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Interview of Leo Goldberg by David DeVorkin on 1983 February 22, Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics, College Park, MD USA, www.aip.org/history-programs/niels-bohr-library/oral-histories/25953
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This interview concentrates on Goldberg's involvement in the use of V-2's to obtain solar spectra, while serving as Director of McMath-Hulbert Observatory and Chairman of the Astronomy Department at the University of Michigan (1946-1960). The discussion centers on his contacts with Donald Howard Menzel, Richard Tousey, and Lyman Spitzer, and Naval Research Laboratory and the Office of Naval Research, in an attempt to delineate some of the organizational relationships which arose from the availability of the V-2 rockets. Also discussed is Goldberg's administrative experience with NASA, and his involvement with Kitt Peak National Observatory.
Since you have already been interviewed by Spencer Weart, I'm picking up a number of themes important to me and will ask you to expand on them. Could we start with the Harvard summer school. I would like to know your recollections as a graduate student at Harvard of that summer school experience. Is it something that stands out clearly in your mind?
Oh, very much so. It was a very exciting time. Actually, there was more than one summer school. The first one was in 1935; then there was a second in 1936, which was the year of the Harvard tercentenary celebration. And then I seem to remember that they sort of petered out after that, but there were one or two additional ones between 1936 and 1940. The one that really stands out in my memory, well, really there are two, 1935 and 1936, although I have some difficulty in giving you the details of what went on at each of those separately. They were rather long summer schools. The Harvard University summer school at that time, I believe, was six to eight weeks in duration. The astronomy part of it, which was carried out at the Harvard Observatory, I think lasted just about as long. I remember that it was my first exposure to distinguished foreign astronomers. I had met a few of the locals, of course, like Otto Struve and Henry Norris Russell; but I hadn't met any of the Europeans. I remember that the star of the 1935 summer session was Antonie Pannekoek from Amsterdam. He was a very lively, stimulating man. He came again in 1936 for the tercentenary and gave some more lectures.
So Pannekoek was the high point?
Yes, he was there for the entire summer. In addition, I remember lectures by Otto Struve, Henry Norris Russell, Paul Merrill, Brian O'Brien, the physicist from Rochester who had done high-altitude ballooning; Dean McLaughlin of the University of Michigan, Pol Swings, and Ira Bowen.
A lot of people,
You can understand why a first-year or second-year graduate student would be very excited.
Let me ask particularly about Bowen. I know that he taught a joint course on cosmic physics with Donald Menzel in the 1935 or 1936 session, I think the 1935 session. I'd be very interested to know if this had any influence on Donald Menzel's development of that long series of papers with you, Lawrence Aller, and James Baker on radiation processes in gaseous nebula?
I rather doubt that. I've never heard Donald talk about the motivation for that series, but it seems to me it was the natural outgrowth of work that he had done much earlier. You may know that he and H. Zanstra independently proposed a method for deriving the temperatures of central stars of planetary nebula by measurement of the Balmer series.
Yes, that was 1930?
Yes, about 1930.
I see, it was more a direct derivation there.
Yes. My own interpretation of that experience is that Donald Menzel spent six years in California at the Lick Observatory totally cut off from stimulating ideas in the new astrophysics while on the mountain. But every so often he would go to Berkeley to give lectures; and there he came into contact with physicists, including J. Robert Oppenheimer, who at that time had a split appointment between California and Caltech, and R. T. Birge. Menzel and Birge wrote that famous paper on deuterium. You can see the influence of those physicists in the big paper that he published in 1931 on the analysis of W.W. Campbell's solar eclipse spectra. The way I see it is that he was a very imaginative man with a very fertile mind, one hunch after another; but in California he had no opportunity to exploit those hunches. And suddenly he was transplanted to Harvard where he had a number of very good students to work with, and I think his research just flowered in that environment.
I'm trying to find the things that happened in the Harvard summer schools that stimulated further research interests. That's why I brought up that question. Is there anything in your own mind?
I don't recall that it stimulated my research in any way, because as young as I was, I was already started in the direction of doing atomic physics, calculating theoretical transition probabilities, and applying them to stellar and solar spectra. That was something that Menzel got me started on in my senior year in college, which would have been 1933-34. And indeed, as a result of the work I had already done, by July 1935, my first big paper on multiplet strengths appeared in the ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL,and I was one of the few people in that group familiar with the terminology of atomic physics, which a number of these visiting lecturers, like Bowen and Russell, were using. And so it was a very proud experience for me. I was invited to give a series of lectures at the beginning of the summer schools of 1935 and 1936, in which I described the elements of the vector model of the atom. They paid me for it. (laugh). Otherwise, I don't recall their having any direct effect on my own work.
Do you have any knowledge of its effect on other research interests, other people?
I'm afraid I don't. It's so far back. It might have. You know, you might ask Jim Baker, or Lawrence Aller — no, I don't think Aller was there. He certainly wasn't there in 1935. But Greenstein was there, and Baker.
Let me ask you two other questions of direct interest to my research during this period. You had courses from Donald Menzel, and came in close contact with him. And of course, you were in the very area that his own teacher, Henry Norris Russell, was very active in during the '20's. I'd be very interested in your recollections of your impression of Russell's work in 1929 on the composition of the solar atmosphere. At that time did you consider a landmark paper? Did it convince you that hydrogen was very abundant in the sun? What was Donald Menzel's role in that paper? Do you have any recollections from that time?
Well, let's see. I should also mention that I think one of the people at Princeton who stimulated Menzel quite a lot was John Q. Stewart. And I believe John Q. Stewart — I may be wrong here, but I believe — he was the first person to derive an expression for the atomic absorption coefficient with radiation damping. For some reason or other — I don't know the details — he was not given proper credit for that early work, which was as far back as 1922, I think. It tended to turn him off, to turn him away from astrophysics. And Donald always felt that Stewart would have had a very brilliant career in astrophysics. I don't know what happened, if it was Russell who didn't appreciate it, or somebody else. Anyway, I know Donald admired Stewart greatly. Russell was very clever in making use of the Rowland intensities in his work on solar abundances. The Rowland intensities were the only sort of quantitative data available. They were just eye estimates of intensity. And the atomic physics that he used was simply the relative strengths of lines in multiplets, which was the only thing available at that time. He was very ingenious in using those multiplet strengths to calibrate the Rowland intensity scale, in terms of the so-called number of absorbing atoms above the photosphere.
But it was a pretty primitive investigation, and I think what is so surprising about it is how it yielded the first approximation. I think we were all pretty well convinced by Russell's work that hydrogen was all that abundant, as compared with the other elements.
Donald Menzel has a recollection in a book, HISTORY AND EDUCATION IN MODERN ASTRONOMY, that during a particular Russell visit to Lick Observatory, Menzel's own work on the chromosphere, showing that the mean molecular weight at the base of the chromosphere was quite low, was what convinced Russell that hydrogen, indeed, was very abundant. Did Menzel ever talk about this with you?
No, except that Menzel always pointed out that he had derived the abundances of the elements from his eclipse spectra. But his publication didn't come out until 1931, although he was working on it for six years.
Yes. Let me jump to one other question during that later period, back to the summer school. You mentioned a lot of incredibly impressive names, but there is one person who did speak also along the same lines as O'Brien; and that was Meghnad Saha.
Could you give me recollections of Saha, his presentation. It was on a stratospheric solar observatory.
Oh yes. I think it was in 1937. I don't know that it was in connection with the summer school. I. think he gave a colloquium in the Observatory, and I remember that fairly well, considering how long ago it was. I attended the colloquium. First of all he gave some estimates of the altitude of the ozone layer, which turned out to be too low. Then he made calculations that showed that you could get a reasonable instrument up in a balloon and loft it above the ozone layer. Then he talked about what you would expect to observe. There was one thing wrong with it, as I recall. He said in effect, "wouldn't it be wonderful if we could observe the Lyman series of hydrogen in the solar chromosphere." But you would have to go considerably higher to observe the Lyman series. The ozone only absorbs down to 2100 or 2200 angstroms. We don't have to rely on our memories to find out what he said, you know; it was published. You've seen it, I'm sure.
I'm interested very much in your reaction and the reaction of others. Was O'Brien there by any chance?
I doubt it.
Okay. Then this was separate?
Yes, well, I was very excited by it. It was the first time that I thought at all seriously about haw exciting it would be to make observations above the atmosphere.
Do you recall any discussions with Saha after that time or with your friends at Harvard about the possibility of, indeed, doing a project like this?
No, I don't think there were any. Nobody at Harvard was doing balloon work at that time and nobody had the resources either. That was a pretty poor place financially at that time.
Was he planning to do it?
No, I don't think so, no.
Okay. Had you known about the Explorer I and II, manned balloon gondolas going up into the atmosphere?
You mean Picard?
Yes, I knew about that. In fact, that's described in the HANDBUCH DER ASTROPHYSIK, I believe. I'm pretty sure I read about it there for the first time. I may be wrong, but you know, it's funny how you associate things.
That would be the seven-volume series in the 1930's?
Yes, that's right. This experiment, I would guess, was made in the mid-1930's.
I'll certainly try to track it down now. We have the HANDBUCH.
Yes, I have a distinct recollection of seeing some results in which it showed that you had to go considerably higher, that they were able to extend the spectrum just a little bit, maybe 50 or 100 angstroms.
To your recollection — I haven't asked Dr. Spitzer this obviously, but was he at this colloquium with Saha? No, I guess, 1937 was too early for him.
No, I think Lyman got his degree the same year I did in 1938. Then he was there in 1938-39 at Harvard. In fact, we shared an office.
Let me move then into the V-2 and the wartime era. These are questions based upon my reading of your oral history with Spencer Weart, and also from some of the letters that we have here. I know that you did wartime work in developing pneumatic control systems. I'm wondering if this work had any influence on your postwar research.
None whatever. In fact, it might have had an influence in the sense that I was very discouraged about the prospects for jobs in astronomy. I was determined not to stay at the McMath-Hulbert Observatory.
Why was that?
Robert McMath ran that place like a factory. I just didn't enjoy working for him. Once I moved to Ann Arbor as chairman of the department, then our relations were quite different. While it required considerable expenditure of time on my part, to keep him informed, and to keep him happy, still I didn't like the idea of being a lowly employee of his, because as I say, he came from the automobile industry of Detroit, and there was no sense of collegiality there.
He was doing it for the love of it; wasn't he?
Oh, he was doing it — we're digressing a little bit (laughs) but I could go on and on about McMath. In a sense, he was doing it for the love of it, but I think that he badly needed to be in the limelight, and that's what he was doing it for. He never got enough credit for anything he did. He was always grabbing for more. And you know, I can say a lot of positive things about him, too. I was trying to explain why I didn't think there was any future for me in astronomy there. And it so happened that, at the end of the war, I got an offer from the Franklin Institute who were carrying on that kind of work afterwards.
