Displaying 1 - 10 of total **28** results:

Interviewed by

Charles Weiner

Interview date

Location

Altadena, California

Abstract

Interview covers the development of several branches of theoretical physics from the 1930s through the 1960s; the most extensive discussions deal with topics in quantum electrodynamics, nuclear physics as it relates to fission technology, meson field theory, superfluidity and other properties of liquid helium, beta decay and the Universal Fermi Interaction, with particular emphasis on Feynman's work in the reformulation of quantum electrodynamic field equations. Early life in Brooklyn, New York; high school; undergraduate studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; learning the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics on his own. To Princeton University (John A. Wheeler), 1939; serious preoccupation with problem of self-energy of electron and other problems of quantum field theory; work on uranium isotope separation; Ph.D., 1942. Atomic bomb project, Los Alamos (Hans Bethe, Niels Bohr, Enrico Fermi); test explosion at Alamagordo. After World War II teaches mathematical physics at Cornell University; fundamental ideas in quantum electrodynamics crystalize; publishes "A Space-Time View," 1948; Shelter Island Conference (Lamb shift); Poconos Conferences; relations with Julian Schwinger and Shin'ichiro Tomonaga; nature and quality of scientific education in Latin America; industry and science policies. To California Institute of Technology, 1951; problems associated with the nature of superfluid helium; work on the Lamb shift (Bethe, Michel Baranger); work on the law of beta decay and violation of parity (Murray Gell-Mann); biological studies; philosophy of scientific discovery; Geneva Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy; masers (Robert Hellwarth, Frank Lee Vernon, Jr.), 1957; Solvay Conference, 1961. Appraisal of current state of quantum electrodynamics; opinion of the National Academy of Science; Nobel Prize, 1965.

Interviewed by

Charles Weiner

Interview date

Location

Altadena, California

Abstract

Interview covers the development of several branches of theoretical physics from the 1930s through the 1960s; the most extensive discussions deal with topics in quantum electrodynamics, nuclear physics as it relates to fission technology, meson field theory, superfluidity and other properties of liquid helium, beta decay and the Universal Fermi Interaction, with particular emphasis on Feynman's work in the reformulation of quantum electrodynamic field equations. Early life in Brooklyn, New York; high school; undergraduate studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; learning the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics on his own. To Princeton University (John A. Wheeler), 1939; serious preoccupation with problem of self-energy of electron and other problems of quantum field theory; work on uranium isotope separation; Ph.D., 1942. Atomic bomb project, Los Alamos (Hans Bethe, Niels Bohr, Enrico Fermi); test explosion at Alamagordo. After World War II teaches mathematical physics at Cornell University; fundamental ideas in quantum electrodynamics crystalize; publishes "A Space-Time View," 1948; Shelter Island Conference (Lamb shift); Poconos Conferences; relations with Julian Schwinger and Shin'ichiro Tomonaga; nature and quality of scientific education in Latin America; industry and science policies. To California Institute of Technology, 1951; problems associated with the nature of superfluid helium; work on the Lamb shift (Bethe, Michel Baranger); work on the law of beta decay and violation of parity (Murray Gell-Mann); biological studies; philosophy of scientific discovery; Geneva Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy; masers (Robert Hellwarth, Frank Lee Vernon, Jr.), 1957; Solvay Conference, 1961. Appraisal of current state of quantum electrodynamics; opinion of the National Academy of Science; Nobel Prize, 1965.

Interviewed by

Charles Weiner

Interview date

Location

Altadena, California

Abstract

Interview covers the development of several branches of theoretical physics from the 1930s through the 1960s; the most extensive discussions deal with topics in quantum electrodynamics, nuclear physics as it relates to fission technology, meson field theory, superfluidity and other properties of liquid helium, beta decay and the Universal Fermi Interaction, with particular emphasis on Feynman's work in the reformulation of quantum electrodynamic field equations. Early life in Brooklyn, New York; high school; undergraduate studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; learning the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics on his own. To Princeton University (John A. Wheeler), 1939; serious preoccupation with problem of self-energy of electron and other problems of quantum field theory; work on uranium isotope separation; Ph.D., 1942. Atomic bomb project, Los Alamos (Hans Bethe, Niels Bohr, Enrico Fermi); test explosion at Alamagordo. After World War II teaches mathematical physics at Cornell University; fundamental ideas in quantum electrodynamics crystalize; publishes "A Space-Time View," 1948; Shelter Island Conference (Lamb shift); Poconos Conferences; relations with Julian Schwinger and Shin'ichiro Tomonaga; nature and quality of scientific education in Latin America; industry and science policies. To California Institute of Technology, 1951; problems associated with the nature of superfluid helium; work on the Lamb shift (Bethe, Michel Baranger); work on the law of beta decay and violation of parity (Murray Gell-Mann); biological studies; philosophy of scientific discovery; Geneva Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy; masers (Robert Hellwarth, Frank Lee Vernon, Jr.), 1957; Solvay Conference, 1961. Appraisal of current state of quantum electrodynamics; opinion of the National Academy of Science; Nobel Prize, 1965.

