflected in your editorials for the Journal of Applied Physics the whole question of mobilization of scientists without any real precedent. It seems to me that your editorials, and other concerns of the physics community, dealt with the need to mobilize scientists for the war, and at the same time to be sure that they were recognized as having something to contribute, so this involved problems not only with the Selective Service but assessing what the state of manpower and the specialties were within physics. And then, in the midst of this, there was already the concern for post-war planning. It amazes me that as early as 1942, 1943 there was genuine concern about the new elements being introduced. We must understand the nature of manpower; we must understand how physicists fit in; and we must also make up for lost time in education and in national scientific capital because of the involvement in the war I have made a statement -- I havenít asked a question -- but I was just introducing this.
Hutchisson:Yes, I presume that this was the kind of thing that was up for discussion constantly in our luncheon meetings and other gatherings. I donít think I was involved in any actual planning myself. Of course we were all concerned about this question of mobilization of science.
Weiner:For example, there were a series of articles in 1940 or 1941. Here is the War Policy Committee of AIP, donít know if you were on it.
Hutchisson:I donít think was on it, I just knew what was going on because of my association with AIP.
Weiner:It seems to me that you gave major space to it. Did you feel this was a special approach for the Journal of Applied Physics because it was sort of bridging that occupation question?
Hutchisson:Yes, Iím sure that this was the case. Iíd forgotten about this. We got into a lot of organizational matters. Wallace Waterfall and I worked on the question of the organization of the journals -- what could be done about the new journals that were needed, and so forth. I was sort of amused at the meeting which we had just a couple of weeks ago in New York where guess Bill Havens was talking about the development of new journals because I donít think Bill was in on some of the early planning. It was very definitely the Institute which was interested in broadening physics and including such things as Journal of Mathematical Physics and the Journal of the Physics of Fluids in the field of the physics journals. And the Physical Society essentially said, as they had year after year: well, this isnít pure physics, and if youíre going to get into such applications the AIP can do it and not risk the reputation of the American Physical Society or dilute their interests. This has been the philosophy all the way along. So these journals would possibly never have appeared if the AIP hadnít taken the initiative to encourage them and to actually stick its neck out in financing some of these journals, or in getting financing -- I guess in that period we always got governmental financing for journals.
Weiner:As an editor of a journal you were involved in general discussions on publications. Was there a publication board?
Hutchisson:There was a publications board, yes. In fact, I think I was chairman of it for many of these years.
Weiner:The articles that I was referring to in the Journal of Applied Physics deal with the shortage of physicists; they deal with the draft regulations; with research and defense preparations, and so forth. In looking through the Journal of Applied Physics where you have the top people in physics and industry writing articles -- you have Kettering, John Bardeen, Fred Seitz, Stanley Livingston on the cyclotron, that kind of thing throughout -- how did you get them to write? And secondly, was there a fee or an honorarium in any way? And then, were they all invited papers -- I know you said some came from meetings.
Hutchisson:Well, of course, as you know, oftentimes what you do is to invite people to take part in a meeting with the expectation that this will provide a paper, so that the two are related. The early years were before Physics Today was established so that there was no journal which offered sort of general review articles. The RSI may have done to some extent, but the RSI was mostly devoted to instruments, so that there was no journal for such general articles that we published. And I think many people were quite willing to take a hand at writing them. I donít think there was any unusual pressure needed. The journal had a reasonably high reputation, which helped, and it had a big circulation. The circulation went up rather steeply and people began to lose their grudge against applied physics and so it prospered. And, as the journal prospered, we got a bigger circulation and could spend more money. The Journal of Applied Physics, like the other journals, was operated on the basis that the advertising income was to be used for the general purposes of the Institute, while the Journal itself had to be self-supporting. So we would have a page budget depending on how much income we had and we would stick very closely to that page budget.
Weiner:Were there page charges for the Journal?
Hutchisson:Yes, there were page charges for the articles which were not invited. I think they probably were started out on the basis of what the Physical Review had because this was an off-shoot of the Journal of Physics.
