History Home | Book Catalog | International Catalog of Sources | Visual Archives | Contact Us

Oral History Transcript — Dr. Hyron Spinrad

This transcript may not be quoted, reproduced or redistributed in whole or in part by any means except with the written permission of the American Institute of Physics.

This transcript is based on a tape-recorded interview deposited at the Center for History of Physics of the American Institute of Physics. The AIP's interviews have generally been transcribed from tape, edited by the interviewer for clarity, and then further edited by the interviewee. If this interview is important to you, you should consult earlier versions of the transcript or listen to the original tape. For many interviews, the AIP retains substantial files with further information about the interviewee and the interview itself. Please contact us for information about accessing these materials.

Please bear in mind that: 1) This material is a transcript of the spoken word rather than a literary product; 2) An interview must be read with the awareness that different people's memories about an event will often differ, and that memories can change with time for many reasons including subsequent experiences, interactions with others, and one's feelings about an event. Disclaimer: This transcript was scanned from a typescript, introducing occasional spelling errors. The original typescript is available.

Access form   |   Project support   |   How to cite   |   Print this page


See the catalog record for this interview and search for other interviews in our collection



Interview with Dr. Hyron Spinrad
By David DeVorkin
At Campbell Hall, Berkeley, CA
July 19, 1977

open tab View abstract

Hyron Spinrad; July 19, 1977

ABSTRACT: Early life in New York and California, and decision to do undergraduate work in astronomy at Berkeley. During his army service (1955-57), Spinrad decided on a career in astronomy and returned to Berkeley (1957) for graduate work. Professional career: work at JPL (1961ó64); return to Berkeley as a professor in 1964, and research in galaxy-related problems. Spinrad also reflects on general problems in cosmology.

Transcript

DeVorkin:

We are going to start with some biographical information. I know that you were born in 1934, New York City, but I donít know too much more about your family from WHOíS WHO, and so I would like to have a discussion of your roots, your beginnings, and your early influences in life.

Spinrad:

OK. Thatís fairly straightforward. Unfortunately, my mother died when I was a few weeks old, complications, basically, of childbirth, and I lived with my father and grandmother, when I was a kid in Brooklyn. I guess it would have been called a middle class neighborhood. I went to the normal public schools, without any particular excitement. It seems like there was always a considerable cultural interest in the family, that I think was basically my grandmotherís influence. I donít think I took to it very well. I know she used to listen to opera on Sunday afternoons, and I couldnít stand it. God, that was awful!

DeVorkin:

The Texaco Opera?

Spinrad:

Well, whatever was on the radio every week, in New York. In the late thirties, I guess — or maybe roughly 1940, is when I sort of remember it. I thought it was ghastly, and Iíd rather go out and do something else outside. Get beat up by the local punks.

DeVorkin:

Where in Brooklyn did you live?

Spinrad:

In the Bushwick section, which was, I think, then a relatively nice place. The public schools were rather high quality, looking back on it, and very formal, compared to my later school in the West. I remember going to the Hayden Planetarium fairly frequently with my father or my aunt. It must have been around the beginning of the war, when I was roughly seven or eight years old.

DeVorkin:

Do you remember asking to be taken?

Spinrad:

Thatís an interesting question. Iím not sure how it started first. I would guess at first I was just taken rather than [by my] request (to go). I probably didnít realize its existence. I really liked it. My interest in astronomy started some time at the approximate age of seven.

DeVorkin:

Let me ask about your fatherís background.

Spinrad:

Right, OK. My dad wasnít a particularly formally educated person. He was the oldest of four children, and therefore had to go out and get work during high school. He finished high school and right after that he did a variety of odd jobs. During the war, I remember very clearly that he worked in an aluminum plant, making aircraft parts, and maybe part of the time in a shipyard too. I canít remember which. Maybe he did both. But he couldnít have done them both simultaneously.

DeVorkin:

Was he born in the New York area?

Spinrad:

No, he was born in Cleveland, and moved to New York when he was a baby, so heís effectively a New Yorker, and the rest of my family also.

DeVorkin:

How many generations back does your family go in the United States?

Spinrad:

Oh, just beyond that level. My grandmother on my father side came over in approximately 1885, plus or minus a few years, landed in the usual place in New York, and then somehow got to Cleveland. Iíve never understood why Cleveland was an initial home base for a little while. But then they went back to New York and I guess lived in Brooklyn.

DeVorkin:

Did the family have a trade that might have taken them there?

Spinrad:

Thatís a good guess, because my grandfather on my fatherís side was a tailor. At least he was a tailor when I was born. He died also shortly after I was born, so I donít remember him very well. But he had a tailor shop, and thatís really all I can recall about him. My grandmother had considerable interest in education and in the finer things in life, which seemed very much out of place to me in Brooklyn. I donít know quite why. Now, it would seem much more logical, but it didnít at the time.

DeVorkin:

Thatís interesting. Did you feel these intellectual pursuits — that sort of thing — were irrelevant to the milieu you were growing up in?

Spinrad:

Yes, more or less irrelevant. Yes, I would say that. You know, not vital to oneís survival and daily interests, which may have centered at that time a lot on Mickey Owen and the Dodgers, or you know, chasing a local cat or something.

DeVorkin:

Did you live in an apartment building in Brooklyn?

Spinrad:

No, I think it was rather nicer than that. It was some kind of two story structure, a flat. In fact, I think one of my great-aunts lived upstairs, for a fair fraction of the time, so it was like an extended family. It was relatively pleasant. We had a back yard. I remember, during the war we had a Victory Garden. So we must have had considerable acreage, I mean, for New York — a definite plot of land in back. The front wasnít such an appealing building. I remember that distinctly, because there were bars on the windows.

DeVorkin:

Well, thatís not uncommon in New York.

Spinrad:

I thought it was ghastly. Maybe it was to keep me in, rather than to keep anybody else out, I donít know.

DeVorkin:

You have interesting and strong impressions from your early childhood.

Spinrad:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

Do you remember seeing the stars, from a very early age?

Spinrad:

Only during the war, when there was a blackout. It was terrible. I mean, you couldnít see the stars very well, ordinarily. You could see the planets. The sky was even then quite bright. I remember getting a small telescope, though, when I was about ten. I already had some interest, and somebody in the family, either my dad or my aunt, bought an old, probably World War I hand held eye glass, from some pawn shop. It was pretty bad, but you could look at the moon with it. But I can remember occasionally, during the early war when theyíd have blackouts in New York, looking at the Milky Way, and being a little surprised that you could see it easily.

DeVorkin:

What about your early interests though, because you said you had gotten interested in astronomy at the age of seven, and this was before the blackouts, just barely, wasnít it?

Spinrad:

Just about the same time. Iím not quite sure how my interest started. I was also interested a little bit in insects and meteorology and aircraft, not to the point of understanding aircraft mechanically, but just sort of keeping track of what sort of planes were around. There were a large variety of planes, around about the beginning of the war, military planes and DC-3ís and a lot of strange single engine things, and I guess we were not too far from one of the flight paths to LaGuardia, because we would see a lot of planes almost every afternoon. I remember my Dad, in fact, taking me out to LaGuardia to watch them land. I thought that was quite a thrill too. So I had a variety of interests, but astronomy was definitely one of them, at that stage. I had several kidsí astronomy books, I canít remember which ones now. I thought they were OK.

DeVorkin:

These were definitely for children?

Spinrad:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

Seeing the stars, constellations, that sort of thing?

Spinrad:

Yes, but I remember also, probably a little later on, someone giving us a gift of Flammarionís ASTRONOMY, which of course was way over my head, but I looked at the pictures and puzzled over it. I realized that there was a technical level, too.

DeVorkin:

You were going through public school at this time.

Spinrad:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

What do you think your influences were in public school itself? You say it was a classical education?

Spinrad:

Well, classical in a sense. Not classical in the sense of Greek classics. It was pretty straight and pretty good and fairly tough, I think. Contrasted to what I see in my own children now at the same level, there was I think more emphasis on rigid things, behavior, but also more emphasis on heavy academic subjects, mathematics, probably introduction to other things besides.

DeVorkin:

Did you have brothers and sisters?

Spinrad:

No. Iím the only one. Because my mother died. Then my father remarried later, but much later. Much later. There could have been others before me. I should have said that he had been married about two or three years, I guess, when I was born.

DeVorkin:

As you went through public school, did you develop an interest in going to college, at an early age?

Spinrad:

I donít really remember. I donít think anyone in my family, up to that time, had attended a regular college on a day basis, although I suspect that some of them had taken — my aunt or some of my uncles — some night courses in college. By that time, two of my uncles had left for California, and taken up accounting, which presumably meant some further education. I donít really know what they did. They didnít go to a regular four year institution. Iím not sure when I thought about it first. It probably was later.

DeVorkin:

You maintained contact with these uncles?

Spinrad:

Well, to some extent. But the contacts we made werenít germane to the subject.

DeVorkin:

Right. So your development of interest in astronomy was pretty much an internal development, so far as you can recall.

Spinrad:

Yes. I think thatís right.

DeVorkin:

Was it stimulated, as you said, by your trips to the Hayden Planetarium?

Spinrad:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

Did you later on ask to go to the Hayden Planetarium?

Spinrad:

Oh yes, sure. Once I got into it. Right. And I got a subscription to SKY AND TELESCOPE at an early age, which also was I think a very strong influence.

DeVorkin:

What did you find most interesting in SKY AND TELESCOPE? At the time you started subscribing?

Spinrad:

Oh, just where to find planets, initially. How to tell a bright star from a bright planet. And then somewhat more technical things. But I canít remember any one outstanding article.

DeVorkin:

Did you ever get interested in making your own telescope, at that stage?

Spinrad:

Not seriously. I wasnít terribly handy. We didnít have tools or a lot of money to invest in it. Sort of a combination of things. No, I figured I could get along either without one, or with this kind of spyglass from the pawn shop. I didnít ever really want to buy one. I donít think I had ever gone to a meeting of any amateur society. Presumably they had them then, in the New York metropolitan area, with telescopes, but I never went to anything like that.

DeVorkin:

Did you have any contact with Hayden other than just attending the public shows?

Spinrad:

No, nothing special on an individual basis.

DeVorkin:

When did you start taking physical science courses and math courses?

Spinrad:

Probably after I came to San Francisco. I moved to the West with my dad in 1946. I was 12 then. And I suppose, in junior high school in San Francisco, I had the first smattering of such courses, not terribly deep, and high school courses, Iím sure, in San Francisco.

DeVorkin:

What was the cause for your move? This was definitely after the war?

Spinrad:

Yes. It was after the war. Sort of a new start in life for my father, who wanted to do something else besides work in a naval or aircraft factory. He became an accountant. Still is. He got closer to his two brothers, who then lived in San Francisco also. Then he remarried a year later.

DeVorkin:

In going into accounting then, naturally numbers and ciphering, arithmetic, mathematics was around the house.

Spinrad:

Yes. I just donít remember it having any influence. I think it had almost negligible influence on me.

DeVorkin:

Was there any influence from his direction as to your going to college?

Spinrad:

Oh yes, for sure. I mean, he always spoke in favor of it, and got on my back if I was goofing off. I mean, there were periods when I worked hard in school and periods where I didnít at all. And he didnít tolerate much of that — after he realized it was happening, and there was some lag in finding out, I suppose.

DeVorkin:

Sometimes there is a lag.

Spinrad:

Yes. He sort of, later on, kept the direction there, and would get quite upset if I didnít do well.

DeVorkin:

How did his financial status change?

Spinrad:

Oh, it gradually improved. It was never superb.

DeVorkin:

Was it ever at a point where there was a question as to whether you were going to be able to go to college?

Spinrad:

Not in California, because of course the college system here, even in the fifties, was quite egalitarian and relatively inexpensive. In fact it was very easy to go to school, as an undergraduate at Berkeley, with negligible expense, comparatively.

DeVorkin:

Before we actually have you arrive at Berkeley, do you have any recollections of particularly significant high school teachers, in physical science or mathematics, who may have stimulated you on, in your studies?

Spinrad:

I had a really super chemistry teacher. I canít remember his name any more.

DeVorkin:

OK, could you describe some of your experiences. Possibly in the lab?

Spinrad:

I donít think it was the laboratory thing that got me really excited. I donít know, maybe it was somehow, perhaps understanding a little bit of the periodic table of the elements, figuring out what a valence electron was and did chemically. That put a few things together. I thought that was very exciting at the time. I was a junior in high school.

DeVorkin:

Did you ever wonder about the reality of all these little particles that you couldnít see?

Spinrad:

I donít think I ever paid attention to very many of them. I mean, just the very basic three. You know, I guess people didnít know anything about neutrinos then, thank goodness. No, I still am turned off, once you get beyond a few simple particles. I donít really care to know about them. Iím sure I would not have been very excited if Iíd realized I had to know about a dozen — at the time. But just proton, electron, neutron were good enough then.

DeVorkin:

Did you read any astronomy while you were in high school? Did you continue to read on the side?

Spinrad:

Yes, but erratically. There were times when I was much more interested in other things.

DeVorkin:

What were they?

Spinrad:

Not scientific things particularly, but just sports, for example, I went through a brief stamp collecting binge. Didnít last very long.

DeVorkin:

Considering collecting — you mentioned insects before — was this actually a collecting enterprise, where you would classify the insects and present them in some sort of a fashion?

Spinrad:

On a low level, that was the case, but it didnít last. Sort of two summers and that was it. I threw it all away.

DeVorkin:

I guess in New York thereís only one classical brand of insect.

Spinrad:

Well, I occasionally remember going to Long Island with a net — once maybe I did, or twice — catching a bunch of things and sticking pins in them.

DeVorkin:

Was it an interest in collecting, do you think, or an interest in the objects themselves?

Spinrad:

A little of each. But it just didnít have any long term survival. My interest waned quickly after that.

DeVorkin:

OK. What do you think your primary choice of Berkeley, was, in your mind at the time in choosing a college?

Spinrad:

I knew it was a good school, and it was convenient and inexpensive, and all my friends were going there.

DeVorkin:

Did you have any chance of scholarships? Did you try for any?

Spinrad:

I tried for one, and didnít get it, and they just said, you know, you had to be really at the poverty level to get it. And we were not, of course.

DeVorkin:

Did you have any counseling in high school? Did any of these counselors or anyone you talked to consider other colleges at all?

Spinrad:

There was not a lot of counseling. There was a little bit, and I took not much advantage of it. By that time, I was more or less making my own decision, I think, myself. I got a course catalogue, and saw there was an astronomy major.

DeVorkin:

You looked specifically for astronomy?

Spinrad:

Yes, by that time I knew I was going to major in astronomy. I had some counseling by relatives to take something more practical. They didnít know what you could do with astronomy when you got through. But I didnít take that too seriously. I donít know why, quite. In general I wasnít that independent a kid, as a teenager. I didnít have an awful lot of self confidence in most things. But in this, I guess, I guessed correctly.

DeVorkin:

Were you ever swayed by your relatives? Were there ever any serious attempts on their part to persuade you not to take astronomy?

Spinrad:

I donít think they were very serious. There were half-hearted attempts. They just advised me to at least have some background in something in the business world, so that if astronomy didnít pan out, I could go into something or have some kind of failback position. I tended not to take it very seriously, and after a while they got tired of saying it.

DeVorkin:

It was definitely the business world that was the alternative in their minds.

Spinrad:

I think so. Thatís the world that they knew.

DeVorkin:

OK. Yes. How about religious instruction, did you have that?

Spinrad:

Yes, I had some religious instruction, got a bar mitzvah at age 13, in the Jewish tradition. I more or less fell out of it to some extent after that, mainly because it was time-consuming and it didnít really turn me on that much.

DeVorkin:

How serious was your family?

Spinrad:

Semi.

DeVorkin:

Were they orthodox, conservative, reform?

Spinrad:

They probably started orthodox and became reform. My family now I would consider reform. We practice in a half-hearted way, my wife somewhat more seriously than I. It had a minor impact on my youth, but not to any really major extent.

DeVorkin:

You mentioned bar mitzvah. That seemed to come about the time you were moving?

Spinrad:

Just afterwards.

DeVorkin:

I see, so you must have entered a temple here that allowed for a short period of instruction, or were you you examined or what?

Spinrad:

The former. I donít remember any great details, but I had some background already in the East, and I worked at it at 50 percent speed, which was good enough.

DeVorkin:

Was there any serious discussion of reconciling Jewish tradition with going into astronomy? In your family, not in your mind, in your family?

Spinrad:

No. Well, at the age of 13, you had to do bar mitzvah. You can do whatever else you want with your spare time, kind of thing. That was OK, actually.

DeVorkin:

So then there was no statement at that time, that you must make a life decision at 13, and follow it?

Spinrad:

No. Oh no. I would have just laughed at them, anyway. No, no one ever suggested that. I guess it could happen. But it didnít.

DeVorkin:

It does happen in some families.

Spinrad:

Yes, well, it didnít happen to me, which I guess is very fortunate. Well, I didnít have an awful lot of pressure from people. I mean, occasional hints to do this, to do that, but, I donít know why, but they didnít put a lot of pressure on my life. I donít think that was true of all of my cousins, other kids a little younger or my age, at various stages in their lives. I think they may have had considerable pressure put on them occasionally, but I never did. Or I didnít regard it as pressure, which is very fortunate. I think I put more pressure on my kids than was put on me. Maybe thatís good, and maybe itís not.

DeVorkin:

Well, completely out of context then chronologically, what kinds of pressures do you put on them?

Spinrad:

I donít know, but Iíve put on my oldest son, whoís now 16, considerable pressures about doing things that I want him to do, and utilizing his summer, this summer, for example, in a more efficient way than just sitting in the house studying chess magazines.

DeVorkin:

Chess magazines?

Spinrad:

Yes. Thatís his kick this year. Itís very much out of context. These pressures, as far as I can see, are water off a duckís back. Heís ignoring me completely successfully so I might as well stop.

DeVorkin:

Are these pressures to find some particular job?

Spinrad:

Oh, to do something constructive, more constructive, this summer. I think heís gotten as much out of the chess as he can.

DeVorkin:

Do you go farther than just something constructive? Do you actually suggest something to do?

Spinrad:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

What are these suggestions?

Spinrad:

Oh, ďGet together with some of your friends in a band.Ē Heís also a pretty good drummer. That I thought he would like. And he sort of does, but in a very halfhearted way. Well, letís get back to the main theme.

DeVorkin:

Well, anyway, itís relevant to you.

Spinrad:

It probably is. Iím not very successful at putting on a mild amount of pressure. I donít think I really over-do it. But I donít remember a lot of pressure being put on me. Or at least I canít recall it now being particularly odious.

DeVorkin:

Was there any music instruction in your family?

Spinrad:

No, too bad.

DeVorkin:

You never followed an instrument?

Spinrad:

Well, I donít have a very good voice, although I like to sing in the shower. I remember one horrible incident in public school in New York, when I was perhaps ten or a little younger. They had just some general singing of all the kids in this big assembly in public school, and the monitor, as it was called, some teacher walking up and down the aisle, told me to sing very quietly because I had a terrible voice. And that really hurt. I didnít like that much. But I obeyed. It was probably true, you know, but it was a harsh thing to say to a child.

DeVorkin:

An absurd thing to say to a child.

Spinrad:

Well, I guess so. Anyway, that bothered me for years and years. Now, my family tells me to sing quietly and I do the opposite. I enjoy teasing them. But I didnít ever have any musical instruction, and I probably wouldnít have taken to it very well. Very recently as a Fatherís Day present my family bought me a miniature organ, and I havenít been very good at working on it in the evening, but really want to try to do that sometime this year. I donít have any great talent in that direction. I like to listen to music. But I donít produce it very well.

DeVorkin:

You mentioned the opera.

Spinrad:

Yes, that probably turned me off. I donít even like opera that much now. I like classical music very much, that is new in my life, the last ten years. I donít know classical music but I sure love to listen to it, especially driving or observing, if possible.

DeVorkin:

Yes, observing is really enjoyable that way.

Spinrad:

Yes, thatís the real place for it.

DeVorkin:

More fun with music.

Spinrad:

Yes, it really is.

DeVorkin:

OK, well, letís go back. Weíve identified that you definitely had astronomy in mind, coming to Berkeley. Did you go to the degree of actually coming over here to talk to anybody about what kind of astronomy youíd get coming to Berkeley?

Spinrad:

No. I had some self confidence, but not that much. Coming out to see someone like O. Struve — whom Iíd heard of at that time. I guess he was the only astronomer that I really knew existed, and was sort of within reach. I think the only thing I ever did — I was sort of a semi-amateur, as much as one could be in San Francisco, as a teenager, and that was also variable, but occasionally, I would do things, like I remember once, seeing some fireball, I guess, and reporting it to what was then called the Studentsí Observatory here, I phoned in some comments on it once. Probably I was a sophomore or a junior in high school.

DeVorkin:

Did you get any reaction?

Spinrad:

Not much.

DeVorkin:

I see. In Leuschnerís time, of course, they would have been very interested.

Spinrad:

Yes. This was a little late.