Interviewed by

Charles Weiner

Interview date

Location

Altadena, California

Abstract

Interviewed by

David DeVorkin

Interview date

Location

Indiana University Department of Astronomy, Bloomington, Indiana

Abstract

Early life and education in Manchester; World War I; spectroscopy work at Oxford under Frederick A. Lindemann; visits to Gottingen and Berlin in 1920s; ideas on stellar energy source and stellar structure; work and teaching at Rutgers (1929-1937); World War II research on de-Gaussing, ballistics; moves to Greenwich, then Herstmonceaux observatories; their administration and instruments; solar eclipse work; general relativity theory; return to U.S. Also prominently mentioned are: Herbert Jefcoate Atkinson, Irmin von Holton Atkinson, Mary Kathleen Jane Ashe Atkinson, Niels Henrik David Bohr, John Edward Campbell, Arthur Stanley Eddington, George Gamow, I. O. Griffith, Fritz G. Houtermans, Edwin Powell Hubble, James Hopwood Jeans, H. Spencer Jones, Walther Nernst, Henry Norris Russell, Frederick Soddy, Richard van der Riet Woolley; Aberdeen Proving Ground, Balliol College of University of Oxford, Great Britain Admiralty, Indiana University, Royal Astronomical Society, Royal Greenwich Observatory, United States Proving Ground at Aberdeen, MD Ballistics Research Laboratory, and Universitat Gottingen Observatory.

Interviewed by

David Zierler

Interview date

Location

Video conference

Abstract

Interview with Gerard 't Hooft, University Professor of Physics (Emeritus) at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. 't Hooft considers the possibility that the g-2 muon anomaly experiment at Fermilab is suggestive of new physics, and he reflects broadly on the current shortcomings in our understanding of quantum mechanics and general relativity. 't Hooft recounts his childhood in postwar Holland and the influence of his great uncle, the Nobel Prize winner Frits Zernike and his uncle, the theoretical physicist Nico van Kampen. He describes his undergraduate education at Utrecht University where he got to know Martinus Veltman, with whom he would pursue a graduate degree and ultimately share the Nobel Prize. 't Hooft explains the origins of what would become the Standard Model and the significance of Yang-Mills fields and Ken Wilson’s theory of renormalization. He describes Veltman’s pioneering use of computers to calculate algebraic manipulations and why questions of scaling were able to be raised for the first time. 't Hooft discusses his postdoctoral appointment at CERN, his ideas about grouping Feynman diagrams together, and how he became involved in quantum gravity research and Bose condensation. He explains the value in studying instantons for broader questions in QCD, the significance of Hawking’s work on the black hole information paradox, the holographic principle, and why he has diverged with string theorists. 't Hooft describes being present at the start of supersymmetry, and the growing “buzz” that culminated in winning the Nobel Prize. He describes his overall interest in the past twenty years in thinking more deeply about quantum mechanics and he places the foundational disagreement between Einstein and Bohr in historical context. At the end of the interview, 't Hooft surveys the limitations that prevent us from understanding how to merge quantum mechanics and general relativity and why this will require an understanding of how to relate the set of all integer numbers to phenomena of the universe.

Interviewed by

David Zierler

Interview date

Location

Video conference

Abstract

Interview with Phillip James Edwin Peebles, Albert Einstein Professor of Science, Emeritus, at Princeton University. Peebles describes his enjoyment in pursuing the issues in cosmology that are most interesting to him in retirement and he explains his appreciation for the importance of taking a sociological perspective to science. He describes his first exposure to cosmology as a field to specialize in during graduate school and he surveys some of the experiments and observational advances that have propelled theoretical cosmology. Peebles recounts his childhood in Manitoba, and he discusses his undergraduate education at the University of Manitoba. He describes arriving at Princeton in 1958 and how he became a student of Bob Dicke's. Peebles discusses his thesis research on the possibility that the fine-structure constant might be evolving. He describes staying at (and never leaving) Princeton for his postdoctoral work, and some of the exciting promises of infrared astronomy and radio astronomy. Peebles conveys the simple process of joining the faculty, and he describes the developments leading to the prediction of the cosmic microwave background. He discusses the trend of particle theorists pursuing questions in cosmology, and he reflects on the impact of the Vietnam era on Princeton. Peebles conveys the significance of the introduction of cold dark matter and his perspective on the inflationary theory of the universe. He explains why LambdaCDM has become standard in the field and why COBE was so important. Peebles surveys the many observational projects that are currently being planned, and he reflects on the "buzz" that he felt in advance of winning the Nobel Prize. He describes how his life has been affected by this honor, and he reflects on how the Department of Physics has changed over the course of his long career. At the end of the interview, Peebles emphasizes his interest in remaining close both to theory and experimentation, and he shares his sense of curiosity at what clues might be found from the epoch of light element production in the very early universe.