Weiner:Was there any payment for invited articles?
Hutchisson:No, I donít think we ever paid for an invited article.
Weiner:What about refereeing for contributed articles? Was there any refereeing system?
Hutchisson:Yes, it was in general a refereeing system that was adjusted to the kind of papers we were getting. We used referees in industry a good bit, although, as I remember now, that isnít perhaps quite true because at times we couldnít get, for example, a General Electric Company referee to review a Westinghouse Electric Company article. So that we would try to get neutral referees and that meant using university referees, so we probably used quite a few university referees. But we had a large group of referees which we used to call upon depending upon the subject matter.
Weiner:How large a group was it? It would vary at different times I know.
Hutchisson:I suppose it might be 50 to 100 people or something like that. It depended a great deal upon the range of the articles. We did get in the early issues some very important articles. The first reports of the klystron -- early papers of the Varian brothers, and Hansen, too -- were all published in the JAP. We tried to capitalize on this. We tried to push such things as electromagnetic resonators and the physics of metals because we thought these were very important areas in applied physics.
Weiner:Did you run into any difficulties in either patent problems or the question of over-balancing one company versus another?
Hutchisson:No question of over-balance, but we did have one or two cases where there were patent difficulties. But nothing very serious, I donít really remember how we got out of them but I know once in a while the question came up and we would have to supply records of when we got papers because of patent question.
Weiner:Nothing that you were involved in?
Hutchisson:No, it wasnít that we ourselves were involved but it was primarily a matter of the priorities that came up.
Weiner:Can you assess the impact of the magazine from its first period, let us say 1937, to the immediate post-war period? You said that it grew and that the audience increased and that apparently it was thriving and gaining respect. Do you relate this in any way to changes that were occurring in the physics community as such?
Hutchisson:I think so. Iím sure the recognition of the fact that industry had good physicists, and furthermore, that they needed more good physicists, was stimulated. Physicists were being attracted to industry and then they began to write and inform others in industry so that ďphysics in industryĒ became much more respectable than it used to be. I am sure the Journal had a part in this although it is always hard to tell just what part and what influence it had.
Weiner:Did you ever do a breakdown, or do you know of anyone who has, of the affiliations of authors who had papers in the Journal of Applied Physics?
Hutchisson:We had some, but I donít have them any longer.
Weiner:Iím curious how many were people writing from an academic institution base, but writing applied articles, as opposed to people who were already in industry.
Hutchisson:Well, Iím not quite sure that I can give any opinion on that. My feeling was that we had far more articles from people in industry than we did from academic institutions, but I may be wrong on that.
Weiner:It would be easy to check but I wondered if it had been done.
Hutchisson:No. We did make it a very general practice wherever we could, to send invitations to people in industry to write and also to get referees from industry, and we did try to build in physicists in industry as part of the editorial board of the Journal. We had a mission and we tried to serve that mission.
Weiner:About how much of your time did it take?
Hutchisson:It is a little bit hard to tell, I would guess in the early days it took 50% of my time. At the beginning it was much more work than later. Of course, for the Journal of Applied Physics like all other journals, when it is first starting, the editor Ö well, in my case, for example (I was greatly interested in it), spent a lot of time and didnít have very deep responsibilities otherwise, so I could spend the time. But gradually, I began to get more responsibilities which were pulling me away from it and so had to spend less time on it and it meant that I had less time to write for invited papers and stimulate the invited papers and so that gradually the Journal became much more of an archive journal than a review-type journal. I think it is a good idea to change editors reasonably often. I had the Journal of Applied Physics for 17 years. Thatís a long time.
Weiner:1937-1953, until you took over the Institute.
Hutchisson:It was a long time. However, I went back to the AIP in 1955. I had an assistant editor when I became acting President of Case because I couldnít spend as much time on it. Of course, as most things were in those days, it was run on a shoestring. We had to economize very much but it didnít do us any harm. Where are we now?
