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In this interview, William Davidon discusses his political and social activism and its relationship to his scientific career. Topics discussed include: Albert Einstein; Norman Thomas; Purdue University; Marvin Goldberger; University of Chicago; atmospheric atomic bomb testing; Cold War; JASON group; Federation of American Scientists; American Friends Service Committee; American Physical Society; Adlai Stevenson; Morton Hamermesh; Haverford College; Hans Ekstein; Fay Ajzenberg-Selove; Committee for Nonviolent Action (CNVA); Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs; Science for the People; Russ Stetler; Society for Social Responsibility in Science (SSRS); Mal Benjamin; Vietnam War protests; A. J. Muste; Oscar Handlin; Dan Berrigan; Union of Concerned Scientists; Henry Kissinger.
The interview ranges from Inglis’ youth and family origins to his current (1977) activities. Topics include his student days (Amherst College 1924-28, Ann Arbor 1928-31), contact with European physicists and rising Nazism (1932-13), the physics departments at Ohio State, University of Pittsburgh, Princeton, and Johns Hopkins in the 1930’s, and the last of these in the 1940’s; atomic spectroscopy, ferromagnetism, uses of the vector model, shift from atomic to nuclear spectroscopy, the Thomas precession and spin-orbit coupling in nuclei, shell and droplet models for nuclei, intermediate coupling model for light nuclei, the earth’s magnetic field, wind-dynamos and nuclear reactors; Los Alamos during World War II, Argonne Laboratory in the 1950’s and 60’s; expression of social concern, especially in relation to the nuclear arms race, in the 1950’s through the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the political victimization of Donald Flanders, the Federation of American Scientists, congressional testimony concerning Lewis Strauss’ (nominee for Sec. of Commerce) experiences at Pugwash Conferences, obstacles to slowing or reversing the arms race.