DeVorkin:

Did you talk to Cunningham here at all?

Spinrad:

This phone conversation was presumably with a graduate student.

DeVorkin:

I see. I know those phone calls.

Spinrad:

Yes. Well, it wasnít a complete putdown. But I knew Struve was around. I knew he was a famous person from reading SKY AND TELESCOPE. [1] But I didnít come over to talk to anyone. I didnít have that much confidence.

DeVorkin:

Would you say that SKY AND TELESCOPE was your primary contact with astronomy, through your grade school years?

Spinrad:

Oh yes. Besides the Planetarium, which I think was minor.

DeVorkin:

Well, that was the Hayden.

Spinrad:

Yes, and then I went to the one in San Francisco, which was fairly new then. That was a little bit minor league, but still fun.

DeVorkin:

Your comment is interesting, actually. What do you mean by that, minor league?

Spinrad:

Oh, it just was new, not fully developed. All around it were other things which were kind of fun, aquarium, other things not astronomically oriented, just because they didnít have enough in astronomy, nor did they realize that it was a good thing to push. They were new. I just went there for the shows, and I probably learned some things and enjoyed looking.

DeVorkin:

Did you ever go to the Chabot Observatory here?

Spinrad:

Not in those years.

DeVorkin:

Did you know it existed?

Spinrad:

Yes, but I didnít have easy transport.

DeVorkin:

Yes, the Bay is something of an inhibition.

Spinrad:

A 15 year old kid, you know, doesnít have wheels.

DeVorkin:

Right.

Spinrad:

I didnít really feel like going on the bus. I think I went to the East Bay very rarely, as a teenager. I went to see the Oaks and the Seals play, a couple of times in Oakland. I really loved sports and baseball. Thatís when I got my first real introduction to athletics, sports, and I like it very much. The most therapeutic thing in my life is, what activities I can participate in, and listening to games. Iím a Dodgers fan from way back. I didnít play baseball until I came to the Coast. My coordination was kind of crummy, as a kid, too. I wasnít all that healthy. But California improved both those things. And I tried to play baseball, football, in high school.

DeVorkin:

Did you take an active role in sports?

Spinrad:

I learned how to play the normal American games, football, baseball, basketball, after coming to California. I had one cousin a couple of years younger, my fatherís brotherís boy, who was two years younger than I, and we played these things on the school yard. Then when I got to high school, I gradually got coordinated enough to participate a little bit in baseball, and in football, without any great success at that level. I was still behind. Then Iíd pick up games in the school yard and play. By the time I was a senior in high school, I pitched for the junior varsity, with, you know, mixed success. But it was fun, whether I did well or not. I really enjoyed it. And I played a little bit of baseball in college also, you know, with somewhat mixed success, not real great. But I always thought I was better than it worked out.

DeVorkin:

In your passive interest in sports, did you follow statistics, follow the records of any particular individual?

Spinrad:

I followed the Dodgers with a blind allegiance. Thatís an emotional thing, sure. As far as statistics, batting averages and things, a little bit, but not to the point where I could tell you what Carl Furillo hit in 1946, and how many guys he threw out at base. No, I was never that enamored with statistics, like Alan Roth, who is a super-statistician in baseball. I remember a few things, but that kind of mathematics didnít interest me.

DeVorkin:

OK. Letís move on to Berkeley then.

Spinrad:

Fine.

DeVorkin:

You mentioned Struve, and you mentioned also that you hadnít any great desire or urge to come over and talk to these people when you were applying. So what were your first impressions of Berkeley when you got here as a freshman?

Spinrad:

It was big. It was impersonal, as I expected. And it was understandable, which I wasnít sure. It was a slight cultural shock.

DeVorkin:

Did you actually live over here?

Spinrad:

The first quarter, first semester then, I commuted to San Francisco on the Bay buses, which was OK. And then after that, I shared a room. It was one of these bizarre little attic rooms, with a friend, who also lived in San Francisco, and had then started in pre-med. Heís now a physician in San Francisco. Well, my room-mate and I also shared some interesting non-academic adventures. That was fun. I sort of got into the collegiate spirit. Dropped the academic stuff just a little bit, and had a good time, actually, when I was a sophomore and junior.

DeVorkin:

What were the specific organizations you belonged to or activities?

Spinrad:

I didnít belong to an awful lot of formal organizations. Oh, at times I may have joined one thing or another. I wasnít much into politics, for example. I scorned it. I was amused by it. I was into sports to some extent. I played baseball with marginal success. In the summer time, I worked at various camps. My freshman year, I worked at the Lair of the Bear, which is an alumni-sponsored camp in the Sierra, which I now attend, actually, every year. We are going next week, though in a different role. That year I was a dishwasher and pot washer, which wasnít an awful lot of fun, but it was a good chance for a city boy to get out in the country, and thatís when I first sort of learned to love the mountains, which now I do very much.

DeVorkin:

Was this your first job, actually?

Spinrad:

Full time, yes. Well, Iíd had summer jobs before. Besides being a newsboy, which I did through high school, every summer and occasionally in the winter but not full time. Then in the summers, one year I helped a guy who had a bad back carry around a cartload of watch bands to sell. Sort of a strange summer job. And then toward the end of the summer, I got to help him with the sales and the administration of the watch band chain — competed with Spidel. It eventually went under. That was kind of fun.

DeVorkin:

Thatís an interesting job.

Spinrad:

Strange job, right.

DeVorkin:

This wasnít a streetside sort of thing?

Spinrad:

No, it was much classier than that, it was wholesaling. Heíd go around to the better shops and places, as far as Fresno, though more likely in the Bay Area, most of the time.

DeVorkin:

Iím interested actually in developing how you supported yourself or how you were supported during your college years.

Spinrad:

It didnít cost much, but I earned some money in these summer jobs, almost enough. I had some savings, which I used. And I ended up bringing my laundry home quite often. It just didnít cost much to live. I donít remember what a typical year at Berkeley cost, but I would think it was well under a thousand dollars.

DeVorkin:

Thatís including your room and board?

Spinrad:

Yes. But not including meals, for example, that I would have at home. Then in the summer I would earn probably two-thirds of that.

DeVorkin:

And it was always at the camp?

Spinrad:

No, the next year I went to the City of Berkeley Camp, which is in Cazadero in the redwood country. Thatís near Gurneyville. And there I was a counselor, with absolutely no experience, which was kind of fun. I did that for three years. Itís the City of Berkeley Camp, for kids of age about seven through approximately 16.

DeVorkin:

What was the social background of the kids?

Spinrad:

Oh, all sorts. It wasnít underprivileged or anything. It didnít exclude anybody. It was for anybody.

DeVorkin:

It was a very definite social thing for you to do.

Spinrad:

Yes. Very much so. That was a great place to meet people my age from, you know, somewhat different backgrounds. It wasnít necessarily university-sponsored, although a few of the other people in jobs like mine were in fact undergraduates, because it was a reasonable job. I donít remember where it was advertised, it was somewhere around the campus, must have been. I went down to the City of Berkeley office without any great expectations of getting a job, and got it. And that was fun, because you could do different things. For example, I would take kids on an overnight hike. I never did that before. And I loved it. It was an outdoor life, of course, which I liked very much.

DeVorkin:

When you did start experiencing outdoor life, at night, of course, you could probably start seeing the stars.

Spinrad:

Yes. Right. And I utilized that. Weíd do things like star walks, at all these summer camps, and it was appreciated, because there wasnít that much cultural experience. Yes, thatís a good point to mention, Dave. The sky was dark and it was an obvious thing to include in our activities.

DeVorkin:

Again, out of chronological context but in context with what weíre talking about, are you following up anything that Von del Chamberlain is doing from the Aerospace Museum with ďAstronomy in the Parks?Ē

Spinrad:

No, I donít know all that much about it. Iíve seen some fliers.

DeVorkin:

This is again merely a grass roots interest that you had, you just wanted to get out there yourself.

Spinrad:

Yes. It was mostly to get away from the city myself. And get away a little bit from the fairly heavy routine of a fairly heavy undergraduate program in the physical sciences. I didnít do any technical or difficult work in the summer. I just forgot it and enjoyed those three months, or 2-1/2 months.

DeVorkin:

OK. Concerning the technical and difficult work at Berkeley, let me ask another general question. The Korean War was going on pretty much during your college years.

Spinrad:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

Were you at all considering volunteering, or was there any fear you might have had in having to lapse your studies to be drafted? Or what was the general attitude that you had, and also amongst your peers?

Spinrad:

I think my peers, or people just slightly older than I was, were quite concerned about being drafted, at the time. I donít know, it didnít bother me all that much. It was a nuisance. But I figured Iíd be deferred, and I was. I went in the Army, however, after my undergraduate work. Weíll come to that.

DeVorkin:

OK, then, weíll talk purely about internal matters at Berkeley. In your first year, did you take any astronomy or physical science?

Spinrad:

Yes, I took, of course, some mathematical courses, Introduction to Calculus, I hadnít had that before. I took that and survived it. I took Struveís elementary astronomy, which was probably slightly beneath the level of something I could have taken, but there was in fact not much alternative. If I didnít take that, it would have been two years before Iíd had an astronomy course.

DeVorkin:

Was it part of the major?

Spinrad:

Not really. It was more than a ďcourse for poetsĒ or non-scientists. It was much meatier than the elementary course is now, and it lasted for a year. But it wasnít a demanding course, where you had to use higher mathematics or any great physical intuition.

DeVorkin:

What year was this, that you took the freshman course?

Spinrad:

1951-52.

DeVorkin:

What text did you use?

Spinrad:

I donít remember.

DeVorkin:

There was a specific text?

Spinrad:

I donít know. There probably was. But it was mostly his notes. Struve could out-pace any text. I donít think he used his own text, which was probably just coming out then.

DeVorkin:

Have you maintained your notes, do you have them?

Spinrad:

I donít know if I have them. That would be nice, wouldnít it?

DeVorkin:

Yes, very nice.

Spinrad:

I have notes from my senior year, from a Harold Weaver course, still, which are very good. At least the course was very good. I think the notes are still useful. I donít think I have much older than that.

DeVorkin:

Did you have any personal contact with Struve in your freshman year?

Spinrad:

No. He was just kind of awesome.

DeVorkin:

That was your immediate or eventual feeling about him?

Spinrad:

Not eventual. Immediate. I mean, later on as a graduate student, I got to know him a little bit before he went to Greenbank, and then it was very different. But here, he was sort of distant, super father figure, and I think he probably preferred it that way.

DeVorkin:

Did he give lectures in the big lecture hall of the old Leuschner Observatory?

Spinrad:

Thatís exactly right. Thatís where it was.

DeVorkin:

An old wooden building?

Spinrad:

Yes. I liked those old buildings.

DeVorkin:

I remember seeing him in one of those buildings, once, Ď57. Was his course full?

Spinrad:

It was probably half full or more. It might have been full.

DeVorkin:

Did you make any acquaintances in that course with people who were also intending to be astronomy majors?

Spinrad:

I donít recall making any, now.

DeVorkin:

There was no nucleus, no hotbed of a few students very interested?

Spinrad:

If there was, I didnít join in, for some reason or other. It seems kind of strange. There may have been, but I didnít partake of it, if there was.

DeVorkin:

Do you feel, taking his first course, and meeting this man, as lecturer, in this capacity, was a stimulation for you?

Spinrad:

Yes, although it wasnít extremely strong.

DeVorkin:

Did you have second thoughts about astronomy?

Spinrad:

No, I never had any negative second thoughts. I liked it. It was generally positive. But it didnít inspire me for hard work for a year or something like that. It just didnít have the impact that, looking back on it, you might expect it to. I donít know why. It was a good course. I guess I got an A in it.

DeVorkin:

Iím trying to identify the cause for the maintenance of your interest in astronomy.

Spinrad:

You havenít come to it yet. There are some things that I can recognize that I think were. It wasnít this course. Now, Struveís influence came later. But it wasnít this basic course — which I liked. I guess it could have been negative. It could have worked out badly. It could have turned me off astronomy forever. It didnít do that.

DeVorkin:

But all these years, since New York, youíve maintained the interest in astronomy, and yet it has been almost a passive thing.

Spinrad:

Thatís right.

DeVorkin:

There doesnít seem to be one particular element in the astronomy, in the realm of astronomy, that turned you on to the whole field.

Spinrad:

Thatís right. Itís kind of strange, isnít it? It wasnít any one book. It wasnít any one object in the sky. It wasnít any collection. I canít identify any particular thing, either.

DeVorkin:

Did you feel claustrophobic in Brooklyn, by any chance? Did you want to get out and get away from everything?

Spinrad:

Yes, but in a vague sort of way. I didnít really know what else was there.

DeVorkin:

Beyond Brooklyn?

Spinrad:

Yes, right.

DeVorkin:

You didnít take any trips far out on Long Island?

Spinrad:

Oh, rarely.

DeVorkin:

Not at night.

Spinrad:

No, not at night.

DeVorkin:

But you did see the Milky Way during blackouts during the war?

Spinrad:

Yes, right.

DeVorkin:

Thatís something you remembered.

Spinrad:

Yes, I did.

DeVorkin:

OK. Well, then, you took primarily physics and math.

Spinrad:

Oh yes, a horrible number of courses, all the years, a lot of physics courses, a lot of math courses. I did pretty well at the start. Harder ones, I didnít do as well. The Aís shifted to Bís. Occasional sprinkle of a worse grade. But not real bad. I was, you know, serious, but not an incredibly intense student. There would be times when I would devote less effort to things that I didnít like very much.

DeVorkin:

What areas would those be?

Spinrad:

Oh, I remember a differential equations course, I got a bad grade. A weak C. A gift C, I guess, or worse.

DeVorkin:

Well, were you identified as an astronomy student?

Spinrad:

I donít know, it varied. I remember one of the teaching assistants in an astronomy course, probably the course doesnít exist anymore, but it was sort of like a practical astronomy course, where you learn to use the archaic instruments that were around in the old observatory. One of my teaching assistants was Ken Franklin, the guy who discovered the radio bursts from Jupiter.

DeVorkin:

— right Ė-

Spinrad:

He was a TA at the time, finishing his graduate course, and he was a nice guy. I remember talking to him a lot. One of the few, probably the only teaching assistant I really remember. I donít know if he remembers that I was in that role, or not. I remember there was some practical exercise on measuring the positions of the moons of Jupiter. Over a night, you could see the motion. One of them came out retrograde. Obviously wrong. I donít know what I did. Something screwed up. So he wrote back some note on my paper — I knew it was wrong — but I reported the observation.

DeVorkin:

Was it straight discussion of changes of position and separation?

Spinrad:

Oh, this must have been, yes, it was just measurement.

DeVorkin:

You didnít go as far as P2=a3?

Spinrad:

Uh-uh (no). Oh, I knew that was relevant, but no, we didnít do that. This was just a short term observation. Then he would write some amusing, not really very hostile, remark, ďInteresting, if true,Ē Ė- ďInteresting anyway,Ē — kind of thing. But he was patient and fun. Iím not sure it was very inspirational but I remember probably identifying with him, as an undergraduate, lower division level, a little bit. When I took upper division courses, then I got to know professors a little, a little bit more.

DeVorkin:

At this time, had you done any work yourself?

Spinrad:

No. There just wasnít time.

DeVorkin:

There wasnít any time. You didnít work during the school year, then?

Spinrad:

No. There just wasnít enough time for me. I was taking what I thought were hard courses. I thought I didnít really have time to do them, and Iím glad I didnít. And I was playing baseball in the spring. Thatís time consuming.

DeVorkin:

Do the physics and math courses now sort of blend together, or are there any of them that really stand out in your mind? As being influential, interesting? You mentioned differential equations.

Spinrad:

Well, that was fairly horrible. I think the physics courses were never that bad. But I didnít get Aís in all of them. I got a mixture of Aís and Bís. As they got harder, I think probably my grades tended to be a little worse.

DeVorkin:

Did you ever stop and wonder about your degree of dedication to astronomy? Did anyone ever talk to you about what it took to become an astronomer?

Spinrad:

No, I donít remember ever having a discussion or a lecture about that. I had my own doubts occasionally. But they werenít extremely strong. Just minor worries, that I wasnít quite up to it.

DeVorkin:

OK. Moving on to when you did become identified with the astronomy department, that would be in your junior and senior years?

Spinrad:

Yes, a little bit more, although it still wasnít extraordinarily strong identification. What I did during those years was get a permanent key checked out to the 5 or 6 inch refractor, so I could use that at night, and just look at Mars. There was a close opposition of Mars in Ď54, was one of them. Ď56 I was in the Army, I didnít see that very well, but in Ď54, there was one, and it must have been pretty good. I remember getting up at 3 in the morning, dragging my room-mate out in his pajamas, ďLook at Mars!Ē with the telescope. Of course, the seeing wasnít all that terrific, heíd sort of grumble and go back to sleep.

DeVorkin:

Well, you did have a lot of excitement, making direct observations?

Spinrad:

I sort of liked that. I guess, you know, it was pretty clear at that stage, even to me, although I maybe didnít know it in those words, that I was more interested in observing than in theory.

DeVorkin:

What were your courses like then, in your junior year?

Spinrad:

I donít remember the one I had as a junior. In my senior year, I had what was called Astronomy 117, which is an introduction to astrophysics, that Weaver gave, and that was a very good course. It was really hard. But I thought it was very, very good for us.

DeVorkin:

Was it a year course?

Spinrad:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

And it was the entire realm of astrophysics, starting with radiation theory, going all the way through?

Spinrad:

Well, astrophysics as it existed in the early fifties, which was a Hynek-type level.

DeVorkin:

You used Hynek? [2]

Spinrad:

We didnít use that as a text, but looking back on it now, Iíd say that that Hynek astrophysics level is just about where we were. Thatís pretty solid, for a senior course. And they had some practical things in it, because Harold Weaver at the time was working on radial velocities, so he gave us some rather difficult problems involved with that, which I thought was a dirty trick.

DeVorkin:

Why?

Spinrad:

Well, itís just too hard. Heíd assign something, with a week to go, you know, in the course, when you have to study for all your finals and everything else, and we had to do this monstrous problem.

DeVorkin:

Were these problems like, method of Lehman - Files?

Spinrad:

Oh, we did all of those, yes. Yes, we did both of those, and then the radial velocity thing was his own thing. I think he was working on Trumplerís data then. Iím not sure. Anyway, overall it was a super course, one of the best courses Iíve ever had in my life. Although it was rigorous and hard, and I may not have liked it every day, because it demanded work. After that I realized that just working hard, I could do it all and I could understand it all, and I liked that, a lot.

DeVorkin:

Did you begin studying with a particular group of students at that time?

Spinrad:

Only a little bit. I was mostly a loner, as far as astronomy goes. I knew some of the other students, of course. Classes were smallish, ten or less.

DeVorkin:

During this period, Ď53, Ď54, Ď55 Ė- itís a really exciting period, looking back on it. People started thinking they understood what the HR Diagram was all about.

Spinrad:

Right. That did not filter back very well to an undergraduate.

DeVorkin:

What did filter? What do you recall as being especially exciting about astronomy, as you really began to learn about it?

Spinrad:

Well, certainly astronomy then was stellar astronomy. Planets were not emphasized at Berkeley. I knew them from the old days and elementary courses and amateur astronomy. But planetary astronomy was in the doldrums then anyway. It was pre-Sputnik, pre-space age. Galaxies were too hard and difficult, and nobody at Berkeley worked on them. So it was just stars. So I guess the important things were stellar masses and stellar basic characteristics, and the fact that you could learn a lot from the classic binary techniques. Henyey had probably not quite arrived, or if he did, he didnít teach any courses to undergraduates. That came later.

DeVorkin:

If thereís any question about who came when, we have a reasonably complete staff list here.

Spinrad:

Let me take a look. I was taking a course from Helen Pillans, for example, Roger Lynds was just a student then, I remember him being around. Well, I remember S. Einarson, of course. Hamilton Jeffers was around occasionally. I remember one meeting, one astronomical meeting — maybe that was later. There was an AAS meeting in Berkeley at roughly that time. I can remember sort of sneaking in and hearing Sandage giving a talk.

DeVorkin:

This was when he was very young, of course.

Spinrad:

It must have been. It must have been while I was an undergraduate. It might have been about Ď54, Ď55. It was at the old Leuschner. Iím sure itís recorded in the ASP. It might have been an ASP meeting but I think it was AAS. I remember going to that and understanding a little of it and seeing all these big wheels. Some of them, you know, I knew by name.

DeVorkin:

Was he talking about HR Diagrams or cosmology?

Spinrad:

I donít recall. But it was already clear that the guy was someone to remember. I just donít remember anything else about that.

DeVorkin:

As you were going through your undergraduate years, did your teachers ever talk about Lick Observatory and what was happening up on the mountain?

Spinrad:

Well, they talked about it, and we had in fact a couple of field trips to Lick. I had been up there as an undergraduate, but not very much and I didnít know the astronomers there, except for those few that occasionally came down to Berkeley, I might recognize. For example, I guess Shaneís face was slightly familiar. But I donít remember talking to him, as an undergraduate.

