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In this interview, William Davidon discusses his political and social activism and its relationship to his scientific career.
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.
Family background, education, and development of interest in physics; experience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, absorbs prevailing political views. Postdoc position at Stanford University; relationship with Sidney Drell; fails to get tenure. Victor Weisskopf helps obtain position at University of California, Berkeley; Berkeley's environment. Participates in 1962 summer study as junior JASON; work on arms control issues with Matthew Sands; not invited back; negative implications of government consulting.