That very same kind of work?
Pneumatics, for military purposes. I thought quite awhile about that; but in the end, I just couldn't face up to the idea of leaving astronomy.
Understood. Did you talk to anyone about that, your teachers, Donald Menzel, anyone else?
No. I don't recall that I did.
Let's move on then, to that postwar period. Now, you have mentioned that you had a long talk with Lyman Spitzer on a train trip somewhere. This is in a letter written to you, May 10, 1946, in which he recalls the same train trip.
He said, "it's been a long while since we had that long talk on the train." Then he brought up the possibility of working on V-2 spectra. Do you recall what train trip that would have been.
Until you just mentioned it, I had no recollection of how Lyman and I began talking about this, and I don't remember the train trip.
Okay. You clearly don't remember anything you discussed on the train.
No, because there were lots of train trips. That's the way we traveled in those days. He thought it was in — oh, I see, the letter.
The letter was in May, and the indication was that the train trip was quite a bit of time before that time.
I just don't know where we would have been going together, because Lyman was at Yale and I was at Michigan. In any case, all I can remember is that we began talking seriously in the spring; and it was my idea that I would leave McMath-Hulbert, and I was looking around for possible employment. And this prospect, of course, was very exciting.
Had you known about the possibility of using V-2s for science before your contact with Spitzer?
Oh yes, before that. I didn't bring those letters along, but Donald Menzel had been in the Navy in Washington, and he knew people in ORI, the Office of Research and Inventions.
This is what I wanted to know.
There was a Commander Dyke, who was a key person, and I have some correspondence back home. If any of this is of interest to you, as we go along, if you make a note, I'll remember to get it. Donald wrote me about the possibility of the Navy supporting such a program, using V-2s to observe solar radiation, and encouraged me. He knew of my interest, and we talked about it. He encouraged me to write Cmdr. Dyke a letter, and I did. I have a copy of a letter that he wrote to Cmdr. Dyke, criticizing Tousey's idea of using a little glass bead at the entrance to the spectrograph, I remember.
Really! Yes, because he used a lithium fluoride bead, and he was the only one to do so.
Donald thought he had a better way of doing it. I have forgotten the details, but it's described in this letter.
Okay. That could be extremely valuable. Richard Tousey has mentioned that they had very close contact with Donald Menzel. As yet, I have not seen any letters that indicate this. These letters would be very useful.
I see, yes, so I definitely have those. I don't have a lot, but there are two or three. He writes me, and he writes Dyke, and I write Dyke, and I write him, all about this. I don't recall exactly when it was, but it was before I began talking to Lyman, I'm pretty sure, although not much before.
Well, it was all happening during this very time. So it was not the first discussion in your mind on the use of V-2s.
Had you been seriously interested in going at it before Lyman Spitzer contacted you? Or was there something in his contact that helped clarify what you would do?
Well, if I can recall those days, I didn't have any idea of how to go about it. Don't forget I was a very junior person. So was Lyman, but Lyman had a faculty position at a university, and all through the war I was sort of an assistant. Maybe I had the title of research associate eventually; and at the very end of the war I was appointed assistant professor, but my duties were the same. I mean, I still did what McMath thought I ought to do, although I shouldn't be that unfair about it. If I had some research ideas I was free to carry them out. But I didn't have any power, influence, or connections. I stayed at Michigan all through the war working on these devices. So I don't think it would have occurred to me to start up a project. I wanted to get in on a project and if I could get the Navy, you know, to sort of sponsor a project, I would have wanted to be a part of it. So, when Lyman came along with the proposal to establish a laboratory at Yale to design and build payloads for high altitude rockets, essentially to do high-altitude spectroscopy I would have been ready to jump, except that I wanted a decent position from the university. I wanted an associate professorship. I look back on that now, I don't know whatever made me that aggressive (laughs) you know, perhaps because I had lost five years in the war. I hadn't really done any astronomy up until that point.
Did Lyman Spitzer feel the same way that you did, losing time in the war, wanting to get going on something?
Oh yes. He supported my bargaining position with Yale as well.
Yes. I know that you got the associate professorship.
That's right. If it had come a month or two earlier, I would have taken it. But you may or may not know what happened in the meantime. Michigan had been carrying on a search for a successor to Heber D. Curtis. They had a high-level committee, people like Ira Bowen, Shapley, and Shane. I recall Jason Nassau; maybe Struve, also. And after they got through offering the position, first to Bowen and then to Bart Bok, both of whom declined, somebody put my name in (laughs). There was just such a gap between me at that time and those people. I rather suspect that Judge Hulbert had a lot to do with that. I always thought. Anyway, that was so overwhelming that it came along just about at the time that Yale decided to offer me the associate professorship.
Yes. You admitted to Lyman Spitzer that the associate professorship offer helped you get the directorship at Michigan. Is this the recollection that sounds right to you?
It probably did. I think the offer from Yale must have come just before I was offered the directorship.
It was within four days. (laugh). Something happened.
I see. I had forgotten it was that close.
It was very, very close.
I do recall the dean calling me in to his office, and practically bowling me over. And then, as I was leaving his office, he was a Harvard class of '04, a very distinguished romance language scholar, Hayward Keniston, called out to me — I liked him very much; he was a great man — "Now, Goldberg," he said, "don't get the idea that New Haven is anything like Cambridge. It's not." (laugh). So I guess the Yale offer must have played a part. To jump all the way from an assistant professor, a new assistant professor, to director of the observatory was quite a jump.
I know I'm jumping ahead a little bit, because I want to go through the development of the program that you and Lyman Spitzer had developed, but at this point I think it is right to ask: There was no question in your mind that the directorship was what you wanted?
Yes, oh yes.
Why? Can you give me your thoughts on that?
Well, I can't reproduce my thoughts at that time. It just seemed to me that I would have a better opportunity to make a contribution in that job than in going to Yale to work with rockets. It just seemed like such a great opportunity for a young person.
Certainly the Michigan job, absolutely. But I'm wondering if the very idea of working with rockets had something to do with it. Was it something you felt comfortable jumping into, if the Michigan offer hadn't come through? Or did you ever get yourself wondering about going off into something very different like this?
No, I had no worries about that. I wasn't looking for a way out. I was not just ready to accept the Yale offer because there was nothing better available. I didn't have the faintest idea how you went about building equipment for rockets, but I was ready to find out.
Does that have something to do possibly with some of the other people who were involved; and also possibly your contacts at Michigan? Did you have early contacts with Dow and later on with M.H. Nichols, both of whom were on the V-2 panel?
I don't recall having very early contacts with Dow. In fact, I just put the idea of rockets out of my mind, except for this project that Lyman and I had worked out. But the idea of actually getting involved in rocketry I just put aside, because there were so many things to occupy my attention. The Michigan department was in a very bad state at that point, and needed rebuilding. And there were exciting things that began to happen after that, at McMath-Hulbert, when McMath got one of the first lead sulfide cells (from R.J. Cashman at Northwestern Technological Institute) and with which we extended the solar spectrum in the other direction to the high resolution infrared. That was very exciting. There were lots of problems to occupy my attention. I knew that Bill Dow and one or two other people at Michigan were involved with the rocket panel; but I didn't really have any serious contact with Bill until I started up radio astronomy at Michigan, in collaboration with the Department of Electrical Engineering.
Yes. That's quite a way distant.
That was around 1955
Let's go back and retrace some of these steps in your collaboration with Spitzer, if that's all right. He wrote you on July 1, 1946 saying that a date had been set for your first meeting down in Washington, D. C. with the ONR, or ORI people: Slack, Waterman, Spitzer, yourself and possibly a few others. And he noted to you that in June there was a V-2 shot that had a spectrograph on it, that the thing crashed, and they never found it. This made the Navy very skeptical. Dr. Spitzer discussed data retrieval; and that Slack suggested to Spitzer that his group consider research in telemetry, especially the telemetry of spectroscopic data. Spitzer then noted his ignorance of photocells and electronics. How did you feel about that? Do you have any recollections of that?
No, only that I was certainly ignorant of those subjects. In fact, I haven't come across those letters, I mean, I may have them, but as I say, I didn't have time to make a very systematic search. Moving as I did from McMath-Hulbert to Ann Arbor and then Ann Arbor to Harvard, and so on, some things were lost. Anyway, no, I just don't recall this at all.
That's understandable. Do you recall that June 1946 crash, though, and the problem of worrying about the success of data retrieval?
There was no great overriding problem for you about that?
No, no. I don't recall that I thought that was any serious problem in the long run.
Do you recall the actual meeting itself or the trip down to Washington in mid-July, 1946? Dr. Spitzer had a memorandum to himself in his files that indicated that he and you had some meetings with people from Douglas Aircraft. Then there were other meetings with Army Air Force people. And finally, there was the bit ORI meeting with Waterman and Slack. Do you have any recollections of those?
The only thing I recall about that trip to Washington was sitting in a park with Lyman, and discussing the situation. I don't recall the meetings with the Navy people. I very clearly recall the meeting with David Griggs at Rand, and Griggs pointing to a big thick report on his desk, which was a report on a study of the feasibility of launching artificial satellites and keeping them up.  I remember his telling us that it was classified, but he could say that one of the principal conclusions was that we could start tomorrow and build and launch such a satellite, and keep it up for anywhere between a few weeks and a year: that being a measure of the uncertainty about the density of the upper atmosphere, but that it would be very expensive, of the order of a billion dollars.
A billion. I think that's what he said. I may be wrong. I may be wrong about that, but it was so expensive that it wasn't worth doing right now, and that we had better wait until we knew more until the technology had been better developed.
That included the rocket technology?
Everything, yes. So that's what I remember most about that visit to Washington.
I'm curious as to what the nature of the meeting was about, and I have very little to go on. Dr. Spitzer doesn't remember the specific meeting, either. Richard Tousey does, and the evidence seems to suggest from the memoranda that I have found, and a few others, that it wasn't the most pleasant meeting at ORI.
Waterman and Slack were quite supportive, but the NRL people, like Richard Tousey, were not. And I'm wondering if you have any general recollections during this period of what the NRL
You mean support of our work?
Of the outside group of academic scientists coming in and analyzing the data. And as they were saying, research on UV filters, research on telemetry of astronomical information, and theoretical research on the absorption of UV in the upper atmosphere and the intensity of the UV.
At that time, in July of 1946, we were actually talking about building and launching our own equipment; weren't we?
Initially, I believe so.