DeVorkin:

Were you aware of the 120 inch being built?

Spinrad:

Not really. Perhaps from reading SKY AND TELESCOPE. Even today, when somethingís being built, Iím not excited about it. When itís done and someoneís going to use it, then Iím ready. But with the tractors running around, or someone in a distant laboratory grinding a mirror — that wasnít interesting to me.

DeVorkin:

Not the building of it, but the fact that it would be here and eventually useful.

Spinrad:

No impression, till I was a graduate student. Iím sure it was going on. But it could have been on the moon for all I cared. Now, of course, I could not answer it the same way. But you know, Iím not very excited about the MMT[3] which is being built. But Iíll bet Iíll be excited about it next year.

DeVorkin:

Youíre not involved at all in it?

Spinrad:

No. I just gave that as an illustration of something thatís ongoing.

DeVorkin:

Yes, I see. Are you skeptical at all about its possible performance?

Spinrad:

Only slightly. Theyíll get something. Maybe it wonít be perfect right away.

DeVorkin:

Will it be OK for spectroscopy?

Spinrad:

It damn well better be.

DeVorkin:

It wonít be good for direct work?

Spinrad:

Thatís harder. Maybe, maybe not. But even if itís good for spectroscopy, the people there who are using it will make very good use of it. And Iíll try it myself. Perhaps. Weíll see. Iíll talk about it later.

DeVorkin:

You gave me a hint that I havenít really hit the truly important events or elements that stimulated you in astronomy, yet.

Spinrad:

It didnít happen until very late. I was very late in getting going.

DeVorkin:

Well, in your senior year, of course, you had to be thinking about what youíd be doing after.

Spinrad:

Yes. It was depressing.

DeVorkin:

It was?

Spinrad:

I was tired of school, for one thing. I made half-hearted applications to places where you could get jobs with a bachelorís degree — like the Naval Observatory, for example. And that was rejected, because of insufficient experience. Those were the exact words. That was perfectly correct, of course. So, I volunteered for the draft. After my last summer at Cazadero, I went in the Army in September of 1955.

DeVorkin:

Now, did your professors have anything to say about your decision?

Spinrad:

I never asked them. My family thought I was nuts.

DeVorkin:

What about after the fact? Your professors must have been aware — Weaver?

Spinrad:

I donít know. I never asked them. I donít think they were ever that impressed with me as an undergraduate. In my senior year I was sort of a B plus student. They probably had better ones. Oh, they knew who I was. There werenít that many.

DeVorkin:

So you didnít participate in anything in the Berkeley department as an undergraduate that would have singled you out?

Spinrad:

No. I wasnít that outstanding, nor was the interest in undergraduates by the professors outstanding. They did know me. But it was a big enough department even then. I donít think I left any vast impression, positive or negative. At that stage, I was 21 years old. The year before 21, I more or less knew what I wanted to do, but was only maybe 50 percent committed, I liked it; by the time I got through Weaverís course I knew I could do it.

DeVorkin:

Do what?

Spinrad:

Do astronomy. Understand astronomy. Probably do it myself, although Iíd never tried.

DeVorkin:

Still it wasnít well defined.

Spinrad:

But it wasnít well defined, the area wasnít defined. It wasnít the super-motivation that I had later. Also, at that time Iíd discovered girls. There was considerable distraction.

DeVorkin:

In your senior year?

Spinrad:

Well, junior and senior year. Especially my senior year. I met my wife, or the one who would be my wife. We didnít get married till later and that caused considerable disruption.

DeVorkin:

Did you meet her socially?

Spinrad:

Yes, met her socially, and had an initial involvement which left me bewildered and discouraged. I was a very immature person then. And that kind of screwed up my attitude toward working hard and studying. I sort of moped around half the time.

DeVorkin:

In your senior year? How close was it to the point where you were to graduate?

Spinrad:

I think it was about in between. I donít remember exactly.

DeVorkin:

Were you thinking about what you would do after graduation by that time?

Spinrad:

Yes, a little bit. I think a lot of it was the lack of complete commitment, some social disruption, and bewilderment, and also somewhat being tired of just going to classes, which was all undergraduate education really was. These were the reasons that I decided to volunteer for the draft. And of course in those days, they were drafting heavily, and it was very easy to get into the Army immediately. So I volunteered for the draft, and then the majority of the draft went to the Army.

DeVorkin:

You didnít try to get into specifically any research-oriented part of the Army?

Spinrad:

No, I made no attempt to do that, although in fact, thatís what happened later. The Army is often accused of being completely crazy and idiot. That must be to some extent true, but not to the point where they didnít recognize level of education or at least some interest. So after basic training at Fort Ord, which was not much fun at all, it could have been a lot worse. Now, the strange thing is, I had damaged ligaments in my knee, playing baseball up at camp, the month before, and I went into the Army a week after having the cast removed from my leg, which slowed me down a bit, and people were making fun of me there. And then I got really mad, because I figured I was, you know, at least a semi-athlete. I really worked hard on the physical end in basic training, and you know, did reasonably well at it, and I sort of liked that. I learned to hate the Army quickly enough. I donít like regimentation much. So I started kicking myself around the block for being in such a rush to get in, once I was there. But it also is another way to grow up. A completely different environment. Now I wasnít in an academic environment, with my roommate, you know, where we could just go down to La Vals for a beer whenever we felt like it —

DeVorkin:

La Vals ďCantina.Ē

Spinrad:

La Vals, a beer place. On Euclid, up the road —

DeVorkin:

The room-mate you had, was this the same room-mate all through college?

Spinrad:

Yes. Well, there was another guy. Sometimes there were three or four of us, but this basic guy was always here. His name is Herbert Konkoff, and heís a urologist in San Francisco. His father then ran a butcher shop near where I lived in San Francisco.

DeVorkin:

Where did you live?

Spinrad:

In the Marina District. Itís to the west of North Beach, between North Beach and the Golden Gate Bridge, on the Bay side.

DeVorkin:

I know where that is.

Spinrad:

Fairly well-to-do part of the city.

DeVorkin:

OK, so you were disappointed in what you found in the Army because of the regimentation.

Spinrad:

Yes, I didnít like the regimentation. But then, I wasnít going to admit that I was a fool. I made the best of it. You know, then I was in with a bunch of uneducated kids, basically from Texas, and theyíd go out on their first weekend pass, get drunk, puke all over the barracks.

DeVorkin:

What did you do your first weekend pass?

Spinrad:

Went out, walked around, saw seaside Monterey. I didnít get drunk and puke all over the barracks. I had to clean up half their mess. So I sort of grew up a little bit in the Army, I think. Basic training lasted three months. It was sort of fun, I enjoyed it actually because to some extent, it was a thrill to crawl, under the rifle fire over your head, on the ground, in the mud. Thatís all right, I cleaned the rifle afterwards.

DeVorkin:

Were you thinking about getting back to astronomy at that point?

Spinrad:

Not yet. A little later. Not yet. Not for the first few months. It was a thrill, an adventure, although somewhat onerous. But it was OK, it was a different sort of life.

DeVorkin:

Did you maintain contact with your girlfriend while you were there?

Spinrad:

Yes, off and on, but it was very sporadic. It had its ups and downs. I never could understand that. I kid her about it a lot, now.

DeVorkin:

Well, the situation has changed.

Spinrad:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

OK. After basic training, what were your options, if you had any?

Spinrad:

None. They were decided for me. I went to the Army Map Service in Washington, and at that stage of the game I realized in fact I was in a program to measure positions of places, at the time, mostly islands in the Pacific, by occultation, and they had actually used lunar occultations for position measurements. All you need is a good timing over an arc, where the star is occulted by a particular longitude of the lunar limb. And at the time, George Preston was in this, (Bruce) Stevenson was in this, and several other people who were on the fringe of astronomy, but those are the most famous guys.

DeVorkin:

Stevenson?

Spinrad:

Bruce Stevenson of Case, Preston of course now at Hale. These people were all in the same approximate age group as I, a little bit older. They had had their graduate or undergraduate training interrupted by presumably being drafted against their will, into the service. It was somewhat after Korea, but not to the point where the military had forgotten Korea. In fact, our training was all bayoneting guys that looked like Koreans. Itís a very racist business, you know Ė- ďget that gook.Ē Iím sure it was unofficial. But the lower echelons, the guys who had just come back from Korea, and who had seen their friends killed, told me this right away and it made a very strong impression. Of course, for all I knew, it might flare up and we would go back there. There was a lot of real brainwashing, now that I think of it in retrospect — horrendous, then, even with someone who had a background that should make him think, and you can imagine what it was for these, you know, kids from a little town in Texas whoíd only gone through high school, and go in the Army at 17. It takes them over completely. I guess, how else can you make the military work, I suppose, in the infantry level.

DeVorkin:

The interesting thing is that you ended up with other astronomers, in the Army Map Service.

Spinrad:

Astronomers, physicists and engineers, in Washington. I didnít like the part in Washington, D.C. very much. I donít know, we were just sort of getting ready to go out in the field, and it wasnít much fun. I donít remember what we did, it was sort of a waste of time business.

DeVorkin:

Did you meet Preston then?

Spinrad:

No, I didnít meet him till later.

DeVorkin:

I see.

Spinrad:

I may have met him very briefly. He was just getting out, at approximately the time I went from Washington out to the field, which was in the Marianas Islands, actually. So, I was a couple of months in Washington. I didnít like it much. I met OíKeefe and other guys that ran the show. I knew I was going to be — and that was all right. But what I did enjoy was getting out in the field, playing with some hardware, and visiting some of these exotic places. The first headquarters I went to was on Guam, and we were housed in a place with the Coast Guard and the discipline was lax, which I loved. You could sleep in the morning, and it wasnít a military life—snorkel in the afternoon. There wasnít anybody around to supervise us. We were sort of lost in the cracks. A couple of Army guys who did technical work on a Coast Guard base. We didnít really fit in, and people didnít know what to do with us, so they left us alone. That was great. We had one guy who was a radio technician, who would listen to the radio, and weíd hear the Dodgers games, from the States. And we did some work. And I liked the astronomy, because I learned something. I learned how to do photoelectric photometry there. Mostly by myself, and reading the documents that these people had done.

DeVorkin:

Occultation photoelectrically done?

Spinrad:

Yes, we had a photoelectric recorder, and we would set it up, on a star, before occultation, and wait for the lunar limb to occult the star (weíd always pick the ones on the side where the moon was dark — it helped a lot). Actually one of the few constructive things I did myself was to develop an offset guiding situation, so youíd get an egress from the dark limb, which no one had ever done before. It was hard because the telescope was jury-rigged, but I developed an offset technique. That was my own contribution to it. I almost electrocuted myself building a power supply for this. On Guam, we were close enough to power so there was no problem. There always has to be two points. The other point was some smaller island to the East, or West, so it could be anywhere from Taiwan through the whole Philippine chain, or some other small island in the Marianas and Carolinas. And this led to all sorts of interesting adventures. We would go out in small dilapidated planes, or a small boat, or a Japanese boat. The Japanese had a parallel effort which they later abandoned. It was a kind of adventure. You would go to places that were effectively uninhabited by Western people since the war, and you could see the debris of the war occasionally. Sometimes they were places that were bypassed. It could be a pristine place, with a few natives. Weíd leave them what leftover water we had. Weíd give them what they wanted, fresh water.

DeVorkin:

Thatís interesting.

Spinrad:

Bizarre, at times.

DeVorkin:

You got into electronics?

Spinrad:

Only a little bit. I was never good at electronics. I mean, you did what you had to do to make it work. I put batteries together in series.

DeVorkin:

This was all DC?

Spinrad:

Oh yes, sure. Archaic stuff. We had strip chart recorders that didnít work very well.

DeVorkin:

Did you actually have 1-P-21ís?

Spinrad:

No, they were the older version, 931 phototube. But they were multipliers, ancient variety. And they worked.

DeVorkin:

How faint did you go?

Spinrad:

It was tough to push below 6th magnitude. Mainly because you needed a fast time response.

DeVorkin:

Did you ever wonder about the uses of occultations?

Spinrad:

Only a little bit, in the sense that we empirically discovered some binaries. We knew right away that that was going to be useful. I donít know if that had been theoretically discussed. It must have been, somewhere, but I didnít know about it.

DeVorkin:

Did you wonder about angular diameters at that time?

Spinrad:

Not very seriously. It was sort of in the back of my mind, but not very seriously, and the average star occulted is not very big anyway.

DeVorkin:

What kind of talks and bull sessions did you have with Preston and Stevenson?

Spinrad:

Unfortunately, they were out by the time I was over there. We got a different group of guys, who were fairly technical. I just knew they had been in it. And then later on, it became more significant, because Preston had a big impact on my career when I started graduate work, because then he was a third year graduate student, and Stevenson was up at Lick. It was kind of a funny coincidence.

DeVorkin:

Yes, a coincidence. You spent at least the full 2-1/2 years?

Spinrad:

Two. Well, actually less a month — I got out a month early. So I could start back as a graduate student. Now, about the time that I was getting into doing this, and enjoying the empirical end, I also then realized that I really wanted to do astronomy. And the motivation just grew and grew and grew, the last year I was in the Army, to the point where I had my parents ship me textbooks out to the Pacific. I was in the Philippines for a while, and I spent a little time back in California, because we were tying Hawaii to California then. Ed Upton who used to be at UCLA, you remember him Iím sure, was in at the same time I was, and he was on Ulithi at the same time I was in the area.

DeVorkin:

What island?

Spinrad:

Ulithi is a small island somewhere near Pilau, and he must have gone native — he probably was the only white man on the island — that was too much, I donít know if I would like that. He was there for a long time. He was a little ahead of me, but not as far away in time as Preston and Stevenson. I talked to him on the phone. I knew he was an astronomy major, I didnít know where he went to school.

DeVorkin:

Ed Upton?

Spinrad:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

Princeton, part of the time, I think. I may be wrong.

Spinrad:

I donít remember where he was. In any case, I knew he was an astronomer.

DeVorkin:

So you had a lot of contact with other astronomers?

Spinrad:

Junior astronomers, or people who had backgrounds in something else, and just did it because they knew some electronics or had some interest in doing it. We didnít get into real reductions to get positions and things. All that data went back to Washington. But in fact we did get some recognition. People realized, after a while, that the best reward we could get would be a pat on the back saying, ďYou did a good job.Ē Good jobs were rare. The weather was against us. The equipment was balky. After a while we got some pride in doing it right, although it was hard.

DeVorkin:

This was the first actual astronomical research that you did?

Spinrad:

I guess you could call it research. Yes, it was. I really loved it.

DeVorkin:

It was active work and you were contributing.

Spinrad:

Yes. Thatís right. And that turned me on a lot.

DeVorkin:

That was it, the active participation.

Spinrad:

That was part of it, yes. I donít know. Iím not sure. That was certainly part of it. I didnít think it was going to be earthshaking astronomical research. And I still didnít really like the Army. But at least it was a good use for my time, and I was learning things. I tried even to study physics, but that was harder, because that was in a vacuum. You know, a hot place on a little island, you go off and sit under a tree and read a physics book. I tried to get something done, but generally, it wasnít the most motivating place to do problems. I would fall asleep reading.

DeVorkin:

What astronomy books were sent to you?

Spinrad:

Russell, Dugan and Stewart.[4]

DeVorkin:

Did you ask for that?

Spinrad:

Yes. I think so. That was a review. I mean, Iíd gone through that before.

DeVorkin:

I would have thought that you would have been beyond that.

Spinrad:

Yes, I probably was, but I do remember having that out. I had a physics book on atomic physics. This is an ancient thing. My gosh. ATOMIC PHYSICS by Finkelbergh. 1950, McGraw Hill. This had been out in the Pacific. Well-worn. Then I had Quantum Mechanics by Schiff, Ď49, Stanford series, itís probably updated. These I had as an upper division student — and they were sent out to me — I remember carrying them back. I probably opened them occasionally. But by that time, I did know I wanted to continue, and wanted to apply to be a graduate student, and I did apply, some, I donít remember how long before I got out of the Army, half a year, perhaps, in early Ď57, and to my surprise I was accepted at Berkeley. I donít remember applying for a lot of places. I probably just figured Iíd try Berkeley first and see what they said. I didnít really know what other graduate places were good, and I figured, if they said no, here, Iíd figure out something else to do. Some other place.

DeVorkin:

In astronomy?

Spinrad:

In astronomy.

DeVorkin:

You were definitely thinking of astronomy.

Spinrad:

Yes, I think it would have taken several rejects to have me reorient myself completely.

DeVorkin:

Were you thinking about reorientation at all?

Spinrad:

No. I thought, well, if things get really bad, I will.

DeVorkin:

But not at that time.

Spinrad:

Not at that time. I thought I would face that if I had to.

DeVorkin:

Right. So then you were accepted back into Berkeley.

Spinrad:

Yes, and the only complaints they had were some of my physics grades, especially the ones I did poorly on. Well, math and physics grades were not too super. But in those days, the criteria were still a mixture of recommendations, and many things that they were now. And, you know, I guess there were not that many people applying anyway. For entering class. In my class, I think there were only four people.

DeVorkin:

This was just at the Sputnik era?

Spinrad:

Just before. Sputnik came half a year after that, or a quarter of a year after that, and the impact of that, of course, took some months, or years. So in fact, it was still a couple of years ahead of the bigger push towards popularizing astronomy and getting large numbers of students into it.

DeVorkin:

Struve was still here.

Spinrad:

Yes, it was still much, much the Struve era. But Henyey was here. Phillips was here, Weaver. It was really the bunch that you knew at Berkeley. Still the glory years in stellar astronomy.

DeVorkin:

Right.

Spinrad:

But with more yet to come, but we couldnít realize that at the time. So I started graduate work in September of Ď57. Since there were about four students in my class, the total number of graduate students in the place was perhaps 20 or 25, of which maybe 15 were around all the time. But the nice thing was when I came, that we were all stuffed into those old buildings in I think, T.11, a now nonexistent temporary building, that had been temporary for 30 years or whatever.

DeVorkin:

— Iím jumping around again — Those old buildings, was anyone unhappy with them?

Spinrad:

Oh God, they were the greatest thing that ever happened to anyone!!

DeVorkin:

You liked them.

Spinrad:

I loved them.

DeVorkin:

Why were they destroyed?

Spinrad:

Some of them, to put up modern buildings. Some of them just because they thought theyíd build something later and never did. Maybe one or two of them were structurally unsound, but I doubt it.

DeVorkin:

Was it a departmental decision to pursue different quarters, or was it a university decision?

Spinrad:

Oh, it must have been university. The department would have been very happy to stay there forever. At least I donít know, I guess so.

DeVorkin:

Well, there were some amateur meetings that I came up to, that year, summer of Ď57, in those buildings. Marvelous.

Spinrad:

Yes. They were great.

DeVorkin:

OK. I want to identify a little more of that sort of spirit and flavor that it gave astronomy, from the quarters that you were in there. Here you were in a big metropolitan university and then you were in your own little compound.

Spinrad:

Oh, the rest of the metropolitan area could have been nonexistent and we would never have known it. This was before, almost a year before I got married. I was there all the time, a 20-hour day, and I loved it. There are a couple of reasons why. First of all, it was good to get back again, and then, I met people that motivated me a lot. Not just to take the courses, which were OK. I still didnít really just want to take course work, although your first year as a graduate student, there isnít a lot of choice.

DeVorkin:

Right.

Spinrad:

So I said, damn it, Iíll do well in the courses, even if I donít like them all that well. Some of them were good, some of them werenít.

DeVorkin:

Who were your fellow graduate students?

Spinrad:

Dave Wood, who is now at Goddard, Jack Forbes, who was at Wisconsin. Iím not sure he is any more. And, I wonder if Bob Innes was in my class? Iím not sure. He may have been a little ahead of me.

DeVorkin:

OK, were there other graduate students who became your close associates?

Spinrad:

Yes. Thatís the most important story, and the most interesting guy, the one who had the biggest impact on my career, is George Preston, who was then just — well, Iím going ahead a little bit in time, but say, a half year into it — was just starting his thesis. Iím not really quite sure why he took me under his wing. Maybe I took him, put the wing over me or something. But heís a very inspirational guy, and certainly was then. Weíd sit around talking. His project was to study the spectra of RR Lyrae stars, and he noticed that they were different. Theyíre not all the same. Although the RR stars were supposed to be, you know, pure population II. Pure population concepts were well entrenched. And well, I sort of got into the group that then didnít just talk about instruments and how you do something, but why. That was a big change. And George is a very inspirational guy on a personal level, too, and he got me interested in doing some photoelectric photometry of RR Lyrae stars. I had known a little bit about what a photomultiplier did and knew how to use it, and this connected to something that would be useful, in understanding the galaxy.

DeVorkin:

Did you determine the period and also color?

Spinrad:

Yes. Thatís right.

DeVorkin:

And of course with the a, b and c characteristics of the light curves?

Spinrad:

Right, and eventually blanketing and metal abundance differences, but you know, I think initially we didnít realize what we were getting into.

