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Topics discussed include: education and career in astronomy.
Childhood; early interest in science (astronomy). Member of Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 1928. Special student at University of California at Berkeley, 1931, with Donald H. Menzel’s help. Regular student from 1932; comments on teachers and fellow students at Berkeley Student Observatory. Summer assistantship at Lick Observatory (Nicholas Mayall, Arthur B. Wyse), life at Lick Observatory. To Harvard University in 1937 for graduate studies; comparison between Harvard and Berkeley/Lick; teaching assistant at Radcliffe; 3-year membership in Harvard Society of Fellows, from 1939, of enormous importance for his development; works with Menzel and James G. Baker on the Theory of Physical Processes in Gaseous Nebulae, 1937; Analysis of the Atmospheres of the A-type Dwarfs Gamma Geminorum and Sirius based on data from Louis Berman; Jesse Greenstein. Comments on Harvard Summer Schools, Harlow Shapley’ s Square.” Volunteer teacher of elementary physics courses from 1942 at Harvard. Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, 1943-1945; work involved evaluation of the chemists and the Counting Group’s output from the electromagnetic separation process. Job offer from University of Indiana (Frank Edmunson) accepted due to cutback at Radiation Laboratory. Indiana years, 1945-1948, very productive (drafts for two astrophysics books); problems getting telescope time at Yerkes Observatory and unsatisfactory living conditions leads to acceptance of a promising tenured position at Michigan, a center with very active research due to Leo Goldberg; Robert McMath’s influence in the department; Keith Pierce and Aller’s work on infrared solar spectrum. Work performed at Mt. Wilson Observatory and Dominion Astrophysical Observatory. Goldberg resigns in 1959; comments on Aller’s decision to leave Michigan; discussions of funding; “over-head” (Aller’s talk at an AAS Meeting); comparison of Lick Observatory and Kitt Peak Observatory policies. Work at Mt. Stromio Observatory, Australia on sabbatical visits, 1960, 1968-1969, 1977-1978. Overview of opinions of the present state of astronomy. Comments on personal life, wife and children.
Early life and education, high school education affected by rheumatic fever; undergraduate work at Hofstra University (1939-1942); graduate work at Cornell University (1942-1945); Brown University professor (1945-??), hired by Bruce Lindsay; beginning of his research focus on acoustics; beginning of his career with the Acoustical Society of America (ASA).
Interview concentrates on the history of the Physics Department at the University of Washington from August 1903 when Brakel arrived as a half-time graduate assistant. Frederick A. Osborn, who became the first chairman of the Physics Department, had come to the University of Washington as a professor of Physics and Electrical Engineering in 1902. Brakel got his Master's degree in Physics in 1905 and became full-time instructor for $900 a year. When accepted for a job at the Bureau of Standards, his salary was raised to $1300. Brakel took a leave of absence from 1910-1912 and got his Ph.D. at Cornell University. Osborn was chairman of the committee on accrediting. University of Washington administration staff mentioned include Dr. Thomas Franklin Kane (President in 1903) and Kaufman (university librarian). Cornell University staff mentioned include John Sandford Shearer, Ernest George Merritt, Roswell Clifton Gibbs, Edward Leamington Nichols, and Robert D. Richtmyer. Other persons mentioned are Robert W. Wood (University of Wisconsin), Henry Smith Carhart (University of Michigan), and Robert Andrews Millikan (University of Chicago).
Training and influences on his career during graduate years at University of Chicago and Yerkes Observatory in the late 1920s. Discussion of science education and the growth of astronomy in China, activities of the Purple Mountain Observatory in Nanking, and Chang's directorship. Effects of the war for Liberation; discussion of astronomy during the Japanese occupation. Other topics include contact with Bart Bok, visits to Yerkes after World War II, and research in astronomy in China.
Starts with a brief overview of early schooling and physics studies at Università di Pavia in the 1940s, and a two-year visit to University of Illinois to work with Frederick Seitz. Building up and organizing solid state physics studies at Gruppo nazionale di struttura dela Materia; collaboration with Italian industry (Olivetti, Segesto); research funding difficulties. Comments on involvement with the Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste (J. Ziman and N. Marsh); comments on solid state physics in other European countries. Chiarotti's organizational work in Consiglio nazionale delle ricerche and the European Physical Society is mentioned. Views on the popularization of science in the Italian scientific community.