Dick Tousey over the years has been a friend of mine — we've had very good relationships. I do remember that at the beginning, he was hostile, and looked upon us as outsiders. And that's one of the reasons why, afterwards when we tried to carry out this cooperative project, it just didn't fly; because we were relying on Tousey's data. Our idea was to work on the analysis of the rocket data that would come out of this V-2 program, which meant Tousey's data. And we felt that it was important to do that, because, as far as we knew, Tousey had no interest in astrophysical analysis. He was not an astronomer himself. And we hadn't heard that he was planning to build up any kind of a group for the analysis of the data. In fact, he was very slow in doing it. I mean, for quite a number of years Dick published what amounted to, "gee whizz, pretty pictures," for example: We were the first to extend the spectrum down to here, and we're the first to make a spectroheliogram in Lyman alpha, etc., etc." But it didn't really give us any quantitative knowledge about the sun. Although my recollection isn't terribly sharp, because it's been blurred by all these years in which I've worked with Dick on committees, and ATM, and the OSO program, I certainly do recall that his attitude was quite negative.
Yes. That is consistent.
Yes. And in fact, I don't know if I ever told you, that negativism on Dick's part cropped up again in the mid-1960's.
No. If you want, you can jump to that. It's all right.
All right. By that time we were fairly well established at Harvard with a spectroscopic laboratory and a group that was trying to develop and build instruments for the OSOs. We had had some problems. We were the victims of that fire at Cape Kennedy. But Tousey had recently published some relatively high resolution spectra in the 1500 angstrom region. Most of it was unidentified, and it occurred to me: 1) that carbon monoxide should have very strong bands. We knew that carbon monoxide had strong bands in that part of the spectrum from the very fact that we could observe the vibration-rotation bands of CO at two microns, which we identified for the first time at McMath-Hullbert. CO in the sun was first identified at McMath-Hulbert by me, actually, in one early application of a lead sulfide cell. That was way back in the 1950s. So the electronic bands ought to be very strong. 2) was that in the laboratory my associates, Reeves and Parkinson, used a shock tube with a flash lamp to provide a continuum to observe absorption spectra at temperatures that were comparable to the solar temperature. So I thought they ought to put in some CO and get the absorption spectrum of CO. Now, Tousey, in one of his early papers, talks about looking for CO and not finding it, but it was really rather naive in a way; he had used CO at room temperature, and gotten the absorption spectrum at room temperature, and was comparing it with the sun, you know, which was at a temperature of 5,000 degrees. It was ridiculous.
After a while Reeves and Parkinson did the experiment, and they got these nice spectra. So I just looked at them and compared them with the photographs of the solar spectrum, and I could see band heads that would have matched. But I thought we should make it more quantitative, so I called up Dick and said, "how's about giving us a tracing of that spectrum you published." He didn't see any reason why not, and so I waited and nothing happened. And two or three weeks later I saw him at a meeting of the AAS in Kentucky; and I said, "well, how about those tracings, Dick?" He said, "well, (he had that way of sort of shifting his weight from one foot to the other), I found out after talking to you that Ken Widing was calculating those bands theoretically, and he's going to try to identify them from his calculated band profiles." I was really annoyed at that, and I went back and we made a transparency of his published spectrum and traced it, and satisfied ourselves that a number of the band heads matched. And we published it. That was a very important part of the spectrum. That's the region in which radiation comes from the temperature minimum between the photosphere and the chromosphere. But, more important, I suggested to Reeves and Parkinson that they ought to start a rocket program of their own and get photoelectric quantitative measurements. And so Parkinson did; it's become a different program, but it is still going on.
No, at Harvard. They are doing things like getting the profile of Lyman alpha in the corona, and using it to determine the temperature of the corona. It's a very advanced, sophisticated program, but it started that way, because we weren't going to depend on Tousey for rocket data.
Yes. And this was the same kind of problem you had then, in the late '40's, asking him for data?
Did you ever get any data?
Yes, later we did, after we published the paper, and he saw that we had the identification. It was clear. Then later, one of my students, John Rich, did a doctoral thesis on the CO bands in the ultraviolet, and at that time Dick was very cooperative; and he actually sent tracings which John used in his thesis.
Can we go back to the '40's now?
Did you ever get photographic spectra from him in the '40's, in your Michigan ONR project?
I don't recall that we ever did. One thing I found out, but I didn't know it when we started all of this, was that Charlotte Moore Sitterley had been drawn in by Dick to make identifications. That was a very important step, because in the field of identification, she was unsurpassed. After all, that's a very important first step, in the analysis. If you're going to do analysis, you want to do identifications. So that had been sort of preempted. It became clear that we weren't going to get much from Dick. And so the character of that project soon changed, and for awhile I would guess, let's see, from about, certainly 1946-47, I brought Keith Pierce from Berkeley. He had just gotten his degree. Keith worked with me for a year with ONR support on the general analysis of the solar spectrum regardless of what region. We were working with visible spectra.
Visible spectra, because we couldn't really get the ultraviolet spectra. And Menzel had a student, Barbara Bell, who actually did a doctoral thesis with support from that project. Lyman sort of dropped out. Lyman was primarily interested in the ultraviolet. I can't recall the exact moment at which, you know, he said, "you might as well leave me out of it;" but he wasn't interested in just working on the visible solar spectrum.
Yes. Was he also getting more involved with Project Matterhorn at that time?
I don't think it was that. You see, very shortly after I became director at Michigan, he was offered Henry Norris Russell's position.
That's right. So he was busy.
Yes, he was busy. In fact, heaven only knows what would have happened, if I had gone. Maybe we would both have gone to Princeton and continued this work. I don't know.
I see. Let me try to take you back to another meeting that you had. This was on November 20, 1946, a month after the first successful V-2 spectra came back, Tousey's spectra. You were in D. C., either you or Dr. Spitzer, but I think it was you, talking with Charlotte Moore, Meggers, and Kiess
And Miss Steele.
I don't remember that, but go ahead.
In your letter of November 21 to Donald Menzel — this is where I'm getting this — you noted that the National Bureau of Standards people had heard absolutely nothing of the 10 October flight. You were not surprised at that, but you noted that characteristically Charlotte Moore was "annoyed". And I would be very interested to know about this; because what you just told me a few minutes ago is what she told me. She heard about the October 10th flight on the radio, and called Richard Tousey, offering her services. Now, I don't know if that was before November 20th or whatever, but it sounds like (laughs) there was some intrigue going on here.
Is there any way that you can help me reconstruct what was going on?
I don't know; unless I can do some more digging, you see, I didn't look in my Menzel folder. I haven't looked in that at all. I was just looking for Navy stuff, and then I came across the National Bureau of Standards, Sitterley, and I think that by that time Charlotte was already — well, I have that, August 28, 1946 and December 2. 1946 — contacted directly by NRL, "I hope soon to make a definite proposal that could bring you into the picture."
Yes, so you are reading from December 2nd. Here is November 21st, a letter that you wrote directly to Lyman Spitzer and to Donald Menzel. (Pause)
Yes, I'm amused by this: "what must be done is to predict the spectrum, making more or less trial and error adjustments until the computed spectrum agrees in appearance with that shown by the microphotometer tracing." I mean, that's precisely what people have been doing for years now in the spectra of globular clusters in doing synthetic spectra. Only now you can do it so much more easily with computers and model atmospheres, but this is, of course, the project we visualized on that first job. Yes, I guess Helen Steele was working for the Bureau. She joined Charlotte Sitterley. She got a Ph.D. at Harvard.
It was in this paragraph here, that second paragraph.
Yes. I know. Well, I could try I'll probably find this letter, if I look under Menzel. And I could try to find more.
That would be great.
Incidentally, what I thought, if you like, I could leave this with you to xerox. It spills over into our infrared work. And you might find that of some interest, too, because that was pioneering work.
Right. This is your file of correspondence with Charlotte Moore from December of 1946 to April 28, 1949. I really would appreciate that. We would xerox it and send you back the originals.
Yes. And the other thing is, something I have marked "Naval Research Laboratory," containing various correspondence with Tousey and Eric Durand, from July 2, 1947 to January 20, 1949.
These are his replies as well.
Oh, wait a minute. I spoke too soon. Here, yes, is a letter from Tousey.
What is this?
He says, 12 January 1949, "Sheet B is the densitometer trace of our best resolved spectrum obtained on March 7, 1947. I have marked approximate wavelengths, and you will be able to identify the various lines, if you wish, with the aid of our paper in the January ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL. The January ASTRO-PHYSICAL JOUNAL should contain a portion of this spectrum reduced to intensities." So he talks about publishing the material on intensities and ozones eventually. So eventually, he did send data. This letter is very cordial, very cordial. He talks about his visit to McMath-Hulbert. It was very enjoyable, and gives his best regards to McMath and Aller.
And there is some early correspondence here with Eric Durand, also, who was much more forthcoming in the beginning than Dick. Goldberg (reading letter): This one, dated, October 8, 1947, says "Dear Dick, The Navy's astrophysical consultants feel that much too long a time has elapsed since their last visit. All of us did a lot of traveling during the summer, and it was impossible to get together in Washington. Right now, Menzel, Spitzer and I are planning a visit to Washington on the weekend, beginning Friday, October 31st, I would like very much to know whether you and Dr. Durand expect to be in town on that date."
I don't know what I was doing, inquiring about the possibility of Western Union constructing a special hydrogen arc lamp and a quartz bulb.
That sounds like an ultraviolet standard.
Yes. And here's a letter from Western Union Telegraph Company to me.
(Reading from letter): July 21, 1947. "I see no reason why it can't be done." Yes. Well, that will be an interesting file to work on, too; it's quite valuable.
Let me ask you a general question about the state of knowledge of the ultraviolet continuum of the sun, and its role as one of the problems that had been thought to be something that the V-2 rockets could solve. There was a question as to what the brightness of the UV continuum was, and the source of the ionizing radiation of the earth's ionosphere. Jesse Greenstein had predicted in early papers in about 1943 that the ultraviolet continuum would actually be depressed and not be tremendously in excess over the black body temperature of 5,000 degrees, as a lot of people seemed to think. What were your general feelings at that time about this problem? How high was it on your list of priorities of things to find out about?
Well, the word continuum isn't quite the right word to use. When we talk about "continuum," one generally thinks of the radiation from the photosphere.
Right. And this is the chromosphere. Isn't it?
Yes, and it doesn't include the emission in the form of lines from the chromosphere and corona, and also the Lyman continuum, the continuum beyond the limit of the Lyman series, from 912 angstroms shortward, which comes from the chromosphere and it's got nothing to do with the photosphere. Now Jesse Greenstein's prediction at that time was 100 percent wrong, which he himself has admitted with considerable chagrin, because even though it was done after the high temperature of the corona was known, he omitted the emission lines from the corona and chromosphere completely. He confined his calculation only to the absorption spectrum of the photosphere.
Yes. That's why he got the depressed spectrum?
Sure, he would calculate that as you go to the ultraviolet, the absorption lines would get stronger and stronger, so that you would see radiation from the very top of the photosphere where the temperature was about 4500 degrees. And indeed, if you make measurements, that happens down around 1600 angstroms. You find that the brightness temperature drops, and it's about in the region where radiation is coming just from the top of the photosphere. The temperature is around 4500 degrees, or a little less; whereas, in the visible it is 6,000 degrees, because it's coming from deeper layers. So yes, he's correct, that part of the radiation peters out; but at the same time, these big emission lines start coming up and they predominate. They produce the observed ionospheric effects, and so does the x-ray radiation, and Lyman alpha, which is important for the higher ionosphere. The D-layer is pretty much controlled by x-rays.