DeVorkin:

These photometers that you used and the equipment, was that all here initially?

Spinrad:

Yes, it was Leuschner-built by Roger Lynds and maybe to some extent by Phillips on the 20 inch telescope, in the old room 3 of the old Leuschner Observatory. It was a good place to work at night, when the lights were more or less down. The big buildings werenít constructed again. You could in fact, do reasonably good photometry in Berkeley. Sandage in fact, flattered me many times, years later, I guess it was. I took it as flattery, saying he didnít believe you could do photometry like that at sea level, but it was all differential, and it came out fine, and I thought it was easy. You couldnít go very faint. Didnít have to.

DeVorkin:

Well, RR Lyrae are not too faint.

Spinrad:

Oh, theyíre between 8 and 11, and that was not hard.

DeVorkin:

Was it a seasonal thing, because of the fog?

Spinrad:

No. I was around 20 hours a day and I would take what I could get and I got a lot. And that did sort of amplify my interest, because I could see very quickly that it was going to lead to something useful, so that, plus Prestonís influence, plus a little bit of awareness that, you know, you could be a book student and take courses in the daytime and work on your own thing at night, and as long as you didnít mind working hard, you could get a lot done. It really started solidifying my optimism, that I could do well.

DeVorkin:

Did you consider the question with Preston and the others about how much better you could do the observations up at Lick?

Spinrad:

Only a little bit, the first year. It still seemed somewhat remote, and it would be hard to take courses, and go up there. But a little bit more after that, because some of the students then started spending summers at Lick, and described how much better things were. At the moment, though, it wasnít that easy to get on a telescope there. You could only get on Tauchmann[5] easily which I was warned was not going to be that easy. The Crossley[6] was the main instrument on the mountain, in 1958. The 120-inch wasnít quite ready.

DeVorkin:

Well, that is an important thing to try to recapture. Amongst the graduate students, what was the awareness of the availability of Lick and so onÖ

Spinrad:

The advanced graduate students were definitely aware, and they were encouraged to use it — by the Lick faculty and the Berkeley faculty. It depended on the individual. Bidelman, for example, was always encouraging people to come up. He probably pushed harder on students to come up than anybody else. I don1t know how he was regarded on Mt. Hamilton, but at Berkeley he was regarded as sort of a good will emissary from the mountain.

DeVorkin:

Who was not regarded as such?

Spinrad:

Just people we didnít see, because of personality or other interests. Merle Walker, for example, he was kind of shy, although actually, once you got up there, he was reasonably helpful. Shane was just about finishing at that time. He was still director, my first year at least, possibly my second. So I didnít really go up to Lick to observe, though I probably went up to visit in my first year. However, starting the summer afterwards, after Iíd been around a year, then I started using Mt. Hamilton. I also got married in August of Ď58, after a year.

DeVorkin:

What helped make that decision?

Spinrad:

Oh, I donít know, my wife thought I was more mature. And I was more mature when I got out of the Army. Things just clicked better. Iím not sure there was any logical reason.

DeVorkin:

Were there financial things? How were you supporting yourself?

Spinrad:

I saved a lot of money in the Army. I didnít have a job at Berkeley my first year, because I figured Iíd have enough to do. The second year, I got a job working for Henyey, as an R.A. doing menial stuff, in his then beginning stellar evolution program. Learning how to program. Even more menial stuff, taking cards to the computer and loading them in. Stuffing things through the 701 computer. And I didnít really like it that much, but it was all right. I mean it was sort of a gift, since I didnít do that much for him. And he very gradually started telling me what it was all about. This was before I took a course in stellar structure from him, although I did do that a little later, so, Iím not sure I earned my keep. My wife went to work. She had worked as an IBM key puncher in the city, for, oh, a couple of companies, and then she got a job at Cal-pac, Del Monte Foods and had to commute from Berkeley to San Francisco, which wasnít much fun, but it paid well.

DeVorkin:

Cal-pac?

Spinrad:

Yes. I donít know why they used that name. Now they donít use it any more. Anyway, Del Monte — peaches and beans — she had to key punch all that, inventory kind of thing. Very boring kind of job, I suppose. Anyway, you know, it still was not very expensive to live.

DeVorkin:

You could live together as cheaply as one?

Spinrad:

Oh yes. Things were really dirt cheap in Berkeley. And we had a crummy little apartment, it was really lousy.

DeVorkin:

Was there any community identification in Berkeley at that time, to the degree of the students organizing co-ops, food co-ops and so forth?

Spinrad:

Not much. At least it escaped my attention. Later on, we moved into the University Village, in Albany. That was a half a year ahead.

DeVorkin:

Tell me a little more about this, was it an informal seminar you had with Preston and some of the other guys?

Spinrad:

No. It wasnít organized. It was just whoever was around at night, which was just us.

DeVorkin:

Who else was around that participated?

Spinrad:

A guy named Charles Stableford, who never really made it in astronomy, when he got his degree from Berkeley he went into industry. Tap Lum, whoís a technician in radio astronomy.

DeVorkin:

No one else with whom youíve maintained any degree of contact, or thought was any great influence on you?

Spinrad:

Yes. Thatís right. By this time I was already doing things better myself, sort of moving along a little bit in time.

DeVorkin:

Already, before your RR Lyrae papers, youíd done a comet or bit which I assume was part of a course? [7]

Spinrad:

Yes, that was part of Cunninghamís course, with Forbes and Wood, classmates. Was that my first paper? OK. Then I did some stuff with Abiyan Kar, who was a post-doc with Struve, but I wasnít all that turned on by it. By this time of the game, I mean, I listened to Struve talk about binary stars, and I had been exposed to that a lot, and a lot of people were doing it, just because it was a favorite Berkeley thesis, do some peculiar binary stars, get the spectrum and maybe a light curve, but somehow it didnít appeal to me very much. Iím not quite sure why.

DeVorkin:

Thatís interesting.

Spinrad:

Itís a very fortunate thing for me, in retrospect, that it didnít. Otherwise I would have just done a Struve thesis like most people did.

DeVorkin:

Right. His influence was still extremely strong?

Spinrad:

Oh yes. And it was good. I can see now that it was a benevolent dictatorship. And he was a great guy. He very much encouraged me to do photometry of RR Lyrae stars, not that he was that interested in them. He had done a little bit of work on them, not much. But basically because he could recognize that it was research, and that I would learn a lot by stumbling around myself. I didnít have a lot of help.

DeVorkin:

But Preston was interested in this.

Spinrad:

Preston was a motivator. But you know, by this time he was just doing his own thing, and very much engrossed in it, and had moved to the mountain.

DeVorkin:

I see, an advanced student.

Spinrad:

Yes. Right.

DeVorkin:

OK, then, as your years progressed, through Ď58 and getting married, how did your attitudes change and form?

Spinrad:

They just intensified. I worked hard. I guess I worked harder those years than almost any time. And started getting Aís in all my courses, to my amazement.

DeVorkin:

You maintained coursework through the second year also?

Spinrad:

Yes, but then, you know, I gradually began shelving it, after that stage.

DeVorkin:

At some point there was a comprehensive exam?

Spinrad:

That was later. In those days, it was all horribly later. We had to put in at least 2-1/2 years before we got the exam, so that there was no chance to get kicked out earlier if you werenít making it. Oh, I guess, if you were an abysmal failure in courses, you might have been advised to leave, but most people had to wait a long time, and there was a big horrible oral exam, but it wasnít in fact till about — I know when it was, exactly. It was April Foolís Day of 1959.

DeVorkin:

April Foolís Day?

Spinrad:

Yes, 1 oíclock in the afternoon. I recall a lot about that. I have a horrible memory. Just the trauma of an exam, because, damn it, I knew that I had proved myself already, why did I have to do this? But you had to. It was horrible. In thought. I mean, in fact, the exam was not bad at all.

DeVorkin:

With the entire faculty?

Spinrad:

No, it was a subset of about five people.

DeVorkin:

Who were they?

Spinrad:

Henyey was sick. He was replaced by Mort Roberts, who was a post-doc. That was strange. Of course, Iíd studied all of Henyeyís stuff. Mort didnít know any of that.

DeVorkin:

So you got different people.

Spinrad:

Completely.

DeVorkin:

Was Roberts doing his radio work by that time?

Spinrad:

Just getting into it. Or at least thinking about it.

DeVorkin:

Did you have Struve?

Spinrad:

Struve had just left.

DeVorkin:

OK, thatís right, he left to the NRAO.

Spinrad:

Thatís right. George Wallerston had started as a young assistant professor. He was on it. Weaver. Somebody from mathematics. Iíve forgotten his name.

DeVorkin:

What about the statistics group in math, could it have been one of them?

Spinrad:

No. The mathematician asked me something about orbits but I had forgotten. That was at the end of the exam luckily and I had clearly passed by that time.

DeVorkin:

They did have people from other departments then, in on the exam?

Spinrad:

Yes, there was a physicist, Bob Brown, working on cosmic rays.

DeVorkin:

These were physicists and mathematicians, who did have astronomical interests?

Spinrad:

Well, the mathematician probably didnít. Iím sure it bored him to death. But yes, I think they attempted to get mathematicians with astronomical interests, and they probably had Betty Scott from statistics at times, but she wasnít on my committee.

DeVorkin:

So what kind of experience was it to take the oral?

Spinrad:

Well, the horrible thing was the months before, waiting. Because your friends had occasionally [failed]. Half of them had failed, you know. The end of their life in astronomy.

DeVorkin:

If they failed, what happened?

Spinrad:

Usually they left. After wasting all this time. It was incredibly traumatic. Just the preparation was awful. The only thing that saved your neck, saved mine, was, youíre given a topic to discuss in depth, beforehand, so you gave a mini-seminar for 45 minutes or so, and then they asked questions about that for 15 or 20 minutes, and then questions on anything for the rest of the two hours. It made a three hour exam. But anyway, that initial place where you had the chance to start off yourself, talking about something that youíd worked on hard, gave you considerable advantage.

DeVorkin:

A very nice thing.

Spinrad:

Yes. Otherwise, it would have been a disaster. For everyone. It would have been for me too, probably. But I canít remember the topic very well. I remember everything else. The topic was something to do with the nucleus of the galaxy, and maybe, dynamics in the galactic center. This was just after the discovery of the expanding 3 Kiloparsec arm. By Oort. No one had really any idea what the galactic nucleus was, except they knew about where it was. I donít really remember what I did, but I synthesized as many areas as I could into that, including some extra-galactic ones, although I still didnít really have a great interest in extra-galactic astronomy.

DeVorkin:

Well, you were given the topic, or you chose it?

Spinrad:

I was assigned a general area, of the topic, and I could do anything I wanted with it. I had a pretty free hand.

DeVorkin:

Who assigned the general area?

Spinrad:

Probably some committee, but Weaver was the person that told me. It was probably assigned by committee.

DeVorkin:

And the general area, how was that defined, galactic structure?

Spinrad:

No, it was more specific than that — nucleus of the galaxy.

DeVorkin:

I see. Because thatís a very interesting thing in your later career. You followed the nucleus of various galaxies.

Spinrad:

Yes. I think thatís coincidental.

DeVorkin:

I see. So the traumatic experience did not immediately polarize your interests?

Spinrad:

I might have failed it. Perhaps.

DeVorkin:

It would have.

Spinrad:

Well, of course, I would have been out. Prospectively out.

DeVorkin:

Did you go as far as looking up what I guess basically was Maarten Schmidtís thesis at that time, on the model of the galaxy?

Spinrad:

Iím not sure that was out yet. No. It probably was. I think it was out. No, I dealt more, I think, with just things at the center, and did some considerable extrapolation of what was in the literature, and also Munch had just come out with some observations of non-circular motions in the center of M-31. And I fed that in, and talked about mass loss from stars and stuff. It wasnít bad. I mean, you know, false modesty aside, it was a talk slightly ahead of its time. Some of it was baloney, I suppose. But some of it was good.

DeVorkin:

What was their reaction?

Spinrad:

I couldnít tell. Stone-faced. They were good actors, or it wasnít as good as I thought, I donít know which. Anyway, I survived it, and by that time, I could feel, you know, that at least it wasnít going to be a complete disaster.

DeVorkin:

Anything on galaxy evolution in your talk?

Spinrad:

No. Evolution was unthought-of.

DeVorkin:

Mort Roberts, of course, eventually, not too long after that, did quite a bit?

Spinrad:

A long enough time afterward. This was very, very early in the stage of anybody doing anything or thinking about galaxies, then, especially at Berkeley, where there had never been any great interest in extragalactic astronomy. And the questions were, you know, the battering, afterwards, was not that bad either.

DeVorkin:

Did anyone particularly stand out?

Spinrad:

Oh, I remember Brown asking me some questions about how you figure out the energy density of a magnetic field, a conjectured magnetic field in the halo of the galaxy. I wouldnít have known the answer except somebody else had been asked a similar question in the previous exam, less than a year before, and we kept a dossier on the exam questions.

DeVorkin:

Oh, you did?

Spinrad:

All the students did that.

DeVorkin:

And this was mainly how you prepared for it?

Spinrad:

No, but that was one particular thing that I remember, was the striking similarity in questions, and I knew the answer right off, without having any great physical intuition for the problem. That was lucky. There were some bad ones too. But that didnít hurt.

DeVorkin:

This was from the observational end, using Faraday Rotation or anything like that?

Spinrad:

No, I think it was just some general things about the magnetic pressure and so and so. Kinetic.

DeVorkin:

In other words, a straight physics problem.

Spinrad:

Yes. Right. The mathematician asked a half-hearted question on mechanics, and I told him Iíd forgotten all that, and he didnít seem to press it. Luckily it was the end of the exam. Everyone was tired, probably wanted to go and do something else.

DeVorkin:

I see. OK.

Spinrad:

So, anyway, that was a nice hurdle to be over. And after that, I started fishing around for a thesis.

DeVorkin:

Did you get your MA at this point?

Spinrad:

About Ď59. Yes, but I donít really remember why. I think my wife encouraged me to do that, in case some disaster happened, but it was quite unnecessary.

DeVorkin:

Right, OK, because you listed it, that was Ď59, but that helps me identify when you did your thesis.

Spinrad:

Right.

DeVorkin:

And you identified galaxies as your interest in research at Berkeley between Ď60 and Ď61. Now, what is the tie-in here?

Spinrad:

I donít know quite how it got started. But I read a paper by W. W. Morgan and N. U. Mayall, and talked to Mayall quite a bit about galaxy spectroscopy, and I was just sort of horsing around with things to do. The person I talked to most then was George Wallerstein, and just because he was young faculty who was around all the time; a young single guy that was around as much as the graduate students. And he would go to lunch with us, and he didnít feel any peer pressure, to avoid the students or anything. That was good. So I learned a lot of spectroscopy from him, and got interested in it, naturally. Up to that stage, you know, all I had done was photometry. I was sort of continuing that, photometric work on a variety of things. But that had reached the point where Iíd exploited the Leuschner instruments, and the Lick instruments to some extent, and I wanted to do something a little bit different, and I wanted to learn some spectroscopy.

DeVorkin:

So you had used Lick by the time of your exam.

Spinrad:

Thatís right. I had just about gotten into that. But it was hard to get time on the Crossley, and I could use the Tauchmann, but it was clear the Tauchmann wasnít very good, and it was a bother to use it. But it was still kind of fun because it was a different instrument, and Merle Walker had taught me a few different tricks of the trade.

DeVorkin:

In other words, Walker was your primary advisor?

Spinrad:

No, not really. It just happened with the Tauchmann that he was the poor unfortunate assigned to show rookies how to use it. I donít remember who showed me how to use the Crossley. But I had used it initially with a photometer. I donít remember who taught me that. It might have been Gerry Kron. I remember talking about the results on RR Lyrae stars with Dr. Kron because he had started something quite similar but never pushed it very hard, and he was sort of interested.

DeVorkin:

He was working completely in photometry at that time?

Spinrad:

Oh yes. This was maybe a year before image tubes. He probably was thinking about these other things, but I didnít notice it.

DeVorkin:

You had no contact with people who were using the big refractor?

Spinrad:

Very little. I mean, I knew what their programs were, but it wasnít the kind of thing that interested me. The only contact I had was with Jack Forbes, who was doing some work with Bidelman on Be stars, and would get spectra with the refractor.

DeVorkin:

So you did no spectroscopy with the refractor?

Spinrad:

Well, I didnít do it myself.

DeVorkin:

I see.

Spinrad:

You know, I sort of had second hand touch with it, but that wasnít enough to learn anything.

DeVorkin:

Well, how did your interest begin to jell in the direction of galactic research, as youíve indicated here?

Spinrad:

Probably because I tried it. I tried getting some spectra in the red with the Crossley, which was a jerryrigged thing.

DeVorkin:

This is on the nuclei of galaxies?

Spinrad:

Yes. We had an old prism spectrograph, that Mayall built himself in the thirties.

DeVorkin:

The nebular spectrograph?

Spinrad:

Yes. And using that in the red is not the right way to work. But we fooled around with it. Nick (Mayall) played around, and what we ended up doing was putting in an extra prism, which I had to do by hand every time I came up. It always kind of worried me a little bit that Iíd drop the thing and destroy the nebular spectrograph — not that I ever did. The only thing I ever dropped on the Crossley mirror was a tin of aspirin. I saw my career fading, as the aspirin went down, slowly went down the tube — broke open, little tin thing, you know, about the size —

DeVorkin:

Pocket-sized.

Spinrad:

Yes. Aspirin spilled all over the mirror. I rushed down, went down, picked them all off — got the cigarette butts off at the same time — I didnít feel so bad, when I saw those cigarette butts.

DeVorkin:

T. Kinman wasnít there at the time, was he?

Spinrad:

No, they werenít Kinmanís cigarettes. No, he wasnít quite there yet. No, I donít know who they were. Probably Charles Perryís. Oh yes, thatís another thing, I should have mentioned, how could I ever forget Charles? C.L. Perry, now at Louisiana State University. One of my classmates. Maybe he was half a year ahead of me, Iím not quite sure. Or heíd gone to Indiana as a graduate student for a half year before coming to Berkeley. I donít know, anyway, we were close enough that we considered each other classmates. Iíll never forget him. Good old Charlie. Levity!

DeVorkin:

He spent an awful lot of time as a graduate student, did he not?

Spinrad:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

I see. Because I do remember him as a graduate student.

Spinrad:

Yes, thatís right. I got done before any of them. But that was just lucky.

DeVorkin:

Now, are you trying to tell me that there was no coincidence between your topic for the oral, and the thesis?

Spinrad:

Well, maybe there was, but I donít remember it at the time. Maybe I have a mental block against it. I donít think there was. It acquainted me with the literature, thatís all.

DeVorkin:

Yes, who did you talk to? Who was your influence in continuing this study?

Spinrad:

Initially, Nick Mayall. But then he went to Kitt Peak when I was half through, and after that, it was Albert Whitford, a rather strong influence.

DeVorkin:

Well, both of them of course had done a lot of work on galaxies.

Spinrad:

Thatís right.

DeVorkin:

Mayall had a direct and very very long contact with cosmology studies.

Spinrad:

Yes. At the time, you know, I didnít think about particularly cosmology. I was interested in stellar content of galaxies and what you could learn about the nearest bright galaxies, from just doing simple things that hadnít been done before.

DeVorkin:

In your mind, the two studies were completely separate.

Spinrad:

Separate enough.

DeVorkin:

So, looking at the stellar context of galaxies, how did you proceed?

Spinrad:

Well, later on, I could tie it together mainly because of Sandageís influence. But initially, I donít think, in my own mind, at least when I started it, I didnít envision this as any more than just sort of a closed end thing. I wasnít at all sure it was going to be a good thesis, either. I had an awful lot of advice about choosing a thesis. Wallerstein had some ideas on various kinds of stellar spectroscopy projects, in which I was mildly interested. At that time I knew I liked spectroscopy and photometry.

DeVorkin:

Were you switching over to spectroscopy?

Spinrad:

Very gradually.

DeVorkin:

Yes. At this time were you starting to work on metal abundances?

Spinrad:

No. Not until much later.

DeVorkin:

Not yet. So that explains why I didnít see any of your super-metallicities interests in the early sixties.

Spinrad:

No, that was late sixties, much much later.

DeVorkin:

OK. So in the early studies in nuclei of galaxies, what were you trying to find?

Spinrad:

How many and what kind of stars were there, thatís right, stellar population content. Metal abundance stuff was just getting off the ground, anyway, at Cal Tech.

DeVorkin:

There were no photometric systems on metal content?

Spinrad:

B. Stromgren was just inventing his system up at Lick, or using it for the first time, one summer when I was there.

DeVorkin:

He was there for a summer?

Spinrad:

He was there for at least a summer, because I remember observing with Perry and Stromgren, just to watch them observe, see if I could learn anything.

DeVorkin:

Perry was working with Stromgren at the time?

Spinrad:

Yes. Perry was sort of Stromgrenís assistant for quite a while. The Stromgren-Perry Catalogue or something like that.

DeVorkin:

Oh, I wasnít aware of that.

