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Education in chemistry and physics at Washington State University in early 1930s; graduate studies and work on cyclotron under E. O. Lawrence at University of California, Berkeley from 1935-1939; investigations into products of neutron irradiation of uranium; identification of transuranic element 93 with Edwin McMillan; scientific activities at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at Carnegie Institution of Washington; work on enrichment of uranium for nuclear submarine project at the Naval Research Laboratory; describes information channels between scientists and government officials during World War II and his perspective on the use of the atomic bomb; continued work at Carnegie by investigating biosynthesis of E. coli using radioactive tracers; as director of Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory conducted organic geochemical investigations of amino acid decay in Mercenaria mercenaria; co-editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research; reflections of his editorship of Science.
Session two is a joint interview with Robert Herman. Family background and early education, work at Carnegie Institution's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, studies at George Washington University, wartime employment and studies, work with Navy on detection of mines; graduate studies with George Gamow while working at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, early universe theory, first encounter and later work with Robert Herman, interaction with physics community. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and L. R. Henrich, neglect of Alpher and Herman work by astronomical community; General Electric projects: supersonic flow, re-entry physics, the Talaria project; the Penzias/Wilson observations; honors, marriage. Miscellaneous recollections about youth in Washington, D.C., service on scientific committees, public education efforts, work at General Electric. Meeting of Alpher and Herman, their collaboration, cosmological theory, work with George Gamow, Edward Teller, Hans Bethe, Edward Condon, cosmic background radiation, controversy with steady-state adherents and others; systematic neglect of their work, nucleosynthesis in stars