Can you recall when this picture came clear to you?
Oh yes, I would say I wasn't particularly original about this, but there was a paper in 1950 in the Monthly NOTICES by Woolley and Allen, in which they derived a very crude model of the interface between the photosphere and the corona. They showed that ionospheric measurements required that there be a very abrupt rise in temperature, which they put out at a height of about 6,000 kilometers. Well, in reality, it is at about 2,000 kilometers. But that abrupt rise has been confirmed. That's the so-called transition region between the chromosphere and the corona, which occurs at a height of about 2,000 kilometers. And that was published in 1950, and they predicted all the strong emission lines, magnesium-10 at 600 angstroms, and cxygen-6 at 1,000 angstroms. And it was pretty clear at that moment.
But before that time nobody really knew, and so what would you say about the V-2 rocket measurements of the ultraviolet down to about 2100 angstroms?
It didn't tell you much. It didn't tell you anything about the ionosphere, because that was simply the spectrum of the photosphere, extrapolated.
At first it seemed to confirm Greenstein. Is my impression correct?
Yes, I suppose so. Well, I don't know that they actually referred to Greenstein's paper.
To anyone else? No, I don't think so.
I don't know, but Greenstein wasn't confining himself, you know, to 2100 angstroms. He actually just didn't think of the emission spectrum.
Did he admit that to you, that he didn't think of it?
Oh, he's admitted that, sure. He said it at meetings and committee meetings when he also talked about his bad experience which turned him against space research. You know, he had this one rocket experiment when the rocket failed, and that was it. Remember, I was telling you, in Boston, about how some of us had a much harder time and we didn't quit. (laughs). When we got into the OSO program, we had all those disasters.
Oh, Yes. But I wonder whether his disaster at that time soured any of you from continuing on working?
Oh, no. I wouldn't have thought of it in that way at all. It was just part of the growing pains of the space age. I mean, these things were bound to happen.
Did you know about it at the time when it happened in 1947?
Yes, I think I did.
Okay. Let me ask you about some of the people who either were consultants with you and Lyman Spitzer, or who were going to work with you. What was your contact with Joseph Boyce at NYU?
Joe Boyce was originally trained as a spectroscopist at Princeton with K.T. Compton, and he came to MIT as an assistant professor. Maybe he became a professor eventually. He fell in with Donald Menzel, and Donald was always interacting with, and looking for physicists, and he had the right idea. So Joe and Donald were the co-directors of the Harvard-MIT Eclipse Expedition to Siberia in 1936. I knew Joe in those days. Obviously, he was around the observatory. He married Emily Hughes, who was an astronomer working with the Harvard Observatory. I had known Joe off and on, I guess, during the war he went over to MIT. K.T. Compton, in the meantime, had become president of MIT, and so Boyce worked for K.T. Compton on the OSRD and the NDRC during the war, and I used to run into him there. I had pretty steady contact with him. And well, I guess Donald Menzel thought that Joe would be a useful consultant. He had worked on the vacuum ultraviolet spectra in the laboratory. By that time he may even have been a dean at NYU.
He certainly was quite senior there, I know that from his letterhead. Then we don't have to talk about Donald Menzel; he was one of the other consultants. What about Dr. Roderic Scott?
Well, I can't think of the reasons why we brought in people like Rod. Rod at that time — was he already at Perkin Elmer, or maybe not? Rod was a graduate student with me at Harvard, a very clever fellow instrumentally, bright and very gifted experimentally. He and I pulled off a tour de force, in the summer of 1939, when we took over a big aluminizing tank that Shapley and John Wulff at MIT had produced. Somehow Shapley raised some money and got Wulff to design this big aluminizing tank. Aluminizing was quite new at the time; and it was a disaster, and Wulff came out there all of one summer and tried to fix the leaks and didn't succeed. He had designed this thing with a coating of stainless steel inside. The idea was that the stainless steel would not have any pores in it, you see. Normally, you would use ordinary rolled steel. He was going to do it right, knowing that the thing was porous as could be. And anyway, Rod and I took it over the following summer, and we finally, with some help, very good help and advice from a physicist at Brown, Al Focke, coated the whole inside of the thing with black wax. It was a 72-inch diameter tank, a 6-foot tank. We worked in the hot summer with blow torches; smeared this black Apiezon-W wax, and we aluminized everything in sight. (laugh). So I have a great respect for Rod. He eventually went to Perkin-Elmer, and for many years was vice-president,
Yes, his name has come up in connection with the Space Telescope mirror, and generally with the Space Telescope. He's retired now, I understand.
I would think so, yes, just about.
Do you think he would be an interesting person to talk to regarding his work?
Yes, I think so. Yes, he was there all through the space period. I think Rod would be very good. I haven't seen him for years. So, I don't know why I made him a consultant then, however.
It was that kind of expertise, possibly.
Yes, maybe he was at Perkin-Elmer at that time.
There was another person, Dick Emberson.
Oh, Emberson, really?
Does that sound familiar to you?
Oh, I know Dick Emberson. Dick came to Harvard Observatory as a postdoc. He was trained in physics. He came to work on infrared radiometers with Theodore E. Sterne at Harvard Observatory. They published some papers together. I am sure you can find them. Dick was a very good experimenter and knew a lot about detectors. He was a hell of a nice guy. Later on, he went to the Navy, and then he left the Navy and went to work for Lloyd Berkner at AUI, or Associated Universities. Dick was right on the firing line during the early days of NRAO when they were having so much trouble with the 140-foot telescope. Dick was doing his best, you know, to pick up after Lloyd. Lloyd was a great big operator and didn't worry about details too much.
Those are the only names who were directly associated with the formation of the group in the early period, but you have already told me a lot, because we see people who are good instrumentalists, like someone in detectors. I'm just trying to reconstruct what the rationale was to produce a group that was going to do something that neither NRL of APL could do. Could you give me any guidance on that?
I think the feeling at the time was that the best scientific work wasn't being done at government laboratories. And NRL, I think, started a kind of renaissance, beginning at about that time with the space work. Prior to that, their record hadn't been terribly distinguished. And on the other hand, I think we felt that here was a new way to do astronomy, a whole new region of the spectrum was being opened up. We felt that the universities and students ought to be involved in it. That was, I think, the principal reason aside from our own personal interest. That was our justification for doing it, despite the fact that somebody was already doing it in a government lab.
Did you have the feeling that you were being left out somehow? The V2 panel had been formed. I take it you were not invited to be on that panel.
No. I don't recall.
Dr. Spitzer doesn't have any recollection that way, either. There were people like Van Allen who were very much involved, Hinteregger later on, Rense, and all these people who were at government-related institutions.
Sure, Jim, of course, was at APL at that time, and Hinteregger at Air Force Cambridge.
Did you have the feeling that there was an exclusion going on?
Well, I don't know that it was conscious, except that certainly there weren't any university people involved in the beginning. And there seemed to be no mechanism for involving them. Even much later on when NASA was formed, it wasn't easy for university groups to get in, because here we were at Harvard just starting from scratch. None of us had had any experience in this field before, and we were competing against groups like NRL, Goddard, and Air Force Cambridge for space on the early OSO's. It took quite a while to crack that consortium. Eventually we became part of the consortium.
Let me go back to the point where you had accepted the directorship of the University of Michigan's Observatory and the chairmanship of the Astronomy Department. Lyman Spitzer very quickly offered you the entire program at that point, because he saw you as the critical person. Was this a surprise to you?
No, I don't think so, because I think that Lyman probably felt that because of my interest in solar astronomy, which he didn't have particularly, and because of the probability that it would be quite a while before stellar observations would be possible, I would be the logical person to take it over. I think that's the only reason. It was because of our scientific interests.
Let me ask you about the draft report entitled: "On the Importance of High-Altitude Spectroscopy". This was an appendix that was sent along with your ONR proposal, both when Spitzer sent it in the first time, and then when you sent in the revised form in early 1947. I want to ask you, to your recollection, how important was it to emphasize military uses in this proposal to ONR?
I think it was important at that time. After all, there was no tradition of support of basic research in this country up until that time. The war had shown that scientists, and particularly university scientists, could make a very valuable contribution to military weaponry and instrumentation. The Navy, I think, in those years wanted to build up a corps of scientists who would keep in touch with the Navy, and be available in case of emergency, to help out again on applied work. I think that in order to justify the funding of research at the universities, the program people had to demonstrate some military importance.
Did Lew Slack ever say this to you?
Well, I don't remember much about Lew Slack, in those days. Later on when I worked with ONR people like Frank Isakson and others had a new attitude which was — but that was already a few years after the war — "you don't have to demonstrate the military importance of what you are doing; we'll do it." So that was a way of saying that some justification in military terms was necessary.
You had an interesting series of statements in this appendix. You referred to the atomic bomb; and that this research might help lead to an increase in knowledge of atomic processes; the prediction of radio transmission conditions; and things like that. Then you referred to atomic processes 'on' the surface of the sun as opposed to 'in' the sun. What were you referring to there?
I don't think that preposition was carefully chosen. I don't think the word, "on," has any special connotation. Of course, there isn't really a surface, but if you call it a surface, then I think you have to use "on the surface."
I'm thinking more like the following: You are using the term, "atomic bomb" in the same paragraph that you are using the term, "atomic processes." I'm wondering what was the link between the two, or if you intended there to be a link between the two.
No, I don't think so. I think, by atomic processes I meant low-energy processes. Whereas, the word, "atomic," in describing the bomb was unfortunate. It should have been nuclear bomb.
That is one of the reasons I brought up the question, because the idea of seeing nuclear processes visibly on the sun was something very curious to me. I mean, nobody really knew how energetic flares really were at that time; and I'm wondering was it in your mind, or others, speculatively that fusion processes could take place in the photosphere or in the chromosphere?
Yes, I think we did have some thoughts about that. I don't remember whether it was that early or not, or whether it was a little later, when the magnetic stars were discovered. They were thought to be strange with these rare elements having exceptionally high abundances. They were thought, perhaps, to be the product of nuclear processes. And then one began to think about flares and the high temperatures. I don't think we thought of it that way that far back, because in those days we hadn't the foggiest idea that flares would have temperatures of 30-million degrees, for example.
So that wasn't the origin of the peculiar wording?
I don't think so. Let's face it. It wasn't a bad thing in those days for scientists to want to help the military. We had just come through this terrible war. In fact we were all rather proud of it. And so later on, of course, when the National Science Foundation came into existence to support basic research in its own right, we stopped talking about military justifications.
You certainly felt comfortable doing that at the time.