Spinrad:

Well, it was sort of accidental but they, you know, worked very well together.

DeVorkin:

What were your impressions of Stromgren?

Spinrad:

Oh, he was a smart guy. But at that stage of the game, I was realizing and getting enough confidence to see that I, you know, could do anything that he could do. From the empirical side, obviously. Not necessarily from the theoretical or intuitive. So I was impressed, but unimpressed, sort of simultaneously. But he was a nice guy. It was fun to talk to him at lunch.

DeVorkin:

That was your primary contact?

Spinrad:

Yes. I didnít know him all that well.

DeVorkin:

OK. Were there any surprises in your thesis?

Spinrad:

Yes. Some of them have proved wrong. But sure. I mean, I found that the sodium D lines and TiO bands and a lot of things were very strong in the spectra of galaxies. Now, weíre pretty sure itís an abundance effect, of time. We didnít realize you had to get another free parameter, so here was this large content of lower Main Sequence stars, that were giving off say half a line. In fact, I built a model that satisfied all the available constraints. That sort of started a nice controversy.

DeVorkin:

You had a later paper on modeling.

Spinrad:

Thatís right. This was a different part of my thesis — which, whenever that Ď62 paper was.

DeVorkin:

Yes, ďStellar Populations in the Nuclei of Galaxies.Ē [8]

Spinrad:

Thatís right. Thatís my thesis. It was very qualitative, mostly.

DeVorkin:

Yes, it was within that year that things really did change in the direction of your research for several years.

Spinrad:

Yes, I got a job.

DeVorkin:

Is that the reason? In other words, there was a direct correlation?

Spinrad:

Yes. It was easy to get a job then. I had a choice of three things. I wanted to stay in California, for personal reasons, mostly. We already had a kid. We didnít want to take him away from the grandparents. And I like California. So, letís see, I got my degree in August, went down to the IAU the next week in August Ď61. The paper came out in 1962, you know, with the usual publication delay. There was a meeting in Santa Barbara the week before. I got my degree a week earlier, and they told me without any notice, on the bus on the way down, that I was going to give a talk the first day at this IAU symposium. Man, was I scared! You know, really a fresh PhD. They didnít give me any warning. And I got smashed.

DeVorkin:

Who asked you to do that?

Spinrad:

Morgan.

DeVorkin:

What was your contact with Morgan?

Spinrad:

Well, he knew what I did, and he didnít like it much.

DeVorkin:

Yet he asked you.

Spinrad:

Yes, well, heís a good guy. I wasnít sure whether it was a mousetrap, or just an honest thing. I ended up getting clobbered, for the wrong reasons, I think.

DeVorkin:

Who clobbered you, Morgan?

Spinrad:

No. He was courteous. Just other pundits. You can read about it if you want to. I donít want to read it again. Ivan King remembers that he thought it was funny — this young twerp trying to fight the masters.

DeVorkin:

Where is this discussion?

Spinrad:

Oh, I donít know. Itís not even a paper. It just comes out in the discussion of one of the papers in IAU Symposium #15. The bitter pills and stuff donít come out in the written work.

DeVorkin:

Well, are there any verbal recollections you have that might be aided by looking at the Symposium Volume?

Spinrad:

Yes, but Iím not sure I want to.

DeVorkin:

It would be interesting from the standpoint of knowing whatís in other peopleís minds.

Spinrad:

All right. Well, it was all innocent enough. It isnít painful now, but it was a little less than kind. I mean, to really take on a kid the way they did. And I was wrong in a lot of my conclusions, for different reasons, but the guys that commented on me —

DeVorkin:

Was it the abundances?

Spinrad:

Sure, but nobody really knew, although Chip[9] kind of guessed at this, for the wrong reasons. Why donít you just read it? I donít want to talk about it. At the time, by the way, I can mention one other thing, which is slightly out of context.

DeVorkin:

Yes, go ahead.

Spinrad:

OK. Struve had, before his departure, sent me down to Mt. Wilson to get some plates for him, and also to check out some stuff on RR Lyrae stars with A.H. Joy, I guess at that time even, he was slightly retired, but was just a great guy and a famous person, but not too big to talk to a young kid whom he didnít know from Adam. So I brought a letter of introduction down, so I could get in the gate, and see Joy, and you know, carry away some spectrograms for Struve, which was my main purpose to drive down. And Joy and other people down there were terribly nice and courteous, and I met him, and I met Armin Deutsch — particularly those two people, through my graduate years, were very helpful. Then I was not afraid to write them later. Sandage, I got to know a little later than that, through a variety of strange circumstances. Weíve had our interesting ups and downs, Allan and I — and I really like him a lot. The first time I met Sandage, this is even more out of context, itís a strange thing. He was a referee for my first real, what I thought, big paper, on RR Lyrae star photometry, in Ď59. He was the referee. I figured it out easily enough, since I got a letter from him that had word for word almost the refereeís comments. The paper, you know, came back with all sorts of caustic comments, most of which were very good, in fact.

DeVorkin:

Chandrasekhar sent that back to you?

Spinrad:

Yes. Oh, it worked out fine. It was just, you know, the first time I had encountered the referee system. It wounded oneís pride slightly, but in fact, almost all the comments were constructive. All of it meant more work, which I did not care to do, but I did it, and it improved the paper. But it was strange, to see the same words in this letter from Sandage, handwritten. So it was pretty clear after ten seconds what had gone on. And that was fine, because it was nice that a great man was slightly interested in your work.

DeVorkin:

Did you keep those letters? I hope you did.

Spinrad:

I donít know. I might have it. Thatís something which I conceivably might have saved. I did a lot of file cleaning about ten years ago, and a little bit more about five, and I may have chucked some of that.

DeVorkin:

I hope you didnít. That sort of material is marvelous.

Spinrad:

You want some of it? If I can find it?

DeVorkin:

— Yes Ė-

Spinrad:

I mean, I donít know what to do with it. When I kick off, someoneís going to throw it out.

DeVorkin:

Thatís fascinating material. The appropriate place is the Manuscript Division at Bancroft, and you have every reason to use them for advice in the handling of your papers. The highest priority is your personal correspondence with those scientists.

Spinrad:

Yes. Thereís a little bit of that thatís useful. I hope I saved some of it. No reason why I would have thrown it away. I threw away doggy stuff. But these handwritten things from Sandage and Morgan and people criticizing my work, I think, I hope, they were worth saving. But they were generally critical enough that I, psychologically, probably didnít think I wanted to keep them. But I think I did keep them.

DeVorkin:

When they are critical like that, it usually exposes their beliefs or their opinions. ďBeliefsĒ is a very strong word to use, but letís say, their state of understanding of whatever it is youíre talking about.

Spinrad:

Yes. Oh, absolutely true, Dave. In fact, generally, in retrospect, theyíve proven to be right, more than I. But I didnít think so at the time. Sometimes they were right for the wrong reasons. It probably is interesting, to keep them. I donít think the pith of it comes out, or the trauma I felt, as a rookie being thrown to the wolves — to some degree — I didnít like it much.

DeVorkin:

Well, certainly, Arp came right out.

Spinrad:

I gave a talk of about a half an hour length, and I summarized it in that one thing, it isnít among my paper.

DeVorkin:

The summary is this: spectral Types of Galaxies?

Spinrad:

No, thatís the contribution by Morgan, and at the end, thereís this little paragraph —

DeVorkin:

— this is your discussion, here.

Spinrad:

This is a one minute summary of what I guess it took 15 minutes for me to talk about. So in effect, what happened is, we almost shared the amount of time, but not the amount of space in the book.

DeVorkin:

Right.

Spinrad:

And I got shelled. I probably wasnít as prepared as I [could have been]. I didnít know I was going to do it. I just came down to visit.

DeVorkin:

The entire discussion actually is directed to you, and then Morgan only later on brought something in, saying, is it possible the metallic lines were weakened in the spectra of the edge-on rapidly rotating galaxies, and he suggested better observations seemed to be a very diplomatic thing to say.

Spinrad:

Yes, it was. Oh, Morgan was a good guy. I sort of regarded him as a slight villain at the time, but he really wasnít. I was just a little paranoiac.

DeVorkin:

OK. Well, weíve identified this, which was an interesting beginning. Now, at that point, you were looking for a job?

Spinrad:

Right. I had three choices.

DeVorkin:

We are at the point where you discussed your graduate research and the reaction to it, and during this period of time, you are beginning to look for a job. Now, I dragged out those IAU pamphlets[10] because I knew that you were here at that time, and I am very interested in having your impressions of the entire meeting, if this is the first session you attended. Did it sort of color your feelings about IAU sessions after that, or what?

Spinrad:

Well, I got a little tired of it. Itís an intense thing, to go to a symposium for four days, and it really is pretty constant, even evening sessions, so that was pre-IAU. The general assembly was in Berkeley the next week. So I came back from Santa Barbara, which is a nice place to have a symposium. And then Berkeley, the next week. I went to some of the sessions. Not all that many.

DeVorkin:

You remarked that you were familiar with the bus breaking down at Lick. Was this quite an event?

Spinrad:

Well, itís a great story that people hear all the time.

DeVorkin:

What is the story? I would like to know more about it.

Spinrad:

Broke an axle, I guess, on one of the hairpin curves. One bus. The second bus survived, and they jammed people in. But a lot of the hardy Europeans, who are used to walking around in the rain, trudged up the mountain in the blazing sun of August. They survived it just fine, although you would think theyíd wilt.

DeVorkin:

That was one of the hairpin turns that was at least several miles still below the summit.

Spinrad:

Yes. Thatís right.

DeVorkin:

That must have been a happy crew.

Spinrad:

Yes, I guess they were. Maybe they were tanked up on something by then, who knows?

DeVorkin:

Was this before or after they went out to Mondavi for the picnic?

Spinrad:

It could not have been the same day. I donít know if it was before or after.

DeVorkin:

OK, you were directly involved in it?

Spinrad:

Oh no, I wasnít an invited participant or anything. I was just a slight ex-graduate student who just happened to be around.

DeVorkin:

Did you talk to people about jobs? At the meeting?

Spinrad:

No, it was already rather late for that. I had by then decided what I was going to do.

DeVorkin:

OK, how did you come to that decision?

Spinrad:

OK, there were, at the time, people found out by word of mouth, or advertisements in journals, about jobs. So I talked to J. Greenstein about a post-doc at Cal Tech, in his abundance program.

DeVorkin:

You had already met Greenstein?

Spinrad:

Iíd met him once, and Wallerstein recommended me to him. I went down to San Diego State to talk to them about a faculty teaching position.

DeVorkin:

How did you feel about that possibility?

Spinrad:

Less good, because I could see that there would be very little time for research there.

DeVorkin:

At that time Clifford Smith was there?

Spinrad:

Yes, thatís right, Cliff Smith was chairman.

DeVorkin:

Was C. M. Huffer there by that time?

Spinrad:

I donít know, I knew he was going to be, but Iím not sure he was there when I went down there to check out the place.

DeVorkin:

I see. They had a 24-inch on campus?

Spinrad:

I think it was just getting ready to move away to some better place. But I knew they had a telescope to do photometry. But I was a little worried that I wouldnít get anything else, except a lot of coursework and an occasional chance to work and do my research in the summer. And then the third job possibility was at JPL. [11] I went down there, when I was in LA for something — also, I applied at one industry. Industries were then advertising for astronomers, getting into the space game, and places like Lockheed and Aeroneutronic were advertising. I also checked out Stanford in a half-hearted way, Bracewellís group, but I didnít think I really wanted to do radio-astronomy, and I didnít have any great background in that, but I figured I could probably learn to do some if I wanted to. But I wasnít that enthusiastic about it.

DeVorkin:

By that time, had Berkeleyís radio work developed at all?

Spinrad:

Just barely.

DeVorkin:

But you werenít involved in that.

Spinrad:

No, I wasnít involved in any of that.

DeVorkin:

That was Weaver? primarily?

Spinrad:

Yes, thatís right. Anyway, in a very short period of time, I got offers from San Diego, Greenstein, and JPL.

DeVorkin:

They all did come through?

Spinrad:

Then the negative ones were Lockheed, Stanford, Aeroneutronic I think, which is sort of halfway between San Diego and LA, and maybe one other place. I didnít try any more distant. A little while after that, actually, I got an offer from Chicago, from Morgan, which was a surprise. That was rather later. Oh, it may have been as much as a year later. I didnít solicit that. That was kind of funny.

DeVorkin:

Morgan wrote to you directly?

Spinrad:

Well, I guess so.

DeVorkin:

So you basically had four offers, San Diego, Cal-Tech, JPL and Morgan later.

Spinrad:

Yes, but at the one time, there were just the three. So I chose JPL, for a variety of reasons. First of all, it paid twice as much as Jesse offered me, a full factor of two, so that was not negligible. And it was something a little different. I have had a short interest span, sometimes, and I wanted to do something slightly different than Iíd done before. Under Greenstein, I would have done abundance work, and it would have been quite good and interesting, I think.

DeVorkin:

1961, Ď61, people were assessing what they knew about the chemical history of the galaxy.

Spinrad:

Yes, it was a good time. That would have been good.

DeVorkin:

And you chose JPL.

Spinrad:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

Was that with E.H. Richardson that you did some work with later on?

Spinrad:

No, actually, he was at Victoria. That was an interesting circumstance. No, there wasnít anybody there that was well known at the time.

DeVorkin:

So you didnít go there to work with someone.

Spinrad:

Thatís right. I sort of went to work with myself. And I had to learn something new. And it turned out that Guido Munch was a consultant there, and he was very helpful, in putting together some facets of astrophysics that Iíd never learned or never appreciated. And also a lot of the tricks of the trade of observing, that are much in the finesse category. I donít know that Munch is known as a famous observer. I think most people think of him as an observer whoís a good theorist, kind of a flaky guy anyway.

DeVorkin:

In what way?

Spinrad:

Oh, there is just sort of one Guido, heís very flippant about a lot of things.

DeVorkin:

Well, in addition to being a strong observationist with extremely strong theoretically oriented thinking, he also was into instrumentation, to a certain extent.

Spinrad:

Yes. He wasnít so very much then, or maybe just the inklings of it, but he knew some techniques in an amazing way —

DeVorkin:

What were they?

Spinrad:

Oh, all sorts of strange witchcraft, of hypersensitizing emulsions, and stuff like that, and I learned a lot from him. And a little bit of extrapolation myself, but most of it came from him. I donít think heís well recognized as a leader in this, but I gobbled it up. Partly because it was fun, and partly because I figured I could use it, and I did.

DeVorkin:

Well, you were working out in the red region, trying to get atmospheric bands and that sort of thing, so you had to do this.

Spinrad:

Yes, so we in fact pushed farther and farther out to the infra-red, doing this. And that turned out to be very advantageous.

DeVorkin:

How did you then get directly into the atmospheric abundances of planets?

Spinrad:

OK. First of all, I had to learn what the literature was like. It didnít take very long. The literature was so terrible. Fragmented. Low quality.

DeVorkin:

Did you go back into the twenties, looking at Adams papers, and that sort of thing? Dunhamís work?

Spinrad:

Yes. I looked at their original plates, too. I had access to the Mt. Wilson files, through courtesy of Bowen and other people. I used all my contacts then at Hale and Mt. Wilson, from before, and you know, I occasionally went down and had lunch with those guys. It was only a ten minute drive from JP.

DeVorkin:

Were the contacts good otherwise, with JPL and Cal Tech?

Spinrad:

No. Well, they were OK until you asked for something, like observing time.

DeVorkin:

Was it a money question, a time question? Envy of salaries?

Spinrad:

A combination of all of those. JPL is operated by Cal Tech, so if youíre at JPL, you would think, naively, that there would be some contact, but it was a one way street.

DeVorkin:

Can you expand on that?

Spinrad:

Sure. I mean, the guys at Cal Tech consulted at JPL — the ones that wanted to — and made useful contributions, and got paid well for it. But when JPL wanted something from Cal Tech, they didnít get it. I asked for observing time, and got almost nothing, until I got in sort of by hanging on Munchís coat tails. It was very unfair. It was mainly jealousy.

DeVorkin:

Jealousy, because of the government support?

Spinrad:

Yes, government support. They didnít want big money in astronomy, and all that kind of feeling. I can sympathize with that.

DeVorkin:

Are you addressing this attitude to Cal Tech or to the Hale Observatory?

Spinrad:

Both.

DeVorkin:

I see. Were they at each otherís necks at that time?

Spinrad:

I donít know.

DeVorkin:

I see, so youíre only aware of the JPL relationship to the axis of Cal Tech-Santa Barbara St.

Spinrad:

Thatís right. I saw it from a myopic viewpoint, pretty much.

DeVorkin:

Did Munch talk about the relation, at that time?

Spinrad:

No, not much.

DeVorkin:

Was he sympathetic to your needs?

Spinrad:

Yes. In fact, I got in through him, by having time assigned to him, and used by me and Lou Kaplan a little bit.

DeVorkin:

Did Lou Kaplan work with you at JPL?

Spinrad:

Yes. I was, in fact, under him for a while. Heís basically a theorist, and it worked out quite well. In fact, later on in the game, the three of us worked together with considerable effectiveness, I think.

DeVorkin:

You were quite some time in this general field, and even after you came back to Berkeley.

Spinrad:

Yes, thatís right. I was at JPL for three years. And it lingered on because it was an interesting field, and by then, of course, the exploration of the planets by spacecraft and more sophisticated ground-based stuff had begun.

DeVorkin:

Right. Were you doing some of this research under identifiable contracts which were there at JPL for the purpose of getting to know the planets better?

Spinrad:

No. I just did it as my own research.

DeVorkin:

Did you have to write proposals?

Spinrad:

Nope. It was kind of a strange thing. The way it worked originally, I didnít know JPL nor did they know me. They were hard up to get anybody who was an astronomer. Even a fresh PhD was good enough. They were pretty desperate.

DeVorkin:

Because there simply werenít people in the field at the time?

Spinrad:

Thatís right. There was nobody in the field. The job market was open. The planetary astronomers were few and far between, and low quality probably anyway. With exceptions like G. Kuiper.

DeVorkin:

Was just going to mention — did you have contact with Kuiper?

Spinrad:

Yes. Not very good at first.

DeVorkin:

Why was that?

Spinrad:

Oh, various professional disagreements.

DeVorkin:

Could it have had anything to do with the fact that you were even vaguely identified with Morgan, by that time?

Spinrad:

No. I wasnít really identified with Morgan. If youíre identified with Morgan, it could have been a lot worse, I think!

DeVorkin:

Thatís what I meant.

Spinrad:

But I wasnít even aware of these hostilities. I was a very naive person, as far as astronomical politics went.

DeVorkin:

You understand that we are not after the hostilities themselves, as much as we are, how they may have affected science?

Spinrad:

Yes. No, that didnít affect me. I think we were just professionally jealous of each other. Well, he wasnít jealous of me, of course, he didnít know me. I was critical of him. It worked out better in the long run. Later. He made fantastic contributions. He was one of the few people who kept planetary astronomy above the sewer level, in the interval, oh, from 1940 to 1960.

DeVorkin:

Well, there were some people, certainly people at Harvard?

Spinrad:

Oh, only a few. A few. But not very many.

DeVorkin:

Now, you saw the field as very fragmented, and Iím interested in how you chose your problems.

Spinrad:

I chose the problems that were the things that I could do, where I could make contributions, not necessarily if they were the most important problems, although one or two of them turned out to be pretty important. But I chose them from a pragmatic point of view — as to what I could do, not as to what needed to be done necessarily. Probably the inverse of what a good scientist would ordinarily do, but, I do what I could do.

DeVorkin:

Well, you needed high dispersion, and you needed telescope time.

Spinrad:

Yes. And I needed bright things, so I didnít work on Pluto, obviously.

DeVorkin:

Right. So you started with major planets, or Venus, and that sort of thing?

Spinrad:

Thatís right, and then finally Mars, which we always joked, would be the least interesting, because the literature on Mars, you know, indicated that there wasnít anything you could do. Luckily, no one really believed that.

DeVorkin:

Well, what was the general attitude towards primarily Adamsís work? Did you actually go even further back in the literature, to Campbellís work at the turn of the century?

Spinrad:

Oh, I was aware of it, but I didnít ever do anything about it.

DeVorkin:

Right. But it was this technique of the radial velocity shifts that you used?

Spinrad:

Yes, Adams and Dunham, I guess Slipher actually invented it. It was used at that observatory. We just did it better, and with, you know, a little physical insight, as to what bands to use, by working at laboratory measurements, with Kaplanís theoretical calculations. He had worked in the earthís atmosphere. We had to know how to do molecular spectroscopy. I could have learned it all by reviewing Phillipsí notes, which in fact I did. I had a course from Phillips, obviously as a graduate student. Everybody did.

DeVorkin:

Now, you produced quite a few papers in that period, while at JPL, on planetary spectroscopy. [12]

Spinrad:

Thatís right.

DeVorkin:

But you really didnít feel that, from your own notation in the bibliography, it wasnít till about Ď66 that you had written and developed some research that was of any great significance?