Weiner:We had gotten into the end of the war period and then I backtracked just to get a feeling of how the Journal was going. Letís pick it up -- I would like to get back to AIP once you got back to it. So, when you went to Case, which was 1945, the position you took there was Dean of the Faculty. That is rather a jump -- first, from Assistant Professor to Full Professor and Chairman of the Department, and then, within a relatively few years, to Dean of the Faculty. And it means to me that you had made probably a happy decision to get even further away from specific science and the teaching of science into organization and administration and, as you put it, the entrepreneurial aspects of it.
Hutchisson:Evidently I found it easier to do administrative work than most people and so it sort of came naturally. I had a long experience in the war because I was in the main OSRD office, the Division 6 office, concerned with nothing but administration. I had quite a bit of experience with that and I found it came fairly easily, so it was natural to get into administrative work after the war more than I did before the war. I think this was a fairly natural transition. Iím quite sure if I had gone back to the University of Pittsburgh I would have been in administrative work there shortly because they said so. They wanted me to go back to the University of Pittsburgh but I thought the opportunities at Case were a little better, and it tied in with my interest in the relation between physics and engineering -- applied physics -- so this was another reason for going to an engineering school. I think it worked out very well. William Wickenden was there as President when I first went and then he, at the end of two years, retired. Then followed T. Keith Glennan. Glennan was there for three or four years and then he was on leave and I took over as acting president. He was on leave for two years with the Atomic Energy Commission. When he came back I think it was a little difficult situation because I had spent two years as acting president and had developed certain routines of things and when he came back there was a certain duplication. We didnít get into arguments but our fields of activities were not as closely divided as they might have been originally. I would have to check on the dates -- I donít remember them -- but after a short time I was getting a little bit itchy. I was getting sort of tired of the kinds of things that I was doing so I was quite open for a new field. One evening I remember I was actually laid up with the flu when I had a call from Fred Seitz. He said that Harry Barton had decided to retire and wondered whether I would be interested in becoming the Director of the American Institute of Physics. It hit me at just the right time, so said, ďFine, I think Iíd like that.Ē
Weiner:You didnít say it on the spot, did you?
Hutchisson:Well, I probably said IĎd consider it or something of this kind. Actually, Fred didnít say it quite that way either. He said that he was authorized to look into various people, so he wasnít actually offering the job, and I wasnít actually accepting, but at least we discussed it. I indicated an interest and he indicated an interest, and later it came about. I was rather glad to change my area of responsibility since I had had so many contacts with the Institute. Some time ahead of that, I was chairman of a committee of the Institute on the role of physics and engineering education. Here it is: 1955-1957. That was a very fine committee, I remember Julius Stratton, Bruce Lindsay and Harvey Fletcher were members of it and several other engineering educators. We had several very good meetings. Then we did a lot of travelling around to various engineering institutions. I think the report that came out was well appreciated, and this was part of the reason why I had had a lot of contact with the Institute just a couple of years before I went to it. I had attended several meetings and of course I had had close contact with Harry Barton ever since the first year that I had spent there at the Institute. In fact, part of the time when I was at the Institute Ö oh, no, this was another time. Harry Barton was going away for a summer and he asked me if I would care to come to the Institute for a summer and take his place and live in his house in Princeton. We did that for a couple of months.
Weiner:Was that before the war?
Weiner:We have just fixed the date as 1940 when you went to New York for the summer to take Harry Bartonís place. That was when you had another taste of day-to-day life at the Institute.
Hutchisson:Yes. I knew enough about what was going on so that I could take over very easily. There werenít any crucial problems. Since I had had an earlier year at the Institute as Assistant Director and had been back there from time to time and had the long contact with the Journal of Applied Physics and then most recently with the Committee on Engineering Education, I was asked whether I would help out.
Weiner:Were there any of the member societies that you had been active in in a more than minor way?
Hutchisson:Probably the AAPT more than any other. I had published several papers on teaching and teaching techniques and I had received their Honorary Award Certificate. I was never an officer in any of the societies.
Weiner:Did you ever serve on any of the Institute committees of the societies per se?