But what I'm trying to get at, was not feeling comfort, but how far were you willing to look for possible applicable areas? Did you feel as if you were trying to sell something a little too hard, or did you ever have that feeling, ever have any second thought?
Oh, I think later on, not at that time, but later on, in looking back, I tended to smile at some of the things we said in those days. Yes, we were probably selling them harder than was warranted. We also had the feeling that it was a pretty small amount of money. In those days, it wasn't as though we were trying to sell a $100-million ground-based next-generation telescope on military grounds. Once during the flush space period a group of us were called to Washington, including Spitzer, Art Code and myself, and asked whether we thought that astronomy was a principal justification for building a space platform at a cost of a billion and a half dollars.
Who brought you to Washington to ask you that?
Who in NASA?
Well, they were people from Manned Space Flight. We said, no. I came back home and reported this to Fred Whipple, and he said, "ah, you've set the cause of astronomy back 10 years."
Was he serious?
Yes, sure. A billion and a half dollars, that was in the mid-60's, you know. As the principal not just a major justification for astronomy.
That's an interesting thing. You haven't mentioned Fred Whipple up to now. But of course, he was on the V-2 panel.
Had you had any contact with him during this entire period; or had Lyman Spitzer?
Why was that?
I think Fred was interested in the upper atmosphere as the outgrowth of his work on meteors, with his development of the rotating shutter of the meteor cameras, which gave upper air densities, and so forth. So that was his interest; and he was not interested in what we called astronomy at that time.
So you had very little contact with him. No one ever approached him as a member of the V-2 panel to try to get more involved in it?
No, I don't recall.
That November 20th meeting, when you were in D.C.; I mentioned that you had met with National Bureau of Standards people. You were in D.C. for your second major meeting with ONR, which included Waterman, Slack, Kilian, Urner Liddell ....
I'm not sure. That's what I was going to ask you. I have his name with only one "1", but I'm not sure of the correct spelling. But in addition, there was a Cmdr. Bollay from Inyokern.
Oh yes, I remember something about him. I didn't remember that I met him that far back. I have a feeling that when Keith Pearson and I went out to California in 1953, he took us up to White Mountain. We were interested in possibly setting up an infrared observing station.
Who is he? I'm curious, if you could help me out.
I don't know. My memory about him is very vague. I have a feeling that he had some scientific background. Inyokern was a place where a lot of scientific work was done. Devices were developed, including the Sidewinder Missile. The name is familiar, and as I say, I think of him in terms of that White Mountain experience, but I just can't, off the top of my head, remember much more about him.
This was the second meeting that you had and it led to your January 1947 ONR proposal that was approved. Tousey and Strain were there. What was the rationale for these meetings? In a number of Spitzer's own memoranda, it was sort of penned in at the bottom: "The Navy will accept $100,000 for five years," or something like that. Did you sort of map out the strategy of the proposal at these meetings?
I just don't remember; but I would suppose that we had these meetings because we were hoping that we would enter into a collaboration with the NRL people, and we couldn't carry out the program we were supposed to carry out without their collaboration.
So it was really twofold. You were asking for money and you were asking for collaboration at the same time?
Now, there is another thing I am trying to straighten out. Donald Menzel wrote you a letter, December 6, 1946. He said that he was analyzing the solar spectrum at that point. He is talking about the magnesium II doublet at 2800 angstroms. He is talking about the identifications of other lines in the regions that Tousey's spectra were taken from the October 10th flight. He doesn't say explicitly that he has Tousey's spectra. Do you have any recollection that they did send the spectra to Menzel? Is it conceivable?
I don't recall. It's conceivable.
Menzel was certainly at Harvard by then? He was back?
Oh yes, he was back. He came back right at the end of the war.
Then the way I will cover that is to get to his letters at Harvard, to see what his correspondence with Tousey was like.
I'll also go back through my Menzel file and see what I can learn.
He mentioned one other thing that was mentioned a few times during this period; that at the December 30th meetings — I don't know if it was the AAS, but it night be, because everybody seemed to be going to these meetings.
In those days? December 30, 1946?
Yes. There was a symposium on the earth's outer atmosphere. And the letter was simply a discussion that some of you people would get together and talk about your mutual interests after the symposium. I'm wondering, if you went to the symposium, and if you remember anything about it?
Where was this meeting, do you know?
I think it was either Boston or New Haven.
I know it was Boston. We must have gotten together (laughs), but for the life of me .... yes, I know it was Boston. The AAAS met in Boston.
AAAS or AAS?
Well, it was the AAAS. The AAS always had a Section-D; in those days the AAS always had a meeting in conjunction with the AAAS. That didn't stop until about the mid-1960's. The reason why I'm so sure of it is that during that meeting we had a convocation. It was during a session of the AAS, which was held at Harvard. I presented a portrait of Harlow Shapley to James B. Conant. And I have a photograph (of all places, a newspaper photograph) that was taken from the NEW BEDFORD STANDARD TIMES. New Bedford, Massachusetts, was the place where I went to high school (laughs). They picked it up. So here was a picture of the portrait, me, Conant and Charles Hopkinson, the artist. So I know that was done during that meeting. I had engineered the painting of that portrait, on the 25th anniversary of Shapley's directorship.
Do you remember Tousey being there by any chance, giving his paper?
I remember Tousey giving his paper, and also a paper by the Australians, which Taffy Bowen gave, if I'm not mistaken, delineating the increase of brightness temperature of the sun with wavelength. This was a confirmation of the high temperature of the corona, a confirmation of the temperature rise.
This is in the radio range?
That's right. As you decrease the frequency, you look to higher and higher layers in the atmosphere, so by making measurements at variable frequency, they define that curve. And that was presented at the same meeting.
Which of the two were you more excited about?
I really can't say. I had already been terribly excited by Tousey's, probably more excited by Tousey's spectrum, because you actually were looking at lines, you know, that nobody had ever seen before from a celestial body. And I was a spectroscopist, after all.
Can you recall the general atmosphere of the audience when Tousey gave his paper?
Lyman Spitzer later discussed with you the possibility of making V-2 spectrographs at Yale for the Army Air Force. People at the Army Air Force had expressed an interest. This was before he went to Princeton. Do you have any recollections of that?
After that December meeting?
No, I don't remember.
Could you give me a summation — because we have already talked pretty well through the V-2 era — of the value of the V-2 era in what we call space astronomy, not only say the V-2 work on spectra, but cosmic ray physics and that sort of thing, too.
Well, I think it was very important because it was the beginning of high-altitude research. Without the V-2s, it would have been done eventually as we built our own rockets, but this was a way of getting started quickly and involving scientists who otherwise would have turned to other things. So I think it was probably important in giving this country a head start on what I call the space age, which I really date from that time, rather than from October 1957.
Do you know anything of what the Russians did with their captured V-2s, or how I might go about finding out, because they got many more than we did.
Yes. I don't know. I'm not aware that they ever came to any astronomical meetings. No one came and gave results about solar radiation. Usually, if they had done anything, they would have long since, you know, come out and said that they did it first, but I think they probably didn't. They probably did do military experiments with them in upper atmosphere work.
Between the V-2 era and October 1957 and the OSO era, what was your interest and involvement in space work?
Very little; in fact, not at all, that I can recall. I used to read. I was very interested in what Tousey and Hinteregger and other people were doing, because I was interested in the sun, and in the structure of the chromosphere. But I was pretty busy with other things, in the infrared and later the vacuum spectrograph, with which we could first plainly see the wiggly nature of absorption lines.
Wiggly lines, you know, in the solar spectrum.
This is from turbulence?
Well, from Doppler motions, cells rising and falling. And back in 1950 Schwarzschild and Richardson published a paper from careful measurement of Mt. Wilson's spectra in which it would have a line, which would be about two inches long, and you would measure its wavelength, point by point, along the length of the line, and you would find that it had a wiggle in it. They derived the RMSvelocity, which turned out to be about right. However, when we built a vacuum spectrograph, the resolution was so good that the first spectrum that was made from this instrument showed the wiggle to the naked eye. We were all gathered around in the darkroom, it came out of the hypo, we held it up to the light, and my god, the lines were just jagged.
So there were a lot of things to keep me busy. I was developing astronomy at Michigan. We built a Schmidt telescope. We built an 85-foot radio observatory, and built up the staff. So it wasn't until the actual launch of the Sputnik that I realized the time had come to get personally involved, you know, in a big way.
Now, you had gone back to Harvard after Sputnik?
No, not until 1960. I started the OSO program at Michigan, but it didn't get too far, and I had to decide whether I was going to spend the next 10 years at Harvard or at Michigan; and that if I didn't make that decision right then and there, it would be too late.
Was it easier, or for some reason a better place to do the OSO work at Harvard than at Michigan?
Yes, I think so. I think the technical resources that were available in the Boston area were just far greater than what was available in Ann Arbor. In fact, I had a hell of a time getting good people, although I did get a first-class electronics engineer who actually designed the basic electronic system for our first OSO experiment. He did that way back in Michigan.
Who was he?
Bill Follett was his name. He decided not to move to Harvard, and instead he went out to Ball Brothers. I think he is still there. He's done excellent work at Ball Brothers. In fact, he helped us enormously when Ball was building some of our later experiments, OSO VI and ATM. But we didn't do so well with the mechanical engineering. The fellow we got was a dud, but as I say, at Harvard there were plenty of good people.
The first rush of excitement after Sputnik and the establishment of NASA, I know that the OSO concept evolved eventually out of something that was very, very different, some sort of a combined solar and stellar observatory. Were you in on those deliberations?
Oh, my yes. In fact, I have recently written about that.
I'd like to know about that.
Well, there was a series of Lowell lectures last spring in Boston at the Museum of Science, which the Center for Astrophysics put on. Jim Cornell was in charge of it. It was called ASTRONOMY FROM SPACE.  It was a series of lectures, each dealing with a different part of astronomy from space; the earth, the moon, the planets, x-ray astronomy, the sun and so forth. Jim asked me to write an introductory chapter which would sort of set the stage for what's going on today: what astronomy was like as the space era dawned, so to speak.
You called it the modern space era then.
Yes, what was astronomy like just before the Sputnik, and what were our expectations at that time, and how well were they realized, that sort of thing. So I have a lot. In connection with that article I pulled a lot of stuff out of the files on that period. And I've got a lot of it. Briefly — it may turn out to be not so brief — I got started not with NASA, but with McDonnell Aircraft. My first direct involvement came in the winter at the beginning of 1958 before NAA was formed, when McDonnell Aircraft had ambitions to get into space science, particularly astronomy, to build satellites, build the instruments, launch them, set up a tracking station.
I remember you also mentioned this to Spencer; but why would McDonnell want to do that? Is it commercial potential?
Well, they had a $50-million proposal.
That's pretty commercial.