Education, decision to go into physics. Environment at the University of California, Berkeley in early 1950s, especially Charles Kittel's group; Charles Overhauser, et. al. At Berkeley as a graduate student after Charles Kittel's arrival, 1950, Kittel's development of the department (after the loyalty oath); focus on solid state physics, mainly resonance physics (ferromagnetic resonance, cyclotron resonance); University of Chicago and Berkeley relationship. Cohen at Chicago's Institute for the Study of Metals, from 1952. Discussion of the established Institutes for Basic Research: Institute for Nuclear Studies (Enrico Fermi); Institute for the Study of Metals (Cyril Smith, Andy Lawson, Stuart Rice); Low Temperature Laboratory (Earl Long). Contributions in resonance physics, semiconductor physics (Kittel, Cohen, Albert Overhauser, Carson D. Jeffries), superconducting alloys (Bernd T. Matthias and John Hulm); semi-metals, crystal structure, band structure; Fermi surface and Fermi theory of liquids; Clarence Zener anecdote; University of Chicago model of an interdisciplinary research institute for materials science; Lars Onsager's theory (1951) and its stimulating effect; Cohen's encounter with Brian Pippard; General Electric consultant (Walter A. Harrison, free electron model interpretation); James C. Phillip's critical point spectroscopy; Pippard and Eugene I. Blount "missed" the Fermi theory of liquids. Philosophical summarizing on declaring fields "closed," importance of young people in positions of responsibility. Also prominently mentioned are: Luis Alvarez, Chuck Barrett, Robert Dicke, Leopoldo Falicov, Arthur Kip, Lev Landau; and General Electric Company Research Laboratory.
Early life on Ohio farm. College of Wooster, A.H. Compton, Compton family AHC’s academic and extracurricular interests; Princeton years 1913-16, associations and fellowships; marriage 1916; experimentation at Westinghouse Lamp Co. 1917-19, work on “large electron” leading to National Research Fellowship at Cavendish Laboratory 1919-20, associations with Rutherford and J.J. Thompson, living arrangements, weekly colloquia, recollections of Einstein; bringing in new faculty as Chairman of Dept. of Physics at Washington Univ. 1920-23, freedom of research; Guggenheim fellowship at Punjab Univ. 1926-27, organizing Kashmir expedition, observational work and other expedition details. Reaction to AHC’s Nobel Award 1927, Nobel address and trip to Sweden.
Recollections of Solvay and Volta Conferences, associations with Franck, Bohr and Mme. Curie; development of AHC’s cosmic ray interest, world cosmic ray expeditions 1931-34, anecdotes and memories of places visited; Compton-Millikan controversy; comments on Century of Progress Exposition 1933; memories of stay at Oxford on AHC’s Eastman Professorship 1934-35, associates at Oxford; recollection of European colleagues Aston, Fermi, Heisenberg and Sommerfeld. About AHC: Chairman of Physics Dept. at Chicago 1940-45, earlier contacts with Chicago, relation to Michelson, widening of philosophical interests, long-term consultant to General Electric Co. (1926-45), consultant to National Cancer Advisory Council and Chicago Tumor Institute. Disappointment in Compton family life, close working relationship between AHC and Betty, relation of physicists’ wives to their husbands’ work; Betty’s assessment of her career.
In this interview, Edward Uhler Condon discusses topics such as: his family background; early education; influence of high school physics teacher, William Howell Williams, 1914-1918, and later teacher at University of California, Berkeley; interval as boy reporter. Undergraduate years at Berkeley, beginning in 1921 in chemistry department; Ph.D. in physics, 1926; association with Fred Weinberg. Discovery of Erwin Schrödinger's wave mechanics papers; International Education Board fellowship to study quantum mechanics at Göttingen, 1926. Work on Bell Systems technical journal for six months before accepting lectureship at Columbia University; teaching post at Princeton University; Condon and Philip Morse's Quantum Mechanics, result of Columbia and Princeton courses. Relations with University of California; role in persuading Ernest Lawrence to go to Berkeley from Yale University. Recollections of Michigan summer school. Work at Westinghouse on applications of nuclear physics to industry, including completion of Van de Graaff machine, 1937-1940; setting up Westinghouse research fellowships, 1938; Massachusetts Institute of Technology conference on applications of nuclear physics, October 1940; war work on microwave radar. J. Robert Oppenheimer asks Condon to come to Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory; tour of Los Alamos with Leslie Groves; reasons for leaving Los Alamos after a few weeks. Work as head of theoretical section of Lawrence's laboratory, August 1943-1945; British scientists. Evaluation of Westinghouse's four million-volt machine. Description of Nimitron, a physical computer, designed for 1939 World's Fair. Discussion of 1928 radioactivity. Reminiscences of Ronald Gurney's later career and his trouble with security. Discussion of postwar events, such as the Quebec Conference, McMahon Act, Moran's book about Winston Churchill. Peacetime development of atomic energy; establishment of the Senate's Special Committee on atomic energy. Directorship of the National Bureau of Standards (NBS), 1945-1951. Work on superconductivity; W. Emmanuel Maxwell and John Pelham. Accomplishments at NBS. Hearings in 1948 and 1952 before the Department of Commerce under Truman's loyalty program; Averell Harriman. Director of Research at Corning, 1951. House Un-American Activities Committee hearing, 1954; J. R. Oppenheimer and Bernard Peters; reopening of clearances, loss of Corning position; becomes Corning consultant. Head of Washington University physics department, 1956-1963; Oberlin College, 1962; interest in modernizing teaching; Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics (JILA), from 1963; editor of Reviews of Modern Physics, 1957-1968; establishment of the National Accelerator Laboratory (Chicago); the UFO story. Comments on his most satisfying and his least satisfying work. Also prominently mentioned are: Raymond T. Birge and Henry Wallace.