Hutchisson:I might have been on one or more AAPT committees. I was on an Abstracts Committee of APS. A rather fortuitous matter came up I was visiting the Institute one time and there was an invitation to attend a meeting on Physics Abstracts in Paris that had been sent to Karl Darrow, but the invitation came about the 10th of December and the meeting was to be about Christmas time, which meant something less than two weeks away. Thus the only way you could get to Paris and to attend this meeting was to fly. Karl Darrow didnít believe in flying. I was in Cleveland at the time at Case but had come to a meeting at the AIP and Karl was there. I had been rather critical about Physics Abstracts earlier so when Ed Condon was President of the American Physical Society he had made me chairman of the APS Committee on Physics Abstracts.
Weiner:This was 1950?
Hutchisson:Actually I think it was earlier because the first meeting abroad was in 1949.
Weiner:You were Chairman of the Board of Editors.
Hutchisson:That was an AIP Committee. I think there was a committee of the Physical Society on Physics Abstracts or Science Abstracts which may have been set up a little earlier than this. But anyway, when I was in New York in December 1949, Karl Darrow said, ďI canít go to this meeting. Youíre chairman of our committee on Physics Abstracts, why donít you go?Ē So I called up Rose and said, ďWould you like to have Christmas dinner in the Eiffel Tower?Ē and she said, ďBy all means,Ē and so we left. That was my introduction to international meetings on Science Abstracts and I was involved with such meetings until just a few years ago, meeting every year, both with the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics and ICSU. I became quite deeply involved in the latter. I always had an interest in abstracts. In fact, even when I was in Case I was writing papers on abstracting.
Weiner:I have a list of papers here.
Hutchisson:Hereís one in 1950 (International Physics Abstracting Service, Science, Vol. 112, p. 635) and one in 1955 (A Continuing Index to Our Stockpile of Knowledge, American Documentation, Vol. 6, pp. 211-15). I was much interested in abstracting at that time and had done a lot of thinking and work about it but anyway it just happened that because Karl Darrow didnít want to go that I was put on the International Abstracting Board of ICSU, and stayed on for some 15 or 16 years.
Weiner:We got on to that because I had asked about involvement with societies.
Hutchisson:This was one case where I was on a committee of a society. I donít think I was ever an officer.
Weiner:Let me ask a speculative question: after your two years experience as Acting President at Case, did it enter your mind that a possible position would be as a college president in some other institution?
Hutchisson:Yes, in fact, I was asked if I would take such a job and really forget now just where it was. It was right after Glennan came back and I felt that I couldnít leave very well because it would make quite a gap just at that time. Or maybe it was while he was away, but for some reason or other, I felt as if I couldnít take it. I suppose if had had a very attractive offer I would have taken it, but I think I looked forward a little bit more to an association with the American Institute of Physics than I did with continuing on with college administration, although I might have done either one.
Weiner:When you made the decision and it was finally offered to you and you decided that you would take it, did you have to go through a process of meeting different people at the Institute and being looked over? Was there a selection committee?
Hutchisson:There was a selection committee but I knew many of those concerned and was known well enough. And also I had just been elected a Member-At-Large of the Governing Board, so that people knew me well enough so that there was no formal kind of looking over as there might have been for someone who was unknown. As a matter of fact, Bruce Lindsay was a member of the Committee on Physics and Engineering Education and we had seen a good deal of each other. I had known Sawyer for a long time, and Fred Seitz was one of our earlier lecturers at Pittsburgh and I had gone up to his place at Lake George so I knew him quite well. He at least knew me and had reported to the Board on many occasions.
Weiner:It seems to me that taking that position was a completely different order of relationship than being the editor of a journal because the position of director is one who has to maintain relationships with the various societies and to be in a sort of service capacity and involve the Institute so that it will be acceptable to all these societies, some of whom have different concepts of what the Institute should be. They have different concepts among the societies and different perhaps from the executive staff of the Institute itself. When did that first hit you?
