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Oral History Transcript — Sir Geoffrey Taylor

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Interview with Sir Geoffrey Taylor
By Thomas S. Kuhn
May 9, 1963


On 9 May, 1963, P.S. Kuhn dined with Professor Dirac at St. John’s College. Later in the evening Kuhn was introduced to Professor Sir G. I. Taylor, the man who first performed the experiment on photon interference. Sir Geoffry said that the experiment had been performed in 1909 and that he had actually set up the apparatus and done the work in his own “playroom” in London. Asked where the idea for the experiment came from, he said that he had just completed his work at Cambridge, and had asked J. J. Thomson for a suggestion for a piece of research. J. J. had a remarkably large number of ideas, and this was, one of them. Sir Geoffry was quite clear that J.J. Thomson was interested in the work because of his concern with Einstein — that Einstein’s name had figured markedly in the discussion. Also, he remembered that J. J. Thomson repeatedly mentioned Einstein in lectures at Cambridge, perhaps as early as 1907 or before. Sir Geoffry was not clear that these remarks in lecture would have had anything to do with relativity, but they certainly did treat of the photon.