Fifty million bucks, and I probably described all that to Spencer, but one of their people came to see me, and asked me if I would do two things; one: would I be their consultant; and two: would I prepare a report on astronomical experiments that could be done from satellites. And then there was a three down the line: would I consider an arrangement whereby McDonnell would build and launch, say, an orbiting solar observatory, and would the University of Michigan be an associate contractor, with responsibility for taking over and operating the equipment, once it was in or I bit, and then making observations and so forth. So I said, "yes," to the first two questions. In fact, we put out a report by September of 1958, I think something like that. It was published, not in a journal or anything, but it was in report form, and we distributed it widely. It was an important input, I think, to NASA in the early, the very beginning.
This was under your name as author?
My name, and I enlisted the collaboration of Laurence Aller, Fred Haddock and Bill Liller. Each of them wrote about different aspects of astronomy. So I was involved in that.
What was the title of that?
"Astronomy from Space Vehicles," I think. I've got one copy of it in my office.
If there is a reference or if it is something we could reproduce, unless I can find it with that reference, that would be very helpful.
A lot of things happened just before NASA was established. The Space Science Board was formed, I was asked to be a member of that, and I accepted. Then NASA came into being and it was pretty clear to me that I would either have to resign from the Space Science Board, or break off with McDonnell, because the Space Science Board was being asked to evaluate the early proposals before NASA's evaluation mechanism was established. It seemed very unlikely to me as I say in this article, that NASA was going to entrust astronomy in space to the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation.
Did you know anyone in NASA who you could talk to about that?
No, I didn't feel that I should.
That was way before the Astronomy Missions Board was started?
Oh my yes, that didn't start for nearly 10 years later, but the Space Science Board was getting pretty active already. And Mr. McDonnell himself, the old man, wanted me to join him; and with one or two others, walk in on Keith Glennen and hand him this $50-million proposal. So at that point I sent him a letter and explained why I felt it necessary to resign. So I was involved in it at that time. Then in February of 1959, NASA was really getting started. Homer Newell, who came to see me in Ann Arbor with Jim Kupperian and Jim Milligan, my former student, told me about the plans for OAO. They wanted to design a platform on which astronomical instruments could be put.
This is OAO you are talking about?
OAO. They were contemplating about four of them and the fourth one would be solar. In fact, at one time, there was some serious discussion about mounting solar and stellar instruments in the same satellite, but Martin Schwarzschild fought like hell against that. It got to the President's Science Advisory Committee, and I think, finally the White House itself put a stop to that. It was such nonsense.
Who wanted that?
NASA. You know, the engineers were in the saddle, and there was Hugh Dryden who was calling the shots. They didn't have a single scientist in a really top position in NASA. Anyway, there was going to be a fourth OAO, and they asked me if I would be willing to take the responsibility for instrumenting the fourth OAO, 700 pounds of instruments. This was only February, 1959, mind you. I gulped and I said, "well, sure, why not." (laughs). So I became part of that working group. And then in the meantime, a very smart guy at Goddard, John Lindsay, was talking to Ball Erothers, and John could see that the solar OAO was way out of line at that time. And he got Ball Brothers to submit a proposal for the OSO, which was an extension of their two-axis rocket pointing control. John was instrumental in selling that proposal to NASA. And selling it to NASA meant selling it to Abe Silverstein at that time. So, a second working group was set up for OSO. And for awhile these two were running in parallel. And then somewhere along the line — again, my memory is a little dim — the idea of the solar OAO was killed, and we all concentrated on OSO.
So that solar OAO didn't become AOSO?
Well, the specifications that we were talking about resembled those for AOSO. In fact, I think I talked about this in that article, what sort of specifications we were aiming for. And in a way, except that AOSO was not the fourth OAO, because AOSO was marginal; it was going to be launched by a Thor Agena, rather than by the Atlas. So it was a much smaller payload, and for the specifications that were required it was marginal; and eventually it was cancelled.
Were you involved with it at all?
Oh yes, we were one of the experimenters on the AOSO.
Why was it cancelled?
On the face of it, the reason given was the budget. It came along just about the time that the NASA budget stopped accelerating. But it was actually also a very marginal project.
I mean, the pointing accuracy, the performance probably couldn't be achieved by that spacecraft. It just wasn't big enough.
But it was huge. We have the prototype. It's about nine feet high, four feet wide — are we talking about the same thing?
AOSO, not ATM.
Yes, AOSO. We have the prototype at the museum, not on display. It's up in our restoration facility. I haven't figured out if there are any instruments in it or not; but it is quite large, certainly bigger than any of the OSO's.
Oh yes, sure. But we were after one second of arc pointing accuracy. It was supposed to be comparable to OAO.
I see. It wasn't as big as OAO, though?
So the size was an important factor here?
That's right. And for some reason or other — don't ask me why — it was to be launched by a Thor-Agena, and that was the limiting factor.
Are you saying that this was something of an ill-conceived project?
Yes, I think so. It wasn't well conceived. And also, there was pressure coming in from the manned side. They wanted to operate in the Apollo extension program. George Mueller and his boys wanted to do scientific work, and solar work looked good. At first, there was a very crude concept, but it sure got to be sophisticated, and eventually led into the ATM, which was more than a match for AOSO.
Oh yes, enormous. We are happy to be able to display what's left of the back-up of ATM. We will have it on display later this year.
Yes, yes. I've seen it.
I would like to go back and ask you some questions about the early V-2 period. Lyman Spitzer saw a tension between two types of interests in doing upper atmosphere research. One, the rocket work is primarily concerned with upper atmosphere work itself, knowing our own atmosphere; and the other, studying solar or celestial phenomena. Did you sense any of this tension at all?
No, not really. I had no inkling that Tousey's work, for example, was in conflict at all, or in competition at all with anything. By tension, does he mean competition for space in the warhead?
No. What was driving the scientists who were building the spectrographs, such as Hopfield and Clearman at APL, Tousey at NRL. Was it an interest in knowing the ozone layer better? Or was it the solar spectrum? What were they interested in? Or was it just a sense of being the first to see something?
Oh yes. I think that clearly in Tousey's case, in the beginning, he was driven by his interest in the ozone layer, and wanting to map that. And of course, there was no better way of doing it than using the solar spectrum. I think that was his original motivation. And then, as time went on, he saw that he had a good thing scientifically, and so he kept on.
He certainly did. What about this idea of being the first to see something?
Oh, that must have been in their minds, because they always made such a fuss about it. Herb Friedman and Dick Tousey both were always talking about the firsts. In fact, I think if you look at Dick's — if I remember correctly — RUSSELL LECTURE, that word, "first," is used quite a number of times.
Okay, I'll have a look at that. I also asked you the question of your perception of the rocket research as being a closed field, something that was hard for non-military scientists to get into.
Yes, I think it was. But then, also, so was the NASA program, too. And I know that Homer Newell looked upon a number of us as sort of "Johnny-come-latelys." (laugh).
Was Newell ever aware of your interest in the early period. Do you think?
How do you think that astronomers as a group viewed the initial V-2 rocket work in the 1940's?
Well, I don't think they felt that it was really in the mainstream of astronomy, To the extent that very many of them, or any of them, wanted to get in on it, and become experimenters, I think they felt it was within the province of experimental physics. And to a considerable extent, that was their attitude after Sputnik, too.
Even after Sputnik?
Oh yes, there weren't very many astronomers. Art Code got in to it on my urging. Quite a number of them were willing to talk about what was important to observe, but very few of them wanted to stop doing what they were doing and turn to space research. It took a younger generation to do that, so that now space is an integral part of astronomy.
Would this be a good time, then, to talk about the origins of the Whitford Committee, your role in it, and especially your perception that at first it should have included some space work?
Yes. Again, I had forgotten that detail, except that when I read some of the things that I wrote, I think it was clear that I meant all of astronomy. Let me tell you the rather bizarre story of how the idea occurred to me that this ought to be done. You perhaps haven't seen the March issue of SKY AND TELESCOPE. There are some preliminary copies made available for the AURA 25th anniversary celebration, because it has an article I wrote on the founding of Kitt Peak. At the end I tell the story of a dinner in Washington, attended by scientists and chairmen of important Congressional committees in 1962. And a speech that Warren Magnusson, a former senator from the state of Washington, made. Of course, every Congressman present made a speech. They all had to have their turn. And what I didn't say in the article was that it was a dinner hosted by Detlev Bronk, and attended by the Committee on Government Relations, members of Congress, and other dignitaries like Jerry Wiesner, Alan Waterman, heads of scientific agencies and so forth. Well, anyway, you can read this story in Sky and Telescope about how Magnusson describes the process by which the NSF budget is arrived at. Albert Thomas, his counter-part in the House, was sitting there near him. Magnusson was chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on appropriations for the NSF, and Thomas the same on the House. He noted how every year the House would vote a zero increase, but the Senate would vote the full amount requested. And then, as Magnusson put it, once a year he would get together with Albert and they'd go down the list, and then they would cut it right down the middle and give half the increase. And that's a fact; I mean, I remember that. On one such occasion, Albert was going over the list and he said, "what's this Mt. Kitt Observatory?" Yes, we don't need that." He drew a line through it. Magnusson went on — Magnusson was describing this — and Thomas was sitting there. Magnusson went on and said: "I said to him, Albert, you can't do that. That's Carl's observatory." Carl Hayden was Senator Hayden of Arizona, the old man. He was sitting there at the dinner, also. Whereupon Albert Thomas said, "oh, that's different. Why didn't you say so? We'll put it back in." That's how I conclude my article, and I say, that may be the real story of how Kitt Peak was established.
Amazing. That's in the SKY AND TELESCOPE Kitt Peak article?
You said you were going to include a piece now that wasn't in the article.
Oh yes. At the same dinner, during the cocktail period, I was standing there talking to Alan Waterman, and Albert Thomas walked up, twirling his cocktail glass. He was a very bland, smooth character but he could strike like a cobra. He was a real tough character from Houston. He walked up to Waterman and he said: "Good evening, Alan, well," he said, "you've got a real bear by the tail down there in West Virginia now, don't you." Alan just stood there sort of flushed and didn't say anything. And it suddenly occurred to me, he was talking about the Sugar Grove fiasco, the 600-foot Navy dish, which was eventually killed after the expenditure of 100 million. Secretary McNamara killed it on recommendation of a committee chaired by Ed Purcell, but up until that point it had been a classified project. Some of us were members of a public advisory committee to advise them on the kind of astronomy you could do with it. But we were not shown anything about the design. The radio telescope was being built by the Bureau of Ships and it was classified.
Well, because it was going to be used to spy on radio transmissions from the Soviet Union reflected off the moon. So, at the same time of course, the 140-foot dish at NRAO was having some problems, but at that point, January 1962, those problems had been solved and it was going to cost a lot more than expected, but it was going to get finished, There was certainly not enough to cause Albert Thomas to confront Waterman with this "big bear" that he had by the tail. He really had the two mixed up.
Thomas did, or Waterman did?