I knew from a long ways back some of the goals of people like Pegram, Tate, Foote and Klopsteg had for the Institute. They were interested in having the Institute act as a common spokesman for physics in America, someone who would speak not for just the American Physical Society but for all the societies, and I felt very strongly that the position of physics in America would be strengthened by having a strong Institute, although this was not the idea of some of the officers of the societies. I donít know whether they knew what they were getting in me or not, but again, I was somewhat of an entrepreneur and I felt that my job was to build up as strong an Institute as it was possible to build. And, also, that the Institute should do everything that needed to be done and was not being done by the societies. Having come from a college where it was the job of the college president, I assumed it was the job of the Director of the Institute to find funds to do the things that were needed to be done. When I took the job, it was just near the end of the campaign to raise the money for the building of the new building and to develop certain new areas. There was a half million dollar campaign if I remember correctly which hadnít gone nearly as well as people would have liked.
My feeling was that it hadnít been promoted in the way that it should have been. I remember I had some discussions with Wallace Waterfall who said, ďForget about that campaign. Donít get yourself in the place of failing in getting funds in a campaign. Donít take over the campaign and not have it successful.Ē I didnít look at it this way because I had been used to raising money and it seemed to me as though one ought to go and try to sell physics. I felt, just as I had all along that physics societies had neglected industry, and thought that there were a lot things that the Institute should do and that one source of additional money was industry. So I decided that I would do what I could to see that the fund drive was brought to a reasonably successful conclusion. I went out talking to groups in industry and I remember I went to a meeting in Stamford, Connecticut -- Iíve forgotten which company sponsored it -- but they set up sort of a small seminar and I told them what I had hoped the Institute could do and that we needed money in this campaign to do these things. I remember well that the Director of the Laboratory said, ďWell, youíve got a good story. But you shouldnít ask us for money just for this campaign because what you really want is a continuing support. It is just as easy for me to give you $1000 a year as it is to give you $1000 in one shot. If you ask me for $1000 in one shot Iíve got to go to my Board of Directors, but if you ask me for $999 a year, then I can give it to you on my own say.Ē So he said, ďWhy donít you ask for money on a continuing basis rather than a one-shot basis?Ē And I thought that was a fine idea.
So I changed my tactics and decided I would undertake to develop the Corporate Associate program which Harry Barton had started a long time previously and which Mervin Kelly was strongly endorsing. I remember when I was setting fees, we thought the first thing we ought to do was raise the fees -- I remember telling Mervin Kelly I was thinking of raising the fees from something like $350 to $500 and he said, ďWhy donít you go up to a thousand.Ē And so he encouraged me all the way along and we finally got it up to $5000 maximum and we developed a fee that depended upon the number of physicists in the company. This program brought in an extra $200,000 a year to the Institute and this enabled us to develop the public relations program which seemed to me awfully important, and the educational activities. Some of the latter were supported by some grants which came from the campaign and the Sloan Foundation. We did get enough money with some of these donations and some government grants to take our campaign over the $500,000 mark. It was a matter of interpreting the gifts in the right way but this was standard practice in any kind of fund-raising business. And then we did get the continuing support, and my philosophy was: If it needs to be done, Iím sure there is money to do it. Letís just find out what we ought to do and then go ahead and do it. This was a different philosophy, Iím sure, from what the Institute had previously and really a different philosophy from what Harry Barton had had.
I used to get into minor trouble, of course, part of the time because some society officers thought I was mixing up into too many things, but I sort of enjoyed it. Then when Sputnik came in, there began the period of large governmental grants. So again I said, ďWell, if weíve jobs to be done, letís go to the granting offices and get the funds to do them,Ē and we did. We got money for everything we wanted to do. I remember at one of our first meetings at the Arden House when we had the Assembly of Officers, Karl Darrow made a little speech about how the Physical Society had brought up this young child who now was beginning to assert itself and had so much money it was able to bail out the Societies instead of it being the other way round. In fact, we offered the Societies the possibility of reducing greatly their support if they found it difficult because it was such a small part of our income. They didnít accept and it was wise that they didnít. They said, ďWell, if we donít support the Institute we will have no chance of having anything to say about its policy.Ē
Weiner:The argument was raised again recently.
