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B.A. in physics from New York University, 1940; graduate work at University of California at Berkeley; contacts with J. Robert Oppenheimer at Berkeley and Princeton University; move to industrial physics and Bell Labs; re-entered university life at University of Wisconsin; developed University of California Santa Barbara's Institute for Theoretical Physics. Majority of interview devoted to JASON: motivation for joining; chairmanship of JASON during Vietnam involvement; selection of projects; important projects; technical advice versus policy advice; impact of JASON. Also prominently mentioned are: Bruce Babbit, Hans Albrecht Bethe, Sidney David Drell, Richard Lawrence Garwin, Marvin Leonard Goldberger; American Physical Society, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, Stanford Research Institute, Three Mile Island, United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, United States Navy, United States President's Science Advisory Committee, and University of California at Santa Barbara Quantum Institute.
Family background and childhood in Germany, 1919-1934; emigration to U.S. and undergraduate study and life at Princeton University, 1934-1938. Graduate work at California Institute of Technology, 1938-1942; work with Jesse W. M. DuMond, course load, and importance of his thesis. War work at California Institute of Technology; problems because of enemy alien status; work on firing error indicators. War work at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory: atomic bomb explosion, feelings concerning implications. Research at University of California at Berkeley, 1945-1951: construction of linear accelerator under Luis Alvarez (training, funding, working relationships, work schedules, relationship with other research groups), work on synchrotron, bevatron, Material Testing Accelerator project, neutal meson work and pion work; campus life, teaching responsibilities, textbook writing with Melba Phillips; security measures at Berkeley, 1945-1951: Berkeley's loyalty oath leads to move to Stanford University, 1951. The "Screw Driver" report (with Robert Hofstadter) for the Atomic Energy Commission. Korean War-related work (Felix Bloch, Edward L. Ginzton, Robert Kyhl); rigid politics of physics department; Washington involvement; consultant to the Air Force Science Advisory Board; Hans Bethe, Edward Teller; Bethe's Conference of Experts, 1958; Geneva negotiations, 1959; George Kistiakowski and Isidor I. Rabi; appointment to President's Science Advisory Committee, 1960; Dwight D. Eisenhower. Government support of science; Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC); Joint Committee on Atomic Energy hearings (Ginzton, Varian Associates); avoiding the "Berkeley image" at SLAC. Also prominently mentioned are: Sue Gray Norton Alsalan, Carl David Anderson, Raymond Thayer Birge, Hugh Bradner, Henry Eyring, Don Gow, Alex E. S. Green, William Webster Hansen, Joel Henry Hildebrand, Giulo Lattes, Ernest Orlando Lawrence, Edwin Mattison McMillan, John Francis Neylan, Hans Arnold Panofsky, Ryokishi Sagane, Robert Gordon Sproul, Raymond L. Steinberger, Charles Hard Townes, Watters, Gian Carlo Wick, John Robert Woodyard, Dean E. Wooldridge, Fritz Zwicky; Federation of American Scientists, and Lawrence Radiation.
<p>Then, the project finally got authorized in 1961 — but again after a rather amusing set of coincidences. At that time the Stanford project was sort of known as the Republican project because Eisenhower had proposed it to a Democratic Congress. At that time there was a project that the Democrats wanted in Congress which the Republican administration did not want. This was for the Hanford Reactor to generate power into the electrical net, because it was considered to be socialized electricity by the Republicans, to have power generated by a production reactor. There was also good economic and technical reasons against such a project. It’s a very inefficient reactor, for power generation because of the low temperature at which the Hanford reactor operates. Anyway, the Democrats wanted it and the Republicans didn't.</p>
<p>On the other hand, the Stanford linear accelerator was considered to be a Republican proposal, opposed by the Democrats. So after a while the Republicans and Democrats in the Joint Committee essentially said, "If you approve Hanford, then we approve Stanford." So it ended up with both of them getting approved, and it was this entirely political infighting in the Congress which resulted in that last hurdle being passed. However in 1960, we already had very good confidence that it would go, because the three million dollars was fundamentally a signal to us that Congress really meant it but that they wanted to slap Mr. Eisenhower’s wrist for non-consultation.</p>