Thomas did. He didn't know the difference. And I thought to myself: "My god, these important Congressmen know so little about astronomy." Astronomy is getting bad credit for this big fiasco at Sugar Grove. We need some kind of a review or survey, or a study made of the needs of astronomy for facilities." Here, I found this letter of March 19th addressed to George Kistiakowsky, in which I say: "At the next meeting of the Committee on Government Relations it might be useful to have a brief discussion of the desirability of conducting a study of the long-range needs of astronomy with respect to observational facilities, both on the ground and in space." And then, you know, it's rather brief, but it was scheduled. And in preparation for that I prepared this document. This is basically what I said.
This is the "Committee on Government Relations: Astronomical Facilities, June 2, 1962."
It was later called COSPUP, Committee on Science and Public Policy. And that committee had just gotten started in January of that year.
Yes. That's a very interesting report. This has not been published.
No. And you see I have some notes that I add to it, a table of new major Government-supported facilities since 1945; these things, space observatories.
These are proposed space operations?
No, this is 1962, and it represents money already committed or spent, you see.
Yes, exactly. Okay. But you go all the way back to NRAO, Sacramento Peak, Climax.
No, since 1945.
Since 1945, yes. That's really quite nice.
What I say here is that I believe that the Academy could perform a valuable service in sponsoring a study of the probable leads in this area during the next 10 years, with the idea that the resulting report could be used by Congress and the Administration as a guide for the appropriation of funds. And here I mention some names.
I notice that you would nominate W.W. Morgan as director.
Yes, that's right.
Wasn't he director of the Yerkes Observatory at that time ?
At that time.
Okay, but as chairman of the panel. Then you have Mayall, Sandage, Whitford, Schwarzschild, Menzel, Purcell ....
Townes, Bruno Rossi, and other possible members. Actually, the committee was not that high level when it got through; but radio astronomers; Braceiveil and Swenson; and engineers, Bruce Rule.
Bruce Rule. How did the decision process work that eventually created the Witford Committee.
Well, I made this proposal. I followed this text, and although I don't remember the details of that meeting, the committee evidently thought it was a good idea. And there is a gap in my file on that committee, which probably must be here at the Academy. But from about the date of this communication until July, or something like that, there is a gap. I don't know what happened. I don't have the minutes of the meeting at which I presented this; but I'm sure that what happened was that I presented it and everybody thought it was a good idea. They went ahead with it and the Academy put in a proposal, probably to NSF and NASA, or NSF, to fund it. And for the life of me, I can't remember the discussions that resulted in the chairman being Whitford rather than Morgan, although probably Morgan didn't want to do it. Morgan always shied away from that kind of responsibility.
Yes. But the decision not to include the space research?
That I think was the committee's. It was Whitford's, primarily, I would guess, because — I started to say it was the committee, but if space were included, it would have been a somewhat different committee. I think Whitford felt that the problems of ground-based astronomy were severe, and that they were not receiving adequate attention; and that this was a chance to focus on ground-based astronomy and build it up; and that if the needs of ground-based astronomy were going to be traded off against the needs for space, he thought ground-based astronomy might not have come out so well.
How did you feel about that, or others who were more involved with space work?
Well, I thought that space should have been included, if only for the education of members of Congress. I kept coming back to that theme and I remember pushing that as a prerequisite for the Greenstein study because people at OMB, or the Bureau of the Budget, or whatever it was called at that time, were already puzzled by astronomers' proposals for a Very Large Array, for example, and a space telescope, and other things. They would say, "well, if you are going to have a space telescope, why do you reed a Very Large Array on the ground?" So I thought it was important to explain why these different sub-disciplines of astronomy were necessary and important.
Yes. What are the other items in the file?
This I think is a duplicate of that, only it doesn't have the table.
No, it's two pages.
It doesn't have the table. It has the first part of it, the text. This is a letter in which I write Bob Green, now the late Bob Green unfortunately, who was the executive secretary of this committee; and for many years thereafter, for COSPUP, suggesting the directive to the Committee on astronomical facilities. And this is it. This also includes: "To what extent has Federal support for astronomical facilities already created serious imbalances; for example, between solar and galactic astronomy, between optical astronomy and radio astronomy, and between ground-based astronomy and space research. Is the present division of support between pure research observatories and those connected with the universities satisfactory?" That's a question that the astronomers have consistently refused to address. They didn't address it then, and they aren't addressing it now. I mean, as between NRAO and Kitt Peak on the one hand, and universities on the other. Anyway, you can make copies of that and send it back.
Certainly. Can I keep the file, to make sure I keep it together?
Yes, keep the file.
As I say, I think that a reading sometime of that stack of letters in reply to the request for inputs would be very interesting for the historical point of view.
Another fellow at the museum is studying the resurgence of planetary astronomy by NASA; and presumably, within that large sheaf of responses by astronomers, there would be some indication of what the interest was in planetary work.
Yes, oh yes.
Do you have any overall recollections of how the NASA program revitalized planetary astronomy? Did you have a role in that?
No, I don't think so. I think it was really the Lunar and Planetary Missions Board that was instrumental in revitalizing planetary astronomy. I wasn't a member of that, but both that Missions Board and our Missions Board of course came out of the so-called Ramsey Committee of 1966, which Jim Webb set up to advise him on how to bring about, or how to get the scientific community involved in the space program, and implementing the recommendations of the Woods Hole Sumner Study of 1965. But up until that Missions Board, planetary astronomy was sort of floundering.
Up until the Board?
Yes, until the Board came along.
You made a provocative statement before about the fact that engineers were really in the driver's seat in NASA. Did this in part create that lack of association by the academic community? I mean, what impression did you have before that time of the scientific commitment of the agency?
Before what time?
Before the Ramsey Committee.
Oh, well, there were a lot of reasons why the scientific community was somewhat dragging its feet. One was the shortage of people, the difficulty of getting scientists to give up what they are doing and to tackle something new. It's human nature, I suppose, and that's why new fields are often for the young. These young people come along, and they haven't gotten themselves committed. They are going to go into something that appears to be the most exciting thing in the future. And so they pick up these new fields, but there weren't very many. In the early days, it was easy to get on an OSO. We had a certain number of experimenters. There were two halves to the pointed section of each OSO, and there were about four experimenters. And we all sort of took turns. We had an experiment on every other satellite. We were scheduled on OSO H, IV, and VI. So that's one reason.
Another reason was the difficulty of dealing with the NASA bureaucracy. It was a struggle. If you look at the way ATM evolved, I mean, it was terrible. At one point, when Webb had a meeting of his brass — I think it was about the time of the Ramsey Committee, maybe a little later — NASA had decided they wanted to make Goddard the lead center for astronomy, but they were having trouble recruiting astronomers to go to work at Goddard. The brass wanted to know why, so they all got together, the top brass, and invited Martin Schwarzschild, Horace Babcock, and I, and maybe one other astronomer. I don't remember,
Was O'Dell involved in that, early? It was a little later, maybe.
That was later. He got involved when I got him on the Astronomy Missions Boards They were all there: George Mueller and Homer Newell. Martin Schwarzschild led off in his thick German accent. He says: "The trouble is, that there is an Iron Curtain between you, George, and you, Homer". And he went on in that vein for awhile. And then it came around to me, and I said, well, I can reinforce that, and I can use ATM as an illustration. I said, to my way of thinking, ATM is a perfect example of how not to do astronomy in space.
This was as early as the late 1960's?
Yes, 1966–67; ATM was underway. Then I went on to say, "everybody knows that science on ATM is just piggyback or ATM is just piggyback on the mission, on Skylab."
And it's a manned mission.
And Jim Webb said: "now, that's not true, Goldberg." He said, "that's just not true. I don't know where you got your information, but if you want to know what's going on," he says,. "you've got to ask Homer here, or George." And I could hardly keep from laughing. I said nothing but in the review in SKY AND TELESCOPE, I wrote of Homer's book — I referred to that. I said that what I didn't want to say at the time was that Homer had told me that ATM was piggyback, or that solar science was piggyback on Skylab.
Did this necessarily make for anything less than what people call, "'best science?" What was the problem with it being piggyback?
Well, I'll tell you what it was. The original mission was going to be 27 days long; and it was going to be flown, not from this huge platform, making use of a workshop, but it was going to be flown from the command and service modules, which you couldn't possibly stabilize to any decent accuracy. It was only going to be a 27-day mission, It was only through constant fighting, protests, and harassment by scientists of N&SA personnel that gradually brought about this change.
What you are saying is that you didn't object to what finally went up, but to the original concepts?
Oh, what finally went up was fine. When I said it was a perfect example of how not to do astronomy, I wasn't referring to what actually happened. I was referring to what was being planned at that time. The red tape that you had to go through before you could get anything done was enormous. The mission finally evolved into something wonderful. In the end it was great, but it really took a lot of fortitude on the part of the scientists to get it into that condition.
What people can we look to, both in NASA and outside of N&SA, for the final result, the full Skylab mission?
Well, I think Homer Newell and John Naugle had a lot to do with it. I can tell you another story along those lines. I was fairly close to George Mueller during that period, because I was a member of his scientific and technical advisory committee for manned space flight, with Charlie Townes as chairman. At one time — I have to get my years straight on this, it was around 1968 — George had a meeting of his top executives — whatever you call it where you're going off to some quiet place to just barnstorm — to get away from the phone and just think and talk. He had it up in Boston, and I was invited to join them for dinner, which was at Durgin Park. It was great fun; and then George came over to see me. He was putting on quite an act. He was wearing a medical device, I think it monitored his heart or something, wearing one of these portable things around his neck, a box with a recorder, and it gave me the impression that this job was really getting him down. He then went on to tell me that it was very important to launch Skylab by the end of 1969. The only trouble is that the Harvard and NRL experiments couldn't possibly be ready in time for that early a launch. He asked if I couldn't help him. Could I fly a simpler experiment? I thought about it, and I said, "well, who's stopping you?" He said, "Homer Newell has to give his okay, and he says he won't clear it. He won't approve it unless the mission includes NRL and Harvard." Those were the two most sophisticated experiments; although in retrospect, you know, the AS&E x-ray experiment was pretty hot stuff.
So we talked about it some more; and I said, "Well, you know, it is possible. The end of 1969 will be solar maximum; and we could, I suppose, put together a flare spectrograph, or flare spectrometer in a relatively short time." It would be very appropriate for a maximum, but I said: "I would only be willing to do it, provided you give me your word that we will be able to go on developing our more sophisticated instrument, and we'll have a chance to fly it when it's ready." And, yes, he agreed to that. I should have made him put it in writing. He said, "would you go over to London, where Homer Newell was attending the COSPAR meeting, and tell him that you are willing to change your experiment?" I said, "sure." So the next day I flew to London. I met Homer, and talked it over with him, and flew back. We made a subcontract with American Science and Engineering to build the flare spectrometer. Then the fun began. They kept delaying the launch, delaying it, delaying it, and before you knew it, it was 1971, 72, 73.