Yes, and this was a good statement. But anyway we went after money to do everything we felt needed to be done and when we wanted to start a new journal we would solicit either the National Science Foundation or the Office of Naval Research to support the journal initially to help it get started. This was the normal duty of an entrepreneur who saw things that need to be done and then sought the money to do it. At times the Societies felt we were doing too much. I know we had some disagreements with some of my very good friends in the AAPT because my reaction was, ďIf weíre going out after money, we have to do things to justify the support.Ē We couldnít do these things anonymously; we had to do them and say that the AIP was doing them. In effect, the AAPT said, ďEducation is our business and the AIP should carry out educational projects in our name.Ē But AAPT didnít have the money-raising facilities that we did and so even if their name was used they couldnít raise funds to do more.
Most of the Governing Board thought that educational matters were related to all of the Societies and so I was supported and even encouraged to do more. To use individual society names, alone, wouldnít have helped us in getting funds, so my feeling was that at least AIP had to share in some of the credit for getting things done. We had Bill Kelly at AIP at that time, and Bill was a tremendously able and active person, but his relations with some of the Society officers were not as good as his ability to get things done. He recognized that to work through committees would greatly slow down the work. And so we did get some rather sharp reactions from the AAPT about things that we were getting into, and I think it was perhaps that which induced the AAPT to set up its Commission on College Physics which at the time bothered me because I thought that we were splitting physics activities up rather than bringing them together. But this was always the bone of contention between my conception of the AIP and that of some of the officers of the Societies. I wanted to have a strong Institute in order to have strong physics in America. The societies also wanted strong physics but they didnít want a strong Institute, or at least some of them didnít. However it is on record in the Governing Board Minutes, every once in a while, they would say, ďWe must pass a resolution encouraging Hutchisson to continue to take on new tasks,Ē because I felt if I couldnít do these things I was of little use to the Institute.
Weiner:That is an interesting point about where the initiative for these large scale activities which are characterized by the last period came from. I gather from what I know about it and from what you have said that they largely came from the executive staff of the Institute rather than from pressure from member societies.
Hutchisson:Oh yes, there was no pressure from member societies. It was the other way around.
Weiner:And yet, the pattern has been once they are instituted then this becomes an acceptable part of the work that the societies agree to support, even when they have to pick up the tab for a grant that is no longer there.
Yes, but of course this was not the case while I was there; there was always money to do anything we wanted. This was still the period when the budget was going up 25% - 50% a year almost, it was going up very fast, so we never got to the place where the societies had to support any of the new activities started. And we never got to the place where we had to cut back sharply because of lack of money. There was always money if you went after it vigorously enough and my feeling is there always will be if you are able to tap sources that wonít dry up. Itís obvious that if you have all your projects in government contracts and the government begins to cut back, youíre going to run into trouble. We thought that, particularly with the Corporate Associates, we had a wide enough diversity of companies from which we could get continuing support, and, of course, I was also interested in getting support for other activities from individuals. Just as I came to the Institute on July 1, 1957, we were moving into the building on 45th street. The furniture had been moved in just a few days before I got there.
We werenít there very long, hardly a couple of months, before we found that we would have to expand and we bought the lot next door. We needed more space and we decided it would be better to build on the lot rather than try to build a tall building which we had thought of. But when we did that, my feeling again was that we should have a central place in America for physics and I wanted to see an Institute which would be a central place for people to come to and something that would be attractive in itself. So I thought that since the Institute is dealing primarily with people, rather than with physics research, that we should have a library concerned with physics people, which meant biographies and related matters. Also, the library ought to be an outstanding one because if the AIP building was going to represent physics in America it ought to have something clearly associated with physics; if not research, then some particular outstanding library collection. And it was on this basis that I approached Dannie Heineman for funds and he then said that he thought this was a good idea and said he would support it. So that was the way we got the Bohr Library started. I still feel strongly that this is an extremely important part of any kind of headquarters building.