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Recollections of physics community in 1920s and early 1930s; opportunities for physics work in Europe; awareness of political climate in Germany (1932); relationship with Werner Heisenberg at University of Leipzig; awarded Rockefeller Fellowship to study at University of Rome; contacts with physicists after Leipzig and before Rome; John Von Neumann's list of refugee physicists; offered appointment to position at Stanford University; visit to University of Copenhagen and Niels Bohr's advice to accept appointment; relinquishing of second half of fellowship; influenced by Bohr, Heisenberg and others; Bloch's influence on Enrico Fermi leading to theory of neutrino; met by Gregory Breit on arrival in New York; initial teaching duties at Stanford; theoretical physics in America in 1934; distinctions between Europe and America on theory vs. experiment; seminars with J. Robert Oppenheimer; first interest in experimental work; early research on neutrons; recollections of 1935 Michigan Summer School; started Stanford Summer School in 1936 with George Gamow as first visitor (Fermi 1937, Isidor Isaac Rabi 1938, Victor F. Weisskopf 1939); origin of idea of neutron polarization; 1936 paper proposing neutron magnetic moment experiment; 1937 Galvani Conference in Bologna; use of Berkeley 37-inch cyclotron for magnetic moment experiment; decision to build cyclotron at Stanford; construction supported by Rockefeller Foundation; initial involvement with Manhattan Project; recollections of receiving news of fission; neutron work for Manhattan Project at Stanford; marriage in 1940; work on implosion at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory; reasons for leaving Los Alamos; work on radar at Harvard University; first ideas on measuring nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR); helpfulness of radar experience in NMR work; William W. Hansen and the klystron; fate of the first Stanford cyclotron; knowledge of Edward M. Purcell's work on NMR; publication of initial results, 1946-1948; Rabi and Polykarp Kusch's work on molecular beams; development of NMR field; Nobel Prize award; association with CERN, 1954; contributions of greatest impact.
Education at the Universities of Vienna, Zurich and Gottingen; taught at University of Munich 1926. Early interest in the application of statistical analysis to physical problems. One of the earliest emigree physicists to come to America, taking positions at Johns Hopkins University and the Catholic University of America. In addition to scientific articles he has written a number of studies on the philosophical and theological implications of modern physics. Also prominently mentioned are: Niels Henrik David Bohr, Kazimir Fajans, Fritz Hasenoehrl, Theodore von Kármán, Frank Rice, Arnold Johannes Wilhelm Sommerfeld, Otto Stern, Edward Teller, Theodore von Kármán, Wilhelm Wien; Los Alamos National Laboratory, United States Army, United States Navy, United States Office of Scientific Research and Development-National Defense Research Committee, Universität München, Universität Wien, and Universität Zürich.
Born in Oregon 1912, entered Purdue University, 1932, studying solid state physics, teaching assistant work with Lothar Nordheim on crystal structure, 1937; Ph.D. thesis, 1937 (published 1940); physics department under Karl Lark-Horovitz grows in the 1930s, visiting lecturers (refugees from Germany and Europe: Lothar Nordheim, Hans Bethe, Edward Teller, Eugene Wigner). First cyclotron (homemade), 1935. War work: basic research in germanium, rectification of crystals (Bethe), close connections with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania; Lark-Horovitz chose solid state physics as less sensitive field with respect to clearance; showed silicon-germanium intrinsic semiconductors, 1942; General Electric’s germanium interest; success interpreting resistivity and thermoelectric behavior in germanium, 1944. American Physical Society meeting intense interest in Purdue presentations, January 1946; the transistor, 1948 (William Shockley, Ralph Bray); how to grow germanium crystals, 1949; Esther Conwell’s thesis (Victor Weisskopf). Also prominently mentioned are: John Backus, Seymour Benzer, Hubert Maxwell James, A. A. Knowlton, K. W. Meissner, E. P. Miller, Ronald Smith, Herbert J. Yearian; and Purdue University Department of Physics.
Departure from Hitler's Germany in 1933; German political situation and antisemitism. Fritz Lindemann's role in securing a position for Kuhn at University of Oxford, where he joined Derek Jackson's group working on high resolution spectroscopy; own interests more in astrophysics. Interview deals mainly with Kuhn's World War II work in Francis Simon's group at Oxford, where he developed diffusion membranes for molecular flow in gases. Impressions of visits to, and travel in the U.S. during the War. Justification for the development of atom bomb; the Franck report. Also prominently mentioned are: Niels Bohr, James Franck, Otto Frisch, and Klaus Fuchs.
Gottingen community in 1930’s; relations with Max Born, Maria Goeppert-Mayer, Stein’s career in pediatrics and as refugee from Germany (left 1939 for Edinburgh); the community of physicists in New Jersey in 1941.
Emigrates from Austria to England in 1938, and then to the United States in 1939; parents unhappy in America in the 1940s; father's socialism in Austria. Undergraduate (physics) at College of Charleston, SC., to University of Wisconsin for graduate study; meets Gregory Breit; M.A. in mathematics; joins American Youth for Democracy (Young Communist League), and then the Communist Party in 1946. Follows Breit to Yale University in 1947 to complete doctorate. After Ph.D. at Yale completed, works with Fritz London at Duke University; original plans for instructorship at Yale abandoned by Breit when he discovered Zilsel could not get security clearance; comparison of Breit's and J. Robert Oppenheimer's attitudes. Southern aristocracy and social anti-Semitism in Charleston; London's isolation at Duke and his views on intellectual and cultural level there; Paul Lazarfeld. Zilsel expelled from Communist Party in 1948; London teaches one year in London and Zilsel goes to Colorado State. The House Un-American Activities Committee hearings; Zilsel's lawyer; suspension from teaching at University of Connecticut. Nathan Rosen and the physics department at Technion (Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa; Zilsel, wife and children move to Haifa; joins physics department. Progression of Zilsel’s political views; attitude toward Jews and Arabs in Israel. Moves to McMaster University in Canada, 1956; discussion of old dissertation topics (low energy neutron-proton scattering theory, Pais’ f-field and its effect on scattering), and the switch to statistical mechanics and helium. Lecturer at Case Western Reserve University, 1958 (to avoid denaturalization); political activity, there; reflects on his need to take extreme political positions Conference in Vienna, 1987, "Die Vertriebene Vernuft;” pervasive sense of nostalgia and of having sold out. Reflections on father’s suicide, Zilsel's own loyalty to principle; and the state of Israel. Detailed discussion of Fritz London; his personal style; Zilsel's contribution to his two volume work on superconductivity and helium; joint paper with London on heat conductivity. London's lack of involvement in political activity, Breit's fear of it.