Was this the full concept, though, the whole thing with the MDA and the orbiting workship?
Oh yes, that's right, but we were building this flare spectrometer. So it got to the point, I don't remember what year it was, when they had already delayed it up to 1973. And this was after he told me that it was absolutely essential to launch it by the end of 1969; so I began to approach them (NASA-Mueller) with the notion that it was not totally inappropriate to fly a flare spectrometer, because we were going to be at solar minimum. I said, "we'll be the laughing stock of the astronomical community. We want to go back to our original experiment." And the answer was: "sorry, we haven't got the money now." Now, that's what I mean by the engineering and accountant mentality. The absence of somebody with a scientific voice at the very top. Do you know what I did? I wrote them a letter and formally withdrew from the ATM project.
That's why I don't know of that experiment, or any one like it on ATM.
That's right. We cancelled the contract with AS&E. And they were very unhappy. Giacconi wanted to know, "could we do something to improve it, and do that to improve it?" And I said, "no, nothing; you can't improve it that much."
That letter is up at the Center for Astrophysics in the ATM Project files. They've got it. I just withdrew; and they came right back and said, "now, let's talk this over." And so we flew the original sophisticated experiment and it was a great success.
When did you build it?
Well, we had started it. It was started at Ball Brothers. They built it. And we had enough warning; and also, the development of that experiment had continued at a low level all the time that the other instrument was under construction, and there was enough notice. We had enough warning so that we could go ahead full speed, finish it, build it, and fly it. I am glad to say it was a great success. But, that's the kind of grief that you used to experience with NASA.
Did you have any similar experiences in Space Telescope? Did you have a part to play in the history of that device?
No. No, only that the Missions Board gave it very high priority, and considered it, but I was never involved in it.
In 1970, you were on both the Astronomy Missions Board and the Space Science Board at NAS. Did you see that as sort of a conflict of interests? Were you on the two at the same time?
No, I got off the Space Science Board way back. I got off the Space Science Board about the time I joined George Kistiakowsky's committee in 1962.
Okay. How were the relations between NASA's Astronomy Missions Board and the NASA Board over the years?
Well, we talked to them. There may have been some overlapping membership, but they were supposed to be sort of an independent body, even though NASA relied on them for advice. We were employed by NASA, whereas they were at least nominally employed by the Academy, even though N&SA gave the money to the Academy. Well, I shouldn't say employed, because we weren't employed in that sense, but we reported to NASA directly, and they reported to the Academy.
But from time to time, looking at the different budgets that the two different Boards would propose, they would sometimes be quite a bit different in their level of funding for space projects, for Space Telescope, and one usually tried to follow the other.
Well, the reason for that was partly because John Naugle always told me that astronomy was going to get a big boost, just as planetary sciences had. You know, in the beginning, planetary sciences and astronomy were about level, The Missions Board for planetary work got started a year before we did. They were ready with their program earlier, and their budget went up to twice that of astronomy. For example, I was originally asked to be the chairman of what became the Greenstein Committee; and I went around to see John Naugle and wanted to be let out as chairman of the Missions Board. He pleaded with me not to do it, because he thought that this was just the year when astronomy was going to get its big boost, and I would have to go and testify before Congressional Committees and so forth, because our report had just come out.
Did that happen?
No, it didn't, because, as I said, the funding just dried up and went downhill. So, sure, a lot of people thought that our zero level, lowest level budget was unrealistic, but we had a big boost built into it, because we had been led to expect it would happen.
Yes, that's very interesting. I can see how it was very complex and difficult dealing with NASA. I know that Kitt Peak organized a space division in the early years, and the division was phased out in the early 1960's. Did you have any contact with that space division? I know Joe Chamberlain was involved in it.
originally it was Aden Meinel's doing. Meinel was the first director, and as you know, Kitt Peak was founded almost at the same time as Sputnik, or a few months later. I think there was a feeling there that from now on, no big observatory could be without any contact with space. I mean, a national observatory had to have a space component. And Meinel was, certainly in those days, one of the most creative and innovative people in astronomical instrumentation. Meinel had a concept for a 50-inch orbiting, telescope.
A 50-inch at that time.
Yes, it was going to be the next step beyond the OAO.
Does that have anything to do with the 50-inch auto-mated telescope at Kitt Peak?
Yes, the 50-inch was supposed to be a way of practicing with remote communication. I could never see the point of that, frankly, because it was on the ground, after all. You might as well control it from a little room next door to the telescope, rather than all the way from Tucson. But anyway that was part of the space division. So they formed a Space Division, and then when Meinel was forced out as director — that's the only way I can describe it — he continued for awhile as head of the Space Division.
This is something you did talk about with Spencer.
I guess so, yes. Then Meinel quit to become director of Steward Observatory, and they appointed a committee to look for a successor. There were all kinds of hairy ideas proposed, and they finally appointed Joe Chamberlain, which I don't think was a good idea, because Joe's interests were primarily in geophysics, and they still are. So, in Joe's hands, Kitt Peak got a first-rate scientific program, really first-rate, and a lot of first-rate engineers to back it up, but it wasn't astronomy. That was the beginning of Kitt Peak's involvement in planetary missions, upper atmosphere rocket shots, and so forth. Technically, it was an excellent program. So, they had an orbiting astronomical explorer concept that they designed. I was on the Board at that time and I tried to talk them out of it. I didn't think it would have a chance of NASA's accepting.
Was it an optical system?
Yes, an optical optical telescope.
How big was it?
Well, it was rather small. It was an Explorer size satellite. Then as time went on and the budget crunch started, the Space Division was a tempting target, and so they decided to change the name to the Division of Planetary Sciences, in the 1960's. It wasn't abolished in the 1960's. I abolished it after I became director, gradually; I had to cancel the rocket program because the budget was really being slashed, and that program was meeting the needs of maybe three experimenters a year at a cost of one-half million dollars or more.
People were simply not going to Kitt Peak, they were going to NASA instead?
Oh, they were going, but it was so expensive. They were going. If we had had more money, we could have had more than three; but three experimenters exhausted the budget. Then finally Kitt Peak was involved in the Voyager program.
Kitt Peak was involved in Voyager?
Oh yes. Lyle Broadfoot's instrument for the Voyager was really developed at Kitt Peak. But more and more, NASA wasn't paying its full share of the cost of that program, and it was too much of a drain on our space and budget, and everything else, so we made other arrangements.
Well, that certainly gives me a good review. Where would documentation be, in the AURA files, during that period?
I'm going to take you back once more. Yes, that's it.
These will be pretty easy to answer. I have some evidence that in the late 1950's, and possibly even earlier than that, Shapley was not very supportive of the idea of working in space, space astronomy. Do you have that kind of a recollection?
No, but in the late 1950's he was already retired, and I don't think he had any particular influence any more.
Not a question of influence, I'm just interested in his own opinion.
No, I don't really know.
Do you have any particular insight into the kinds of people that would adhere to photoelectric, or photographic detectors, say, since the V-2 era, even through to Skylab, because there was plenty of photographic stuff on Skylab, too.
Well, I think, until rather recently, you couldn't approach the resolution of a photographic plate with electronic detectors. So, for problems involving high resolution, I think photography was the way to go. But you couldn't do photography with the OSO's. I think that by the time ATM came along, the resolution that you could get by raster scanning with small detectors was beginning to be pretty respectable, and it had so much of an advantage over the photographic plate. For example, in the ability to completely isolate a single emission line, and make a raster scan in just that line alone, whereas, photographically, you would have to rely on objective grating photographs, which meant that if you were dealing with a very strong line, like Lyman alpha or 304 He+, which overshadowed all the lines around it, you could make pictures in such strong lines, but not in the weaker lines. And now, of course, you can get such high resolution with electronic detectors that I don't think photography can compete any more.
Can you carry that feeling back to the V-2 era? Was there any question that photography was the only way to go, or did you consider...
At that time, yes. Hinteregger pioneered the use of electronic detectors, and telemetry. That was very important, because he was really pioneering satellite experiments. He may not have realized it, but that type of detector was.
I hope very much to be able to talk with him. I haven't been able to get in contact with him up there. He still has a phone number at AFGL, but I haven't been able to get through.
I see. But his spectra were rather low resolution as compared with some of Tousey's, but now you can get very high resolution with these detectors.
Absolutely. Did you ever have contact with J.J. Hopfield, who did the APL work?
No. I knew Clearman somewhat,
Is he still around?
I don't know. What's happened to Clearman? (no knowledge).
You mentioned that Donald Menzel was critical of the bead design for Tousey's spectrograph. Would you say this is all in the letters that you have of Menzel's?
Is there anything that you could add right now about it?
No. I would have forgotten about it, if I hadn't read it in my files recently.
Okay. I certainly want to thank you very, very much. I know this went a long, long time, but it is very valuable to me.
 Leo Goldberg OH I by Spencer Weart 16, 17 May 1978 AIP, NYC.
Menzel, D.H., "A Study of the Solar Chromosphere," Publications of the Lick Observatory 17 (Berkeley, 1931).
ApJ 82 (1935): 1–25.).
D. Menzel, "The History of Astronomical Spectroscopy I and IL" in R. Berendzen ed. 'Education in and History of Modern Astronomy, 'Annals of the NY Academy of Sciences 198 (1972) p. 225–44.
Spitzer file, SAOHP files, SS&E, NkSM.
All Letters are in the SAOHP — SSE Working Files (Spitzer files).
"Preliminary Design of an Experimental World. Douglas Aircraft Company. Circling: Spaceship," (Santa Monica, May 1946)
 (Orbiting Solar Observatories.)
 (L. Goldberg, W.H. Parkinson and E.M. Reeves, "Carbon Monoxide in the UV Solar Spectrum, ApJ 141 (1965), 1293.)
 (SAOHP-SSE Working Files, NASM. Spitzer File.)
 ("On the Importance of High-Altitude Spectroscopy" SAOHP-SSE Working Files, NASM.)
 (root mean square)
 (Lowell Lectures, Astronomy from Space (MIT Press, forthcoming (Sp 83))
 (L.H. Aller, L. Goldberg, F.T. Haddock, W. Liller, "Astronomical Experiments Proposed for Earth Satellites," Final Report U. of Michigan Research Institute (Ann Arbor, Nov. 1958).)
 (Advanced Orbiting Solar Observatory Prototype Spacecraft, Republic Aviation. Bldg. #7 Garber Facility, NASM.)
 (Richard Tousey, "Some Results of Twenty Years of Extreme Ultraviolet Solar Research," ApJ 149 (1967), 239–252)
 (SAOHP-SSE Working Files, NASM)
 (SAOHP-SSE Working Files, NASM)
 (Sky & Telescope 62/5 (November, 1981): 474–476. Review of Beyond the Atmosphere.)
 (S056 Imaging x-ray.)