Spinrad:

The only thing significant done was the work on Mars, which came out in January 1964, by Kaplan, Munch and myself, who discovered water and measured the surface pressure from the CO2 bands. That was the only really significant thing in the planetary era. That set the stage for doing the spacecraft stuff right. The spacecraft work on Mars would have been very badly screwed up, if we hadnít come along when we did.

DeVorkin:

From the nature of the detectors that they would have needed?

Spinrad:

Well, just the first iteration would have been hopelessly off base, for getting the surface density, and the atmosphere and constituents and things. Oh, theyíd have gotten it right the second time.

DeVorkin:

You found something that was about a one-fiftieth the value that Adams had generated.

Spinrad:

I donít remember what the value was. The main thing was that we decided the surface pressure was much lower than the literature had suggested, by a factor of 10. And then, in fact, that was an underestimate. The factor was larger. That was the main contribution. It piques me now, slightly, actually, when you read in the elementary astronomy texts, or even in mildly sophisticated reviews by people that [that should know] that it was all done by the Mariners. But we did it first. And if I may indulge myself in some selfish complaint, thatís a complaint I would like to make. Itís often recognized properly, but generally forgotten now, by most people. In fact, it was done for about $5 at Mt. Wilson on one spectrogram, before Mariner-4.

DeVorkin:

Did you know that Campbell also felt this way in 1910?

Spinrad:

A little bit, but I mostly concentrated on the Mt. Wilson efforts, which seemed to be the ones that certainly impressed more. I didnít know anyone from the Flagstaff group.

DeVorkin:

Right, so it wasnít in your general awareness, or the people you worked with, that this was a longstanding historical problem, even before Adamsís time?

Spinrad:

Well, I knew people had delved in it, but not in a serious way. No, I didnít really appreciate the fact that there was any controversy, or a large history of work from Lick Observatory.

DeVorkin:

Right. The significance in my mind was that it was a longstanding Lick problem, and Campbell had finally, in 1928, believed Adamsís work, and in a sense, he let his own objectivity slip. By that time he was the president of the university here and he was well out of active research. And yet you came around, in a completely different generation, completely separated, and went back and questioned the research again. This is what I find of interest, and I was wondering if you had read the early Campbell papers?

Spinrad:

No. I probably should have. But no, I wasnít aware of them. But the Space Lab guys were going bananas—you know, did they believe the then classic stuff? They were going insane. And they mostly voted, well, theyíd better go along with the new stuff, because it was somewhat more quantitative.

DeVorkin:

Who were these people?

Spinrad:

Oh, mostly engineering types.

DeVorkin:

I see, but R.B. Leighton wasnít involved at all?

Spinrad:

Peripherally.

DeVorkin:

I see. So there still was a question, as to what range to look for.

Spinrad:

Oh yes. I mean, there were great bets, among the people in the field, including me, the date that Mariner-4 went by. By that time I was back here. In fact, I was observing at Lick that day, and they were announcing things on the radio. I knew it was going to come out all right.

DeVorkin:

That was a very strange thing, but I mean, you certainly had the observation, it was a straightforward observation to make.

Spinrad:

Completely straightforward. No, the idea about the pressure, that required a little innovation.

DeVorkin:

Yes, but first weíre talking about the amount.

Spinrad:

Yes, the amount of CO2 and the amount of water — completely straightforward. Our technique was better, because of these tricks that Guido had taught.

DeVorkin:

Why do you think though, that the elementary textbooks emphasize the space research?

Spinrad:

Because itís easier. And itís in vogue. And at least, if you take a later Mariner spacecraft, Mariner-9 and obviously Viking, itís much more precise and detailed. So if youíre going to describe things in a limited amount of space, itís an easier way to do it. But itís historically incorrect.

DeVorkin:

Thatís a very important element.

Spinrad:

Well, itís important from my career, my life, in a way, although I donít know how important.

DeVorkin:

Have you found that in getting money for grants, applying for grants, and that sort of a thing, that sometimes you have to reeducate grant review boards?

Spinrad:

Oh, I would never stoop to that. If they donít know it it is their tough luck.

DeVorkin:

I see. But you havenít been slighted in any way.

Spinrad:

No. Well, not that Iím aware. No, I donít suppose so. I think grant review boards are made up of people that are knowledgeable enough that thereís no problem.

DeVorkin:

That arenít limited to the popular literature.

Spinrad:

Yes. I would certainly hope so. I think in general, thatís true.

DeVorkin:

But it also comes down to the question of space astronomy as opposed to ground-based astronomy. This is a very poignant question, when thereís a tremendous amount of money involved in space research. Iím sure that youíre sympathetic with space research.

Spinrad:

Yes. I think now, itís so much more sophisticated than it was five or six or ten years ago, that the ground-based stuff canít compete at all, except in areas where the space craft donít go yet. Satellites of the major planets. Unexpected phenomena, that one canít predict ten years in advance.

DeVorkin:

Jupiterís magnetic field, that sort of thing?

Spinrad:

Well, that was an interesting comparison, where both the ground and the space craft got more or less the same results. But obviously the space craft, the Pioneers, got more detail.

DeVorkin:

Well, I thought there was a tremendous difference in intensity.

Spinrad:

Oh, yes, but I mean the general, the qualitative explanation. I mean, itís the only direct measurement of synchrotron radiation anywhere.

DeVorkin:

Yes, OK.

Spinrad:

Except in earth laboratories — the only measurement anywhere in situ — and it was completely predictable, although maybe not quantitatively.

DeVorkin:

The position you had at JPL, was this a staff position?

Spinrad:

Yes, it was called senior scientist, in a section that dealt effectively with basic research and to some extent, monitoring instrument contracts. I had a little of that responsibility, but it gradually got waived, because they could see that I was going to make an impact with just doing my own work.

DeVorkin:

Now, monitoring instrument contracts?

Spinrad:

Not so much the financial part of contracts, but just that some instrument that was going to go on some future space craft got built according to the specs that were originally suggested.

DeVorkin:

And you had to make sure that it was going to do what they said it was going to do.

Spinrad:

Yes. I got sort of thrown into something like this, not by choice.

DeVorkin:

I see. How much freedom did you have actually at JPL?

Spinrad:

Extraordinarily large. I was a little worried about that when I went there.

DeVorkin:

You were worried that you wouldnít have it?

Spinrad:

I was worried that I wouldnít have. But it was as free as any academic position could be.

DeVorkin:

I see. And yet you didnít stay there very long.

Spinrad:

No. Because I wanted to come back to the Bay Area, and I had a chance to get a faculty position here.

DeVorkin:

Did you pursue that chance?

Spinrad:

It just came. I didnít ask for it. I just got a call. I got two calls in ten minutes.

DeVorkin:

From whom?

Spinrad:

Wallerstein first. Then the official one from Lou Henyey, who was the chairman then, a few minutes afterwards. Presumably they just got out of a faculty meeting or something, I donít know.

DeVorkin:

Did they ever explain to you why they had singled you out?

Spinrad:

No. I just assumed that they were looking for quality. To be utterly frank about it.

DeVorkin:

Many times, at least now, I find that when positions are open, departments are very, very aware of group research, team research, of bringing in a particular person who would complement the faculty in some particular way.

Spinrad:

Oh. Well, that was quite likely, Dave, actually, because there wasnít any activity in solar system research going on, so, you know, maybe there was some idea that I would do that. I did, for a while. I donít really think that was the basic cause. I think probably because I was a known quantity to them. And probably because in those days, you know, there werenít a hundred people going around looking for jobs.

DeVorkin:

Well, what else happened at JPL; before we leave that? Conditions for research I think weíve covered.

Spinrad:

The only problem was observing. I couldnít get my own observing. So thatís one of the strongest reasons I came back here. Where we have plenty of telescopes.

DeVorkin:

No other experiences down there, of any importance?

Spinrad:

Well, none that I recall.

DeVorkin:

OK. One thing that I found interesting was that you had taken your expertise in the red and infra-red end, and started applying it to stars as soon as you got back here.

Spinrad:

Yes. It was a natural, wasnít it. That started at JPL, before I left JPL.

DeVorkin:

But JPL should not be too interested in that sort of thing?

Spinrad:

No, they didnít care. It was really incredibly free.

DeVorkin:

Wow. Things really have changed.

Spinrad:

I donít know what itís like now. When I was there, too — but that was in a different section. It just wasnít disciplined, in the one I went to. It was just like a university environment. I mean, there were some things that were stupid. You had to park at a certain time, in a certain place — you know, that kind of semi-military shit.

DeVorkin:

No active military presence that you know of?

Spinrad:

Very, very passive.

DeVorkin:

Any security problems?

Spinrad:

Yes. You had to wear a badge. And you know how I felt about the Army, I told you that earlier, so I would make a little trouble for them, but not a lot. I didnít want to stir the boat that much.

DeVorkin:

Any external security, federal security?

Spinrad:

No, not that Iím aware of. I had a visit from a CIA guy, once, before I went to a European conference. Thatís all.

DeVorkin:

Yes, the cold war business.

Spinrad:

Yes, of course.

DeVorkin:

Was that a debriefing, a pre-briefing?

Spinrad:

Pre-briefing. It was a waste of his time, but I didnít know that.

DeVorkin:

Did he want you to do anything?

Spinrad:

He wanted me to listen.

DeVorkin:

To whom?

Spinrad:

The Russians. They didnít have anything to say. It was a waste of time. I wrote them later that they were going to build a big telescope, and beat us, and we needed money for telescopes. I donít know what happened to that either, but it was fun. That is the closest I got to being a double agent! It was funny.

DeVorkin:

I wonder how many people had that idea, really giving ďinside directionsĒ for astronomy —

Spinrad:

Presumably the Russians do the same thing, right? They wanted one. I donít know, thatís as close as I ever came to the cold war, exactly.

DeVorkin:

OK. Delightful little touch. So it looked like, there was no question you were coming back to Berkeley and you were happy about it.

Spinrad:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

There was really no alternative in the Bay Area, at that time.

Spinrad:

Well, I mean, I wasnít desperately looking for a job. There was one alternative. It wasnít so good, but it was possible. Ames was getting into planetary astronomy. I knew Sonnett, who was then the director of the part of Ames that was like part of JPL, and Iím sure he would have been very happy to have me.

DeVorkin:

The time when you came back, then, was about Ď66?

Spinrad:

No, it was February, Ď64. I worked on planets and cool star spectra in the red. Practically doing the same thing on cold stars as Iíd done on colder planets. Water in the stars and stuff.

DeVorkin:

Did you make a strong effort at that time to learn more about molecular spectroscopy?

Spinrad:

I had been, since I got to JPL, yes. Yes, in fact, I even learned how to figure out where various molecule lines ought to be, and played the game of improving the rotational constants of the H2 molecules from stellar spectra, and stuff like that. It didnít work out perfectly, but it was good education.

DeVorkin:

You didnít ignore that end of it.

Spinrad:

No.

DeVorkin:

Because it was either that, or you work in large teams with other people that have specialties.

Spinrad:

Yes. No, I did a little of that. But Iíve never been one for super-team research. I mean, Iíve occasionally participated in things that come out with 20 authors. But I donít really like it that much.

DeVorkin:

So what was your feeling about the Berkeley department and the campus, as you came back after several years away?

Spinrad:

It hadnít changed very much. Only thing that changed was my position on the totem pole which was a little bit higher.

DeVorkin:

Did you find any difficulty in adjusting to the change in relationships?

Spinrad:

No. People were very relaxed about it all.

DeVorkin:

OK, there was no one who was stiff at first?

Spinrad:

No. I was a little surprised. It worked out very smoothly.

DeVorkin:

Your family was happy certainly that you were back here.

Spinrad:

Oh yes. Right.

DeVorkin:

Did you live in Pasadena while you were at JPL?

Spinrad:

Yes. We lived in Pasadena in an apartment. It was OK. I didnít like the smog much.

DeVorkin:

It was pretty bad air at that time.

Spinrad:

It was awful.

DeVorkin:

OK, then, moving back here, what were your duties the first year?

Spinrad:

I took on two courses, my first semester. You know, normal modest amount of department duties that a junior person would have.

DeVorkin:

Yes, but now you were getting more aware possibly of departmental politics and relationships at Berkeley?

Spinrad:

Yes, barely, yes. I was aloof of that. I mean, I was aware of it at JPL, but aloof. A lot of people spent time talking about JPL politics. I guess there was plenty of that, like anywhere else. But I donít enjoy that, too much. I certainly didnít then. Well, if you wanted to be aloof, you could be aloof. I had plenty of things to do.

DeVorkin:

But here?

Spinrad:

Here it was a little bit more close contacts. Somehow, itís always true in a university. I donít know why. The stakes are so small. But still, itís there.

DeVorkin:

Itís whatever youíve got in front of you. The question Iím driving at, of course, is that there was a very significant transition in university administration, when Sproul retired about the same time that Whitford took over at Lick, and you may not have had a significant transition here during those years. Henyey was here, but Struve had left in the late fifties also. So things probably changed quite significantly. Both for support for Lick and for astronomy in general. The change with Sproul retired.

Spinrad:

OK, at my level it wasnít noticeable.

DeVorkin:

What about relations between Berkeley and Lick, as far as the number of students you had, your teaching responsibilities?

Spinrad:

Well, they were getting worse. They were getting worse, in the sense that Lick was feeling isolated, didnít really have students of its own, and had a lot of responsibility.

DeVorkin:

Lick did?

Spinrad:

Lick did, to take care of Berkeley students, that they didnít really feel were theirs. I donít know, thereís always been some latent conflict, but mostly personalities of individuals, rather than campus-wide things. I think during that time they were substantial but not dominant.

DeVorkin:

The Lick people had 12 month assignments and no official teaching duties, and they also had their housing paid for them, and equipment was right there. And here you were, an observational astrophysicist, certainly with a need for big telescopes, and you were interested in the 120?

Spinrad:

Right, But I wasnít discriminated against. So this never bothered me that much, in the sense that I would write a request in to Albert Whitford, and as far as I could tell, I would get a fair chunk. It didnít bother me that much. It bothered some people. I mean, it really wasnít that tough to get Coude time then. And even when I first started, I probably could get close to 30 nights a year, which is more than I can get now, by the way.

DeVorkin:

Thereís more people?

Spinrad:

Thatís right. The pressure is much harder on the dark time observers, now. There are more of us.

DeVorkin:

Right. Well, at some time, I would like you to give me sort of your general impressions of how the relations changed and developed, and why they developed in the way they did.

Spinrad:

I donít really know. Itís pretty complex, and I didnít know all the scores at the time, Mostly, I think, it was a matter of personalities, and various persecution complexes, and some inequities which have been partly relieved. But Lick and Berkeley have gotten along in a mixed fashion for a long time. I must say, I think with considerable success, I avoided much of the animosity, at least as far as I know. There have been certain individuals that I, at times, have had hostile periods with — between the Santa Cruz/Lick staff, and myself, or others here. But I think those have gone away. People have gone away, or relationships have changed. I mean, for a while, I was always mad at Tom Kinman and he was mad at me, but thatís not the case now. I have a note on my calendar to call him this afternoon about something weíre sort of doing together. At least heís going to report on something heís done, that heís helped me with. Iím not sure about anybody else. It hasnít really affected me very much. But I know, Albert Whitford felt very much persecuted, and maybe the whole Lick group did, when they were sort of forced to move down to Santa Cruz. I donít think they wanted to do that initially. And that may have been Berkeleyís fault. I think it all worked out for the better for them. I think thereís more astronomy to be done when theyíre on a campus, in contact with other academic environments and other theorists, than there would be to be permanent on the mountain. But certainly, thereís less access to the mountain, and the equipment on the smaller telescope is in fact not maintained as well as it would be if there was a permanent mountain staff. I think, now, things are really quite good. Just occasional minor rifts appear, but they donít last, because the old personalities are gone. The leaders of each group, campus group and the others, are pretty open-minded people.

DeVorkin:

Well, Osterbrock was brought in, to add to the Lick-Wisconsin group.

Spinrad:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

He certainly was a new face.

Spinrad:

Oh yes it helps. But even some of the old faces, guys who have been around — for example, like R. Kraft who has been on both sides of the street, plus a long time as a student here, and a long time in Southern California. I think things are really not very bad. But maybe Iím continuing to be naive. Iím always naive. My wife says Iím naive. I like it, actually. Itís very pleasant.

DeVorkin:

It makes you able to concentrate on your research a little more. But there was nothing you are aware of that affected your research?

Spinrad:

No, I donít think so. If it has, Iím pretty dumb and I hadnít noticed it.

DeVorkin:

Itís been OK.

Spinrad:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

The direction of your research seemed to get closer and closer to galactic evolution, at that time. You started talking about normal galaxies in the post-Baade era. [13]

Spinrad:

Right. That was late sixties now.

DeVorkin:

Right. Now, did all this interest in galactic evolution stem pretty much out of your spectroscopy, which at first was going after the cooler stars, and then after the identification of, letís say, population types, in the nuclear bulge of galaxies, as opposed to the outside of the galaxies.

Spinrad:

Yes, thatís correct, and also, Iíve always wanted, through the sixties, to do my thesis over again in a quantitative way, so finally in about Ď67, I started to do it. And thatís where all this stuff on synthesis work in a quantitative manner and super-metal rich individual stars got started, with a student, Ben Taylor. We started observing a bunch of stars, near the sun, and also in clusters some distance from the sun, and hoped to use those as building blocks for synthesis. To our surprise, there were some outstanding differences among the stars themselves.

DeVorkin:

That was a surprise?

Spinrad:

It certainly was to me. I expected to find a few metal- poor stars. But to find stars that had very strong lines, compared to the average near the sun, was to me a great shock, and I think to everyone a considerable surprise.

DeVorkin:

Your designation of super-metallicity was only to contrast the effects that you were seeing. You were working with a structured system, basic population types of certain metallicities — were you trying to imply that there was a certain group of stars that did not fit any of the population types?

Spinrad:

Well, more to give you the opposite pole for metal-poor stars. Metal-rich, the connotation of metal-rich has come to be equal to normal at that time. So we wanted to have something that had some impact. I think it was, in retrospect, a choice of words that was likely to get us in trouble.

DeVorkin:

Well, it was interesting. And then you came out directly with this Baade-type discussion, and so you were obviously looking at the reality of population statistics.

Spinrad:

Yes, thatís right.

DeVorkin:

And Iím very interested in how your skepticism developed.

Spinrad:

You mean about my own work, or what had been done before?

DeVorkin:

No, to the reality of the two populations.

Spinrad:

Oh. Gee. You should see how it is today.

DeVorkin:

Well, certainly, someday weíll get there.

Spinrad:

I hope we get there. I donít know, Iím constantly skeptical of all work, including my own. Really. That self-criticism. Maybe I wish that I could turn a little of it off.

DeVorkin:

Does it affect your students?

Spinrad:

No. I donít think so.

DeVorkin:

Youíre not talking seriously about an overly skeptical attitude.

Spinrad:

No, I donít think so.

DeVorkin:

Half the time, that would be just what youíd want to have a student experience.

Spinrad:

Yes. No, theyíre all right. Now, Iíve sort of lost track of your last question. Anyway, this ASP paper on stellar contents in the post-Baade era, I guess thatís part of the title.

DeVorkin:

ďNormal Galaxies in the Post-Baade Era.Ē

Spinrad:

That was sort of an outgrowth of the synthesis program, which was just getting going then, for detection of these strong lines stars, that I thought were a super-metal-rich population. They might still be, in part.

DeVorkin:

Well, in detecting these super-metal-rich stars, when you first made this discovery, letís say, and we can call it a discovery.

Spinrad:

Yes, completely an accidental thing.

DeVorkin:

What was your first impression, if you can recall? Were you thinking, ďWow, weíve got a clump of interstellar material here that —Ē

Spinrad:

No, no, I knew right away it wasnít that.

DeVorkin:

OK.

Spinrad:

It was too widespread. You could see it in a bunch of different places. No, I just felt that they were freaks, that there were a few of these around, and you could pan them off as something uninteresting.

DeVorkin:

You were thinking maybe about ideas of mixing, at that time?

Spinrad:

A little bit, but then very quickly we noticed that this didnít take place in giant stars, but in fact, Main Sequence K dwarfs, or a subset of those. You can find it in the literature. You donít have to look at my work. After you know that you should look for something like that, just go through all of Olin Wilsonís papers and pick out the ones that had anomalously strong Cyanogen bands. This had been around for a while, but just not recognized.

DeVorkin:

It wasnít recognized because the work was too sporadic?

Spinrad:

That, and people werenít ready to recognize it.

DeVorkin:

They were too much strung into Baade ideas?

Spinrad:

Well, I donít know if you want to use Baade, but, the conventions of the 1957 Vatican Symposium, for example. ďConventionĒ is almost the right word. I mean, that is the way it is in science, right? You see what youíre ready to see. Thatís how Pfeiffer described Baadeís pictures of Cygnus A, and colliding galaxies as radio sources. Thereís an introduction in Quasi-Stellar Radio Sources and Gravitational Collapse, [14] the first Texas Symposium. You read the editorís introduction. They use a reference to Pfeiffer, The Changing Universe. [15] Iíve never read it, I just read this excerpt. The editorís introduction to this thing is a super thing to read. Anyway, the idea is that a scientist can see something many times, but he wonít interpret it in a particular way until heís sort of ready to, for perhaps some other reason. I guess thatís why I saw super-metals. Iím not really sure why.

