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Oral History Interview — Dr. Albrecht Unsöld


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Interview with Dr. Albrecht Unsöld
By Martin Harwit
In Kiel, Germany
February 24, 1984

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Albrecht Unsöld; February 24, 1984

ABSTRACT: Munich during the 1920s, working with Arnold Sommerfeld and Gregor Wentzel. Comments on fellow students: Walter Heitler, Rudolf Peierls, and Helmuth Hönl. Comments on Karl Schwarzschild (Gustav Mie and Hendrik van de Hulst) and Peter Debye. Comments on work with Henry N. Russell, Walter S. Adams relating to the chemical composition of the sun, spectra of the stars and on abundance of hydrogen in stars; Rupert Wildt's work in 1938 on the negative hydrogen ion. Guest professorship at Yerkes Observatory working with Otto Struve on Tau Scorpii; publication of his book, Physik der Sternatmosphären in 1938. Impressions of other astronomers: Cecelia Payne Gaposchkin, Edwin Milne, Harlow Shapley, Ernest Öpik, Fred Hoyle; reminiscing about his meeting with Arthur Eddington at University of Cambridge; the Chandrasekhar-Eddington confrontation; editor of Zeitschrift für Astronomie (Walter Grotrian, Emanuel J. von der Pahlen). Work on radio astronomy in Kiel, Theorie der Thermischen Radiofrequenzstrahlung article published after the War. Establishment of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Discussion of the controversial article in Physikalische Blätter (1980).