Oscar Wallace Greenberg

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Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Video conference
Usage Information and Disclaimer
Disclaimer text

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

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Preferred citation

In footnotes or endnotes please cite AIP interviews like this:

Interview of Oscar W. Greenberg by David Zierler on February 16, 2021,
Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics,
College Park, MD USA,

For multiple citations, "AIP" is the preferred abbreviation for the location.


Interview with Oscar Wallace Greenberg, Professor Emeritus and Research Professor at the University of Maryland in College Park, and Adjunct Professor at Rockefeller University. Greenberg discusses growing up in New Jersey as the child of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. He recalls drawing pictures of the stars as a young boy and his early love for mathematics. Greenberg then speaks on his decision to attend Rutgers, where he began as a math major but switched to physics. He recounts his transition to graduate school at Princeton, where he studied with Arthur Wightman and completed his thesis on the asymptotic condition in quantum field theory. The discussion then turns to Greenberg’s post-doctoral positions at Brandeis and MIT. He recalls his early exposure to quarks and the research which eventually led to the development of quark color. Greenberg also reflects on why the concept of quarks took a while to be accepted by the wider physics community. He then recounts his time in the Air Force in the late 1950s and his subsequent positions at Rockefeller University, the Weizmann Institute, and Tel Aviv University. Greenberg speaks on collaborations he’s had over the years, such as those with Eugene Wigner and Albert Messiah, as well as his meetings and conversations with Einstein during his time at Princeton. He ends the interview with his thoughts on what remains unknown regarding quarks, and he encourages physics students today to focus on biophysics.


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