DeVorkin:

Thereís a long quotation in this introduction. That might be the one youíre referring to.

Spinrad:

Yes, but somewhere in this it says that what Baade saw, anybody else could have seen, but only Baade was ready to interpret it in the way he did.

DeVorkin:

Ah, I see what you mean. And then, that was one of the things that created a convention of thought —

Spinrad:

— yes, which of course later turned out to be wrong. But so what? It influenced things. It influenced a lot of people to start looking at something that, you know, hadnít been looked at before in a quantitative way. Looking for super-metallicity.

DeVorkin:

Right. Itís always a strange balance, when you look back in history, and you look at the man who had created the convention, and then you look at the reality of what he was arguing at the time, within historical context. We try to equate the personís forcefulness and degree of expression with what he was really talking about, and in this case, we had a very recent, probably one of the most recent observations about the fundamental character of galaxies, which is now eroding — so it would be very interesting to get your impressions of Baade, as a result of that.

Spinrad:

Yes. Well, of course, I never knew Baade.

DeVorkin:

Right. OK.

Spinrad:

Unfortunately I just missed him. I only know him from his publications, which are far and few between.

DeVorkin:

What was the temper of the astronomical community, that part of it that you talked to, and are aware of, about Baadeís work?

Spinrad:

Very high, as is my own. I mean, he was an incredible innovator. I wish he had published more. His publications are too terse anyway. The best thing is the book that Cecelia Payne-Gaposchkin has put together.

DeVorkin:

EVOLUTION OF STARS AND GALAXIES? [16]

Spinrad:

Thatís right. Thatís a super book. And when I get down in the dumps, I pick it up and read it. Itís a good inspirational source. Itís not at all the way one looks at it now. He would have been a fun guy to know. Iím sure I would have had a great fight with him, if I had been old enough at that time to stand up to it.

DeVorkin:

I see. Thatís very interesting. OK, you continued to work both in doing stellar spectroscopy, working on cool stars, right through the sixties, after you started definitely writing on galaxies — your old super-metal stars were in l967

Spinrad:

I sort of continued that to about Ď70. Amplifying that, defending it a little bit. Now, I just watch it. Get chewed up. Actually, itís coming back a little bit this year, surprisingly.

DeVorkin:

In what way?

Spinrad:

Itís not dead yet. Well, I donít want to go into all the details, but thereís been a problem whether the interpretation is right, as an overall abundance effect, or just some crazy phenomenon due to over-abundance of a few light elements, which affect the outer structure of the star, and cause the whole thing to have a different boundary temperature, and therefore stronger lines, than you would, even if the abundances of the heavier metals were normal.

DeVorkin:

Well, is there anything to this idea of clumpyness in the universe, clumpyness within galaxies, I should say (as expressed at the recent - April 1977 - Yale Symposium)?

Spinrad:

Yes. I think Searle stressed that in a very, very forceful way there. I donít know if itís right, but itís an interesting idea, and it allows all sorts of possibilities.

DeVorkin:

Iím talking about abundance anomalies, as a result.

Spinrad:

Yes. Could well be. Yes, itís possible that has something to do with it too. Actually, the most interesting thing I heard about super-metallicity at Yale was on the bus from New Haven to Kennedy after the meeting. I sat with Ruth Peterson, and she told me what she has been doing recently, on Main Sequence K stars, unevolved low mass stars with different abundances, and there she thinks the strong line stars are in fact super-metal rich, you know, in detailed analysis. None of this is out yet, so — I shouldnít quote it any further.

DeVorkin:

Does the super-metallicity make you think more in terms of a Population 3?

Spinrad:

Well, that would have been nice, but I donít know. It may be, in a sense that it seems in other galaxies to be strongly concentrated toward the center. But then, the things weíre observing out here, in fact, the strong line stars do not have very eccentric orbits, so that doesnít fit in very well. Iím not so sure.

DeVorkin:

OK. Well, weíve been dealing purely in star by star analysis here.

Spinrad:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

But also, you seem to have begun to get an interest in looking at galaxies as unitary bodies. You detected the galactic nucleus in the micron region. [17]

Spinrad:

Oh, that is a stunt.

DeVorkin:

What do you mean?

Spinrad:

Really, just that, just a technical stunt.

DeVorkin:

You certainly donít write, ďI would like to perform this stuntĒ in applying for money to the National Science Foundation.

Spinrad:

Oh no, you just do it on your own.

DeVorkin:

You had no support for that?

Spinrad:

Well, I used whatever support I had at the time. It wasnít very hard.

DeVorkin:

What did you follow? There had been earlier attempts, had there been a hint?

Spinrad:

We knew where to look. This was after Becklin-Neugebauer did the real pioneering. If it was before then, I wouldnít be joking about it, I would be gloating or proud or something. Sure. But this was a post-discovery, so to speak. So it just extended the coverage to shorter wave lengths. Gave us a little bit better handle on the reddening.

DeVorkin:

Right. Is it fair to say that you knew that you had the instrumentation, so, ďwhy not give it a try?Ē

Spinrad:

I thought I did. And it marginally worked out. Yes. I mean, it really took me a couple of nights on the 120 inch, once I knew how to do it. The trick was to find a place where the sky was dark in the infra-red, because the main problem is the foreground air glow from the earthís atmosphere. So we just had to map the spectrum of the air glow, by using a spectrometer.

DeVorkin:

This is a wide field thing?

Spinrad:

Just a few minutes of arc angle, and say 30 angstroms of spectrum at a time, in the infra-red. You canít just take a photograph broad band. You have to pick a place where the sky is relatively dark. It would be a little less crucial if you did it from Chile — but, it would still be important. Then you use that wavelength as the place to do spatial chopping. Itís trivial, once you figure out how to do it.

DeVorkin:

Well, figuring out how to do it is most of the problem.

Spinrad:

Yes, I guess I innovated that, but it doesnít seem like any big deal.

DeVorkin:

Your earlier work was just direct scanning?

Spinrad:

Sure. Well, the detectors were less sensitive then. So you couldnít afford to break the light up. Thatís all.

DeVorkin:

Whose instrumentation did you use?

Spinrad:

Wamplerís old single channel scanner, at the prime focus. That sort of began to bring Lick into the 20th century. When Wampler, with Whitfordís backing, I think, strongly, about 1964-66, at Lick, started putting in some modern instrumentation. That was a very important point for the observatory, and obviously for my research, too.

DeVorkin:

Somebody must have brought Whitford with that in mind.

Spinrad:

I donít know. Presumably so.

DeVorkin:

But youíre not aware of the stories of how he was chosen?

Spinrad:

No. I was a student then.

DeVorkin:

Thatís right. But again, sometimes students know all there is.

Spinrad:

Yes, but I didnít have my ear to the ground as much as other people did.

DeVorkin:

OK, well, who did have their ears — that we may talk to?

Spinrad:

Ivan King wasnít here, but he might know something about it.

DeVorkin:

Preston was off at Hale by then?

Spinrad:

Yes, he was at Hale. Harold Weaver, maybe. Possibly.

DeVorkin:

OK. That was an interesting trade-off. If I could call it that, between George Preston and Robert Kraft. Was that a real trade?

Spinrad:

Damn near.

DeVorkin:

What went on there?

Spinrad:

Oh, it was crazy. I donít know. I donít know why Preston left. I was really depressed. Kraft was a good guy. He came a little later than Preston, though. I donít know. I just was shocked.

DeVorkin:

But he didnít talk to anyone about that?

Spinrad:

He didnít talk to me about it. I never really wanted to ask him.

DeVorkin:

I was around, of course, at Lick at this time, and I do keep my ear to the walls. Could it have been something like the fact, with Lick having to move to Santa Cruz, they were going to become a teaching faculty, and that Preston may not have wanted to teach?

Spinrad:

I think it was a little after the move, but that may still have been a factor. Itís possible.

DeVorkin:

Well, a man with his personality not wanting to teach is a surprise.

Spinrad:

Yes, because I donít think he would be afraid to do it. He might not want to lose the time. But heís not afraid of students.

DeVorkin:

Wasnít he one of the few faculty who came down here regularly to teach?

Spinrad:

Yes. Well, he would come down here sometimes and give seminars. He did more than most of them. So I donít think that was it, to any extent. Itís possible but I doubt it.

DeVorkin:

OK. Obviously the best course would be Preston.

Spinrad:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

So I hope someday to be able to talk to him.

Spinrad:

The time has passed, enough time has passed that I canít see heíd be uptight about it, that much, now, if at all. I donít know.

DeVorkin:

It was an interesting thing. You read about these things all the time between baseball teams now.

Spinrad:

Yes, I know. This was a little bit more serious.

DeVorkin:

Yes, Iíve never seen anything like it.

Spinrad:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

So you worked with Wamplerís old scanner?

Spinrad:

It was a lovely instrument. Still works. Itís used every night. Not every night. Itís used 12, 15 nights a month with the Crossley.

DeVorkin:

Right. You say that the scanner technology now, has pretty much taken over?

Spinrad:

Well, the multiplexing devices, yes. Yes, for frontier work they have. But for some things, to get high precision, thereís no way you can do as well as photomultiplier, which is what this thing uses. A receiver.

DeVorkin:

But it brings up the specter of funding and money, and the fact that these instruments are costing more — not only that, but the fact that you have a PDS here.

Spinrad:

Yes, right.

DeVorkin:

And are you one of the larger users of the PDS?

Spinrad:

Iím a user. Iím really not one of the larger users.

DeVorkin:

I see. But still this kind of equipment takes a tremendous amount of support, in times when support is dwindling, and I imagine all of your support is still primarily NSF grants. What kind of internal encouragement or demands are there, that you seek outside support? Has it been increasing with time?

Spinrad:

No. There has always been encouragement from the university that you seek NSF support. University of California is one of the great cheapskates now, Iím afraid.

DeVorkin:

Was it that way when you came?

Spinrad:

I donít know. Itís gotten worse. Yes, I think itís gotten worse.

DeVorkin:

But itís perfectly understandable why.

Spinrad:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

You were here during Reagan years.

Spinrad:

Yes. That was awful. Just psychological pressure from above. It was really terrible.

DeVorkin:

Was that primarily it?

Spinrad:

Yes. And budgets were cut, but Brownís not doing any better. But at least we donít have that harassment.

DeVorkin:

What kind of harassment was it?

Spinrad:

Oh, just verbal.

DeVorkin:

No ďout of state travelĒ etc.?

Spinrad:

No, it never got that way. There was never any this direct — anything you could put your fingers on. It was just, always, that you were suspect.

DeVorkin:

Of what?

Spinrad:

Oh, of un-Americanism, for example. It was blatant political crap.

DeVorkin:

Un-Americanism?

Spinrad:

I mean, the Reagan image really was that a bunch of at least pinko professors were inciting the students to freedom, rebellion, or worse. Research was sort of ignored, luckily, so it wasnít really cut back.

DeVorkin:

I see. OK.

Spinrad:

I mean, the university budget was cut as a whole, so there probably were some internal things, to cut back. But I mean, he never said that research is bad and we should just teach all the time. And Brown, I think, is more inclined to say that the university should be more responsive to teaching. But somehow things get screwed up, so quality undergraduate teaching is difficult because they cut the TAís, which is insane.

DeVorkin:

They cut the TAís? Cut it with a philosophy that the faculty should be in direct contact?

Spinrad:

I donít think thereís any philosophy at all.

DeVorkin:

Just money.

Spinrad:

I guess. I donít know.

DeVorkin:

There is a philosophy like that, at the state college level, that direct contact with the professor means quality of education.

Spinrad:

Yes, sure, but for 200 students in elementary astronomy, itís a bit difficult.

DeVorkin:

Right. You literally now have to face all of the clerical work involved?

Spinrad:

No. There are just less TAís.

DeVorkin:

There are less, they havenít been cut out altogether?

Spinrad:

No, if they cut them out altogether, weíd just drop the courses.

DeVorkin:

I see. When did this start developing? This was not in the Reagan years?

Spinrad:

Oh, maybe a little bit, but itís accentuated. Itís just continued. I guess itís continued constantly. Reagan was more, to me at least, just a big mouth, constantly bad mouthing the university, and to some extent intellectualism.

DeVorkin:

He came in Ď66. And you were here in Ď64.

Spinrad:

Right.

DeVorkin:

So you had about two years under the first Brown? (Governor Pat Brown)

Spinrad:

Yes. Benevolent.

DeVorkin:

He was benevolent, of course, and Iím just wondering, would you be able to put your finger on any real deterioration in the university because of the Reagan administration? Other than the straight budget cuts? Because thatís a very obvious thing.

Spinrad:

No, not really. The budget goes down. Faculty salaries go up slower than the inflation rate. But thatís true under (Governor Jerry) Brown too. Brown also, I mean. This year, everybody else in the employ of the state, so far as I know, got 7-1/2 per cent, and university and college faculty got 5. And the reason quoted, on the radio at least, was that thatís competitive with other universities. I donít know if thatís true or not. I mean, heís really taking advantage of the job market. So the politicians are all the same breed, and theyíll take you for whatever they can get. Itís too bad. No, I think in general university quality has suffered only slightly. People are loyal. Also, people nowadays are not going to get other jobs that easily. And thereís too much inertia. Why should you change? Itís not that great anywhere also.

DeVorkin:

Thatís for sure.

Spinrad:

So no, I donít think thereís been a large deterioration. Maybe a little bit. As far as you know, just general outlook from a professorial point of view. There probably has been a little bit of deterioration in the quality of services we render undergraduates. But thatís basically because of the TA cut.

DeVorkin:

Well, that certainly is now coming up, especially your teaching. How do you look at your own teaching, the growth of your own teaching career here? Do you look at yourself as a teacher from time to time, rather than a researcher?

Spinrad:

Well, from time to time. I find it difficult to get up each day, and have to teach four days a week or something, with uniform quality. In fact the quality is far from uniform. But itís better now, just because I have more experience.

DeVorkin:

Are you involved with undergraduate education?

Spinrad:

Well, I teach undergraduate courses and graduate courses.

DeVorkin:

In the undergraduate courses, are there non-major courses that you teach?

Spinrad:

Yes. I do that and major courses. Itís all kind of split up. We alternate between things. I havenít taught the elementary course for a couple of years, but I do sometimes.

DeVorkin:

Is there still in the department an awareness, a decision, I should say, that there is one elementary course that is to be taught, rather than a series of new type directional courses?

Spinrad:

There are both. The basic elementary course is now No. 10, the old Astronomy 1, in one quarter and then there are some other follow-up courses or parallel courses to it which are more specialized and smaller.

DeVorkin:

I see, but the attitude of these smaller follow-up courses, their direction, are they toward actually exposing these students to the discipline, even though they may not be majors? Or creating courses, like ďIntelligent Life in the UniverseĒ (more philosophical)?

Spinrad:

No, theyíre the former.

DeVorkin:

OK. Has there been pressure to do the latter?

Spinrad:

Not much.

DeVorkin:

Not within the department.

Spinrad:

No, I donít think so.

DeVorkin:

You would remain then more in formal education, both in undergraduate major and undergraduate non-major.

Spinrad:

Yes. I think thatís the way youíd describe it.

DeVorkin:

And how do you feel about that?

Spinrad:

I think thatís OK.

DeVorkin:

You see no compelling reason to create new directions in astronomical education.

Spinrad:

Iím not sure. I guess I could be convinced. But you know, I think weíre doing a fairly good job of covering most of the basics that weíre capable of covering.

DeVorkin:

Do you have pressure from the university to meet a certain quota of numbers of students that you handle?

Spinrad:

Probably if we taught a lot fewer, there would be a lot of pressure on us.

DeVorkin:

Has there ever been any indication, either in this department or others that you know of, where faculty were threatened, positions were threatened to be cut, in case undergraduate non-major enrollments were not met?

Spinrad:

I donít know that itís that strict, but you do feel some inkling that if our enrollments were to drop quickly, that we wouldnít be able to keep all our positions, if we lose some person, we might not be able to re-fill it (the position). But Iíve never heard any quotas. They might exist. I donít know.

DeVorkin:

Can you review your interests pretty much up to date in outline fashion?

Spinrad:

Yes, right.

DeVorkin:

Something that we might be able to expand upon in the future.

Spinrad:

OK, that sounds fine. Let me mention names of a couple of people who had a lot of influence on me, from the mid-sixties to almost the present time. That would be Rudolph Minkowski until his death a year and a half ago, and Allan Sandage, constantly, whether he likes it or not.

DeVorkin:

Can I ask you about Minkowski? He came up here basically in retirement?

Spinrad:

Yes. Except he didnít retire. He just kept on working. But yes, officially, he retired from Mt. Wilson right after he got the red shift of 3C295, which was in 1960, went to Wisconsin for a year, and then came here, in Ď61 or Ď62, when I was going to JPL. And then when I came back, of course, he was going full blast here.

DeVorkin:

Why did he choose to come here?

Spinrad:

I donít know. Well, I think possibly because his kids were here. But you know, maybe he didnít have any other offers, I donít know.

DeVorkin:

OK. So he had a semi-official or official position here?

Spinrad:

I think he got paid, but I donít know how much.

DeVorkin:

OK. Fine. He certainly was a very strong influence and inspiration for you.

Spinrad:

Oh yes, in fact, incredible.

DeVorkin:

In what way?

Spinrad:

I donít know, I liked the guy personally, right from the start. I met him when I was a student. I guess I liked him right away because he was a famous guy and he, you know, sat down in the diner at Lick and started talking to me like he would talk to a colleague at Mt. Wilson. And I was impressed by that. That was pretty heady stuff for a kid. I mean, he expected me to know what was going on, but thatís all right, I liked that.

DeVorkin:

Thatís the idea. Did he make any overtures to try to find out where you were at during the conversation?

Spinrad:

I donít know, I suppose he picked it up fast enough. Maybe he had talked to Whitford before. Iím not sure.

DeVorkin:

What were you talking about?

Spinrad:

I canít remember, at the time. I donít know, something to do with extragalactic astronomy.

DeVorkin:

Then the long term interests, how did they develop, along your lines?

Spinrad:

OK, when I was doing the synthesis stuff, in galaxies, he was interested in it for its own sake, but he was also interested, as to a large degree was Sandage — thatís why I bring his name up now too — in a larger aspect of this, and that is: what it means for galaxy evolution, and how you use that for cosmology. And both of them had written about it, studying it around 1960, and they kept sort of making me aware that you want to utilize these stellar models for more than just understanding whatís the nucleus of M-3l now, but what big galaxies looked like in the past, so they can use the light travel time corrections somehow, to get a proper Hubble diagram, and understand the evolution of galaxies, as it affects cosmology. This was sort of pre-B. Tinsley, who has taken this field over, in such a fine and domineering way, in the last four or five years. So they had a large indulgence on me. And then there were other things, Rudolph sort of on day to day things and Allan on the bigger picture. It wasnít always a very pleasant thing. I mean, when super-metallicity started, Sandage didnít like it much at all. I had a rather bitter letter from Sandage and Eggers in about Ď69 on it. I guess I sent them a draft manuscript.

DeVorkin:

Now, when this happened, Minkowski was here. Did you discuss it?

Spinrad:

I donít remember. Rudolph wasnít in that so very much. I probably complained about it at lunch. I donít know that he had anything particularly of import to say at that time.

DeVorkin:

What were the closest influences that he had upon you?

Spinrad:

Well, planning what may be the next thing, to get into looking at faint galaxies, and doing the direct cosmology, not sort of being scared that it was all going to get done on the 200-inch telescope. That was one thing. But just sort of a day to day interaction on modern astronomy. Rudolph was a very versatile and modern guy, and in spite of his age, he was always into the new thing, and liked new astronomy. Youíd think an old guy would sort of still stay in the stuff he was trained in and did his initial work in, but Minkowski was all over the spectrum, all over the astronomical map. Pulsars — or ďpoolsars,Ē as he called them.

DeVorkin:

What about the helium to hydrogen ratio, the work that you did in 1970, with Manuel Peimbert? [18]

Spinrad:

He was very much interested in the results. I donít remember any great interaction while it was in the works. It was basically a reaction to Big Bang/Steady State hypotheses, where one worried very much about the helium abundances, in differentiating those, in models that were around then, from Hoyle and others. That was probably more Manuelís idea than mine. I canít really remember. It probably was.

DeVorkin:

Was this part of his thesis research?

Spinrad:

No, it was after. Just a little ways after. I enjoyed working with the better students. I mentioned a list of names before — Bob Wing, Manuel, Ben Taylor, more recently, Gene Smith and Jim Liebert. Iíve been fortunate in having very good students. Iíve helped them a lot, but I think basically they were good and thereís nothing you could do to ruin them.