Interviewed by

David Zierler

Interview date

Location

Video conference

Abstract

Interview with Gabriela Gonzalez, Louisiana State University Boyd Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Gonzalez explains how the pandemic has slowed down data analysis for LIGO, and she recounts her childhood in Cordoba, Argentina. She describes her early interests in science and her physics education as an undergraduate in Cordoba. Gonzalez explains the circumstances that led to her graduate studies at Syracuse University where she studied relativity under the direction of Peter Saulson, and where she first became involved with LIGO. She discusses her postdoctoral appointment at MIT to work in Rai Weiss’s group, and she explains LIGO’s dual goals of detecting gravitational waves and building precision instruments toward that end. Gonzalez explains her decision to join the faculty at Penn State and she describes the site selection that led to the detection facility in Livingston, Louisiana. She describes the necessary redundancy of the LIGO detectors at Livingston and Hanford, Washington, and the importance of “locking” the mirrors on the detectors. Gonzalez describes the overall scene at LIGO in the months up to the detection and the theoretical guidance that improved the likelihood of success. She describes the intensive communication and data analysis to confirm the detection prior to the announcement, and she explains how she felt honored as part of the overall Nobel Prize award and subsequent celebration. Gonzalez describes LIGO’s work in the current post-detection period, and her own focus on diagnostics of the data, and she explains why this work, and the constant concern in missing something important, can be stressful. At the end of the interview, Gonzalez surveys what mysteries LIGO can, and cannot, solve, and she conveys optimism for LIGO’s long-term prospects to continue to push fundamental discovery.

Interviewed by

David Zierler

Interview date

Location

Video conference

Abstract

Interview with William "Bill" Unruh, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of British Columbia, and Hagler Fellow at the Institute for Quantum Science and Engineering at Texas A&M. He credits his mentor John Wheeler for the steady progress of interest and work in general relativity over the decades, and he reflects broadly on the original debates among the relativists and the founders of quantum mechanics. Unruh explains the inability to merge these foundations of physics as the source of his attempts to understand the black hole evaporation as found by Hawking. He recounts his upbringing in Manitoba as part of a Mennonite community and his early interests in Euclidean geometry, and he describes his undergraduate education at the University of Manitoba. Unruh explains his decision to pursue a PhD with Wheeler at Princeton on topology and general relativity, and scattering cross sections of black holes to scalar fields. He describes his postgraduate appointment at Birkbeck College where he worked with Roger Penrose and he narrates the origins of his collaboration with Stephen Fulling and Paul Davies. Unruh discusses his time at Berkeley and then at McMaster and he historicizes the point at which observations made black holes more "real," and he explains his first involvement with decoherence. He explains his involvement with LIGO from its origins and its quantum mechanical nature, and he narrates his reaction of amazement when gravitational waves were detected. Unruh describes the impact of his work in quantum mechanics on computation, and he explains some of the advances that have made observation more relevant to his recent research. At the end of the interview, Unruh describes his efforts to launch a Gravity Archive at UBC, he expresses his frustration with people who insist we do not know quantum mechanics, and he quotes Wheeler, quoting his favorite Grook to convey that he is having fun and wants to learn as much as he can, while he can.

Interviewed by

Spencer Weart

Interview date

Location

The Enrico Fermi Institute, University of Chicago

Abstract

A thorough, reflective survey of the life and work of this theoretical astrophysicist. Early life and education in India, 1910-1930, and experiences at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, 1930-1937, with comments on Edward A. Milne and Arthur S. Eddington; debate with the latter over collapse of white dwarf stars. Move to U.S. in 1937, with comments on the situation at Harvard and Princeton Universities since the 1930s, and especially on Henry N. Russell, John Von Neumann, and Martin Schwarzschild. Social context at University of Chicago and Yerkes Observatory since 1937, with remarks on Gerard Kuiper, Otto Struve, Bengt Strömgren, etc. Work as teacher there, and as editor of Astrophysical Journal from 1951 until it was given to the American Astronomical Society in 1971. Scientific work resulting in Introduction to the Study of Stellar Structure (1939) and publications on stochastic processes in galaxy and in general, radiative transfer, interstellar polarization, hydrodynamics and hydromagnetics (including experimental checks). Recent work on general relativity and Kerr metric; comments on cosmology. General remarks on the social structure of astronomy and its cultural role. Extended discussion of his way of functioning as a theorist. Also prominently mentioned are: Hans Albrecht Bethe, Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac, Enrico Fermi, Ralph Howard Fowler, George Gamow, Robert Hutchins, James Jeans, Alfred H. Joy, William Wilson Morgan, Harry Hemley Plaskett, Sir Chandrasekhar Vankata Raman, Ernest Rutherford, Harlow Shapley, Arnold Johannes Wilhelm Sommerfeld, Lyman Spitzer, Eugene Paul Wigner; Aberdeen Proving Ground, American Astronomical Society, Presidency College (Madras), United States Office of Naval Research, and United States Proving Ground at Aberdeen MD Ballistics Research Laboratory.