DeVorkin:

Do you think thereís something that causes them to be drawn to you and the problems youíre attacking, or is this pretty typical of the whole department?

Spinrad:

Oh, I think a little of each, but the general quality of students here is good. You can, you know, throw dice and come up with pretty good ones anyway.

DeVorkin:

Just as an aside, do you ever start worrying about where theyíre going to go?

Spinrad:

Yes. The good ones will make it.

DeVorkin:

You think thereís a much stronger weeding out process now.

Spinrad:

Yes. It still is heart wrenching, if somebody doesnít. The problem is, they can get post-docs, but then the more permanent positions, even for the better guys, thatís a little harder. I donít know whatís going to happen. Anyway, I sort of gradually got into cosmology, by just pushing harder on, working on more distant things, where you get less physical information per object.

DeVorkin:

But for a while, in 1970, with Greenstein, Taylor and King, [19] you were doing super-metallicity, comparing M67 to NGC188.

Spinrad:

Right.

DeVorkin:

Iím interested in this one particular line, where you have the youngest globular and the oldest open cluster, so to speak. How do you feel about their differences?

Spinrad:

Well, theyíre both very galactic clusters. 188 looks almost like a globular cluster, when you look at it in the SKY SURVEY[20] but it isnít.

DeVorkin:

OK. But were you looking for relative abundances here, and then contrasting that to an age effect at all?

Spinrad:

Well, we realized that, you know, once we got the first scans of these stars, that they were pretty strong, pretty strong line. Itís clear that if you go through gradual enrichment in the galaxy, that these in fact should be more metal-poor, than the sun and nearby stars, on the average. So we wanted to see how much of an aversion, if any, there was in the abundance -age distribution in the disk. In fact, that paper has not done very well with time.

DeVorkin:

I see.

Spinrad:

The one you mentioned, with Jesse, is one of the guys conned into it.

DeVorkin:

Right. By about that time, the abundance picture of the different populations was starting to get pretty badly smeared out.

Spinrad:

Yes. Muddled.

DeVorkin:

Right. And this had cosmological significance at that time. Did it keep direct cosmology and evolution of galaxies separate, as two different modes of research? Did you realize at that time that studies of galaxies and their properties, close range, was going to give important data to cosmology?

Spinrad:

Oh yes, that was quite clear by Ď70.

DeVorkin:

Is it true, though, that that awareness has been increasing with the years?

Spinrad:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

Could you discuss why that awareness is increasing?

Spinrad:

Well, I donít know. It now seems sort of obvious, I guess. I mean, there are several pictures. First of all, youíve got to make the metal somehow. It has something presumably to do with the luminosity in earlier stages. And secondly, you have to distribute them in some way, depending on whether the abundance gradients are in a disk or in a spherical subsystem, so it has to do with the dynamical evolution of the early stages of the galaxy.

DeVorkin:

Was it possible that ten years ago people thought they couldnít be attacked effectively, whereas today they think they can?

Spinrad:

Yes, maybe so. I donít know.

DeVorkin:

Is it an instrumentation advance?

Spinrad:

Well, thatís happened too. Iím not quite sure. Maybe it just wasnít in vogue, I donít know. I donít really think we understood it. It was much worse then. Itís pretty clear, you have to know these things at some level. I think we just tried to answer the questions at a zeroth order level, and now theyíre maybe up to the first order. Just because it is hopeless any other way.

DeVorkin:

In 1972, you wrote a paper on the color change of a population model. [21] You were comparing M32 to 3C295. Now, your intention there was to take a very distant object, and a not so distant object, and try to separate out the effects of red shift, and evolution?

Spinrad:

Right, with a very, very simplified model, for the evolution over about five billion years, which is OK, I guess. Wasnít a very epic-making paper actually.

DeVorkin:

Yes, but still, talking directly about cosmology, thatís a very important problem that still has to be figured out. What kind of advances have been made?

Spinrad:

Just empirical ones now. I mean, the modeling is better but any fool with a computer can do that. And Beatrice Tinsley has done a sophisticated job. Conceptually, you know, she knew how to do it after her thesis, which was Ď68. No, the instrumentation now allows you to get the spectra of the more distant things, and you can compare nearby. Now, in fact, almost the onus responsibility is on the satellite ultraviolet. Nearby galaxies are not well observed, at rest wavelengths below the ozone cutoff. And the distant ones, in fact, mostly from my stuff and a little bit from the Hale group, are better observed, at those rest wavelengths.

DeVorkin:

Apparently the observational direction now is to space observation?

Spinrad:

And to push farther out, from the ground. Which Iím going to do.

DeVorkin:

Are you involved at all in any kind of a package program for the LST?

Spinrad:

Yes, Iím on two spectroscopic proposals for the ST, one of which might have a chance.

DeVorkin:

Youíre calling it the ST now?

Spinrad:

Yes. The ďLĒ is out. Itís not very large. Thatís going to hurt us, too.

DeVorkin:

Is it?

Spinrad:

Yes. For direct work, it wonít matter much. The gains will be enormous. But for the spectroscopic stuff, with medium apertures, itís going to hurt.

DeVorkin:

OK, well, this is significant, because other people have said, from the instrumental line, that itís actually going to be better because it will make the instrument more reliable, or easier to handle.

Spinrad:

Well, that may be true. But for the kind of research I want to do, itís going to be tough.

DeVorkin:

Will it still be possible, or you just canít tell?

Spinrad:

Yes. Probably. Well, there will probably be some new leads that will turn out to be, you know, more interesting than the things Iím following now. But if I had to use it tonight, and didnít know any more about what to observe and what to do, tonight, than I do now, the things I would want to do, by sort of brute force at Lick Observatory — would not get done that much better on the ST. Only a little bit.

DeVorkin:

What are those things that you would do immediately?

Spinrad:

Well, Iíd push out to red shifts on Kronís faint blue clusters, which are likely to have red shifts larger than 1 — theyíre probably the most distant things we can recognize now, that are normal, semi-normal. I am excluding quasars from normality, because I think theyíre so freakish and variable, and non-standard-candles, that theyíre virtually useless for cosmology. So I think itís galaxies, and clusters of galaxies, that are the ones to do, and now I think we know how to recognize them.

DeVorkin:

Yes. These are the faint blue clusters, with Z>l?

Spinrad:

Well, itís not proven. But thatís my guess, that the red shifts are substantially over 1.

DeVorkin:

What causes you to guess? The guess is pretty educated.

Spinrad:

Yes. An educated guess. Size, magnitude, red shift of the first prototype is .95, close to 1, and theyíre all fainter than that. And the only way to make them bluer than that, with the models weíve got — weíre now modeling the stellar content down in the IJV, the only way to get them bluer than the ones, or as blue as the ones we see now, is to increase the red shift. There might be other ways, but I think itís the most plausible.

DeVorkin:

Well, thatís a pretty well defined line of research that youíre in.

Spinrad:

Yes, thatís the way Iíll go, the next couple of years.

DeVorkin:

OK, you feel thatís probably the most effective way to go in cosmology? Certainly youíre working in that area and itís very different from what you were doing before.

Spinrad:

Yes. I think thatís an effective way to learn something. I donít know what weíre going to learn. It might just be about evolution of galaxies. It might not tell us that much about cosmology.

DeVorkin:

Right.

Spinrad:

Itís hard to say. Iím not sure you can separate the two. Iíd like to try. But either one is a viable goal.

DeVorkin:

Right. You sort of present an interesting example of a person who not only can maintain a certain technique and apply it to different problems, but you also can change your direction of research to suit what you think is the most ďdo-ableĒ thing at the moment. So this is what you were talking about before, to some extent.

Spinrad:

Yes. I guess thatís right.

DeVorkin:

So do you think this is the most do-able and the most reasonable line of research to engage in, in direct cosmology, at the time?

Spinrad:

Well, Iím also attracted to it because itís new, and at least initially, kind of surprising.

DeVorkin:

That always helps.

Spinrad:

That gets your motivation cranked up.

DeVorkin:

Were you looking for small clusters?

Spinrad:

No. Richard Kron found these things, by accident — small bluish-colored things, kind of a surprise. And we thought at first you know, that it might be some kind of group of dwarf galaxies. That is not entirely ruled out, in some cases. But I think itís very unlikely, and in the few cases weíve looked at in detail, it seems pretty preposterous.

DeVorkin:

OK. Well, you mentioned Minkowski, but I donít know how much we want to labor the point of your relationship with him now, because our time is short, so let me ask you some directly cosmology questions.

Spinrad:

Sure, go ahead.

DeVorkin:

Fair enough, OK.

Spinrad:

I never learned cosmology in a formal course, by the way. Isnít that ridiculous?

DeVorkin:

What would a formal course be?

Spinrad:

Oh, it could be something on just tensor analysis, which for me would be a waste of someoneís time.

DeVorkin:

That would be the McVittieís books?

Spinrad:

Yes. Right, or Joseph Silkís work.

DeVorkin:

Well, what about Minkowski, did he ever give any lectures while he was here?

Spinrad:

Very early in the game, before I was back — I think while I was at JPL, he gave some courses. He gave seminars once in a while. But as he got older, it was perhaps a little too tiresome for him. But heíd come to Kingís seminars on galaxies, and always have some wisecrack, or usually an incisive statement at a colloquium.

DeVorkin:

Incisive, yes.

Spinrad:

Yes. He was very good that way. When it came down to one well, I donít want to say ďone liners,Ē but one paragraph incisive statements, he was really good for that, almost to the end. Well, ask your questions.

DeVorkin:

OK. First, my questions are pretty general, and you can do as you wish. One of them starts out, how do you see your own work within the framework of cosmology studies? I think weíve pretty much already discussed it. You are doing direct cosmology now.

Spinrad:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

So itís pretty obvious.

Spinrad:

Yes. I think Iím on the edge of it.

DeVorkin:

You see yourself there.

Spinrad:

I hope so. Iím going to learn something. At the moment, I have the tools and the experience to get red shifts of faint things, as well as anybody else, or better. So Iím going to do it.

DeVorkin:

OK. Concerning general cosmology, do you have any opinions about the constancy of capital G?

Spinrad:

Just prejudices.

DeVorkin:

And what are they? We love prejudices.

Spinrad:

I suspect that it hasnít changed much. No, I donít really know that much about it. I havenít really read critically the articles on lunar motion — Van Flandernís things, so I donít know. I mean, Iím aware that there may be more than speculation or Dickeís ideas, which are now relatively old, about its variability — but I donít know, I donít have strong prejudices on it. I would guess that if there were wild changes, they would have been noticeable, very much, in stellar evolution. We can rule out some things, because of life on the earth and the constancy of the ocean.

DeVorkin:

Sedimentation rates. That sort of thing. OK. How do you think cosmological research will change over the next decade or so?

Spinrad:

It might prove that itís impossible to do anything on the global effects. I hope thatís not the case, and I think it might not be that pessimistic. You may have to just use local tests now, which are never very satisfactory, measurements of omega (Ω), as itís called. Things that Gumm and Turner and Gott have worked on. I hope we can do better than that. I donít know. The most pessimistic view is that we might have to abandon it, and just study evolution of things, galaxies, the way it was before. That should be interesting enough. I hope thatís not the case. I hope that some combination of the two will do. Certainly I donít feel like the naive view that you can use galaxies as test particles for cosmology, and that they live in isolation from one another, is any good. The Yale Conference helped dispel any doubts one might have in that area.

DeVorkin:

Would you describe the Yale Conference as a working symposium that helped identify the problems that existed?

Spinrad:

Well, it was a bandwagon, also. It was what you say. And then a less esthetic way to put it would be that it was kind of a bandwagon effect, which I generally hold some disdain for, but itís all right, this was a good one. The bandwagon was in the direction of people piling on the idea that galaxies interact with their neighbors very, very strongly, in a variety of ways, and I think that had not been stressed until the last couple of years. In the last couple of years, Van den Bergh, and — in particular — other people have taken up that tack, and I didnít think much of it at first, and now, I think a lot more of it. I think the Yale Conference accentuated it, perhaps unrealistically, but maybe not. Anyway, it was a good thing. Timely.

DeVorkin:

Ostriker and others talking about accretion of galaxies — this certainly messes up the picture, unless you can understand accretion rates, how a galaxy changes with time.

Spinrad:

Thatís right. It just depends on circumstance, whether itís got a big brother or not. Itís a much more happenstance thing. So you have to use some kind of statistical argument. Yes, itís sure more complex.

DeVorkin:

To your knowledge, is the awareness of the importance of accretion, is this what drove Beatrice Tinsley to looking at field galaxies, as opposed to cluster galaxies?

Spinrad:

I donít know. I donít think sheís using field galaxies that heavily.

DeVorkin:

OK. Well, you mentioned that in your own talk, and you also seemed to emphasize the importance of stripping in explaining the existence of SO galaxies.

Spinrad:

Yes. Now, that is not necessarily the only explanation. In fact, if you might remember, I suggested Gus Oemler and Harvey Butcherís phenomenon could be explained best that way, and then one of them, I think it was Harvey, jumped up and said, ďBut maybe thatís not the only way.Ē So I may not have in fact expressed their views quite as accurately as I should have. But yes, I think thatís a nice way, because itís simple. And itís understandable. And thereís even some pretty good theoretical work on the details of that. But it might not be right. Or it might not be the only way to do it. But some kind of interaction like this, which involves galactic dynamics as well as the stellar evolution, seems obviously that itís going to be important. And I donít think itís going to take too long to learn things about that, from an empirical point of view.

DeVorkin:

Any surprises from the conference? Anything that you werenít expecting?

Spinrad:

Well, I was very pleased and surprised to hear W. Sargentís two talks, one about the globular cluster velocities, and therefore a tentative mass for galaxies, and also, his work on the quasar absorption lines behind whatever galaxy that is, near 3C232, I think it is. That, in a way, wasnít quite part of the conference. In a way it was. So that was neat and new. So far as the conference itself was concerned, I sort of had pretty good previews, because I keep in touch with many of the people informally, but I didnít know all the details.

DeVorkin:

This was a conference that was different from any kind of an MS yearly meeting or anything like that.

Spinrad:

Yes. Completely. I donít go to those. I hate them. I wouldnít go to a seven simultaneous session meeting, ever again. I donít go to a lot of meetings. So this was very good, for me, to see a large number of people, even in the restricted amount of time that was involved. I donít like to go to normal meetings. Theyíre awful.

DeVorkin:

You would like to see more of these working meetings?

Spinrad:

Yes. Itís much more useful.

DeVorkin:

Yes. Could you have used more time during the meeting?

Spinrad:

A little bit. But it was a reasonable compromise.

DeVorkin:

OK. Considering the time that you needed back here?

Spinrad:

Yes, I canít be away from school during a normal teaching quarter for an infinite amount of time anyway. I miss enough through observing.

DeVorkin:

Right. Were you aware of the degree of clumpyness that people are getting worried about in the interstellar medium?

Spinrad:

Well, I hadnít heard it put the way L. Searle in particular put it, before. I thought that was, to me — not new, but it left more of an impression than other things have. I donít know if itís right. But I think it was well put, and I look forward to seeing it in writing, to look at it again.

DeVorkin:

OK. Are halos as massive as Martin Rees and others believe?

Spinrad:

I donít know. Halos exist, but theyíre masses, are still up for grabs. Iíve been working hard, in fact — one of the things Iíve been doing, with Ostriker and others, is mapping out the light distribution around spirals and halos, and thereís certainly light there, but thatís not going to account for the mass.

DeVorkin:

Another general question, then. Considering these kinds of problems. Weíre dealing with a medium that is not neutral hydrogen, in that case, but in other parts of galaxy studies and cosmology, do you see more advantages presently in radio astronomy or optical astronomy or space astronomy? Or do you think all three are needed at present rates of growth and funding?

Spinrad:

Oh, I donít know, theyíre all pretty hopeless without the others. I donít think thereís going to be any one surprise. I would guess, there will not be some new area that will come along and take over, working in the XYZ band, with somebodyís ďwidget.Ē I donít think thatís going to solve the problems. I think that it had its chance, some years ago, but now weíve explored some of these areas, at least a little bit, and it hasnít done anything new. So I suspect that just using them all, and people not being afraid to think completely freely and somewhat wildly, might be all one needs.

DeVorkin:

No one of the three is suffering from more attention to the other two?

Spinrad:

I donít know. I donít think so. Optical astronomy suffers only from the fact that there are too many astronomers, and not enough good sites, with telescopes on them. As you know, at California, we have only Lick Observatory, in a terrible place, and there are too many of us.

DeVorkin:

Are you interested in supporting the Junipero Serra site?

Spinrad:

Or whatever it turns out to be.

DeVorkin:

What are the prospects for that in the future?

Spinrad:

Slim.

DeVorkin:

Very slim, for anything?

Spinrad:

Slim for Junipero Serra. Finite but slim for anything. A combination of politics and a lot of bad luck.

DeVorkin:

Is there any increased use of Kitt Peak?

Spinrad:

Sure. Too much. But everybody else uses it too. The telescopes are oversubscribed by enormous factors. So we end up with a few nights a year, not enough to make a big dent in your program.

DeVorkin:

If you had any control over the type of use and future funding, directions for observational astronomy, what would you like to see done most?

Spinrad:

Oh, from a very egocentric point of view, I think it would be great if the University of California got a large telescope in a dark site, before Iím too old to use it. But you know, thatís the least necessary of these things. That would be nice. I think Iím against the domination of the National Observatories, in all phases of astronomy. think the universities should stay alive.

DeVorkin:

Is it really a negative effect upon university research? I donít quite understand.

Spinrad:

No, itís not a negative. It just doesnít allow them to grow in any way. I think it may be pretty negative.

DeVorkin:

It may allow, letís say, outposts of astronomy, where thereís one astronomer, two astronomers, to do some research.

Spinrad:

Oh yes. Sure. But from the University of California, or any large institution that has had some reputation in the field, the positive effect is small. I think the centralization of power in the National Observatories is also bad.

DeVorkin:

Instrumentation as a result suffers?

Spinrad:

I donít know. It just doesnít seem to work out very well. They donít think they get very much for their money.

DeVorkin:

OK. The final question, then, is the obvious one. How do you feel about the openness or closedness of the universe?

Spinrad:

OK, I think the evidence now is very poor, in either direction, but the strongest evidence that one can use, in a way that may or may not be safe, is the local stuff on the mean density of material, and that points strongly to an open universe, being quite small, therefore q0 also quite small, of the order of a few hundredths. The massive halos donít help. Itís hard to close the universe, by any of the local arguments. On the other hand, the straight cosmological arguments, just the classic tests of Hubble and Sandage, are not yet good enough, or the evolutionary corrections for them are much too large to give you a definitive result. So what Iíve been doing, just for fun, is to try to invert the situation, and measure galaxy evolution by demanding the universe be open, that is, believing: the small Ω values and q0 of a tenth or less, and forcing all the distant observations to fit that, and seeing if things look plausible. Plausibility is such a vague thing, that in fact, if Iíd demanded q0 of a half, or .6 or something slightly closed, it wouldnít have made that much difference. So you just canít tell yet. So I would lean slightly toward open, from the local tests, but would regard those as sufficiently local rather than global that I donít really believe them, and other than that, itís hard to tell directly yet. But I think maybe, if we work hard and are smart and maybe get lucky, that somehow, we can play galaxy evolution of one galaxy type against another, and somehow, understand that well enough that we can use the classical tests, extended out to larger red shifts, to get the cosmology, too. Thatís probably a little bit optimistic, but I would like to have that optimism, to kind of buoy up my own status, my own motivation to keep working on these rather difficult things Iím doing.

DeVorkin:

OK. Thank you very much.

[1]Struve wrote review articles for SKY AND TELESCOPE for many years.

[2]J. A. Hynek, ed. Astrophysics: A Topical Symposium (McGraw-Hill, 1951).

[3]Multi-Mirror Telescope being built by Smithsonian/Arizona at Kitt Peak.

[4]Astronomy I; II (Ginn, 1926, 1945).

[5]22-inch reflector.

[6]36-inch reflector.

[7]AJ 63 (1958) p. 510.

[8]ApJ 135 (1962) p. 715.

[9]H.C. Arp.

[10]IAU General Assembly, 1961 daily programs.

[11]Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

[12]PASP 74 (1962) p. 437; ApJ 135 (1962) p. 651; ICARUS 1 (1962) p. 266; Ast. J. 67 (1962) p. 587; PASP 75 (1963) p. 190; ApJ 137 (1963) p. 1319; ApJ 139 (1964) p. 1; ApJ 146 (1966) p. 331; 147 (1967) p. 743, etc.

[13]PASP 78 (1966) p. 367.

[14]Robinson, Schild, Schucking, eds. (Chicago, 1965).

[15]Pfeiffer, J., 1956, THE CHANGING UNIVERSE (London: Gollancz) pp. 107-109.

[16](Harvard, 1963).

[17]ApJ 165 (1971) p. 17.

[18]ApJ 159 (1970) p. 809.

[19]ApJ 162 (1970) p. 891.

[20]Palomar Sky Survey Atlas.

[21]ApJ 171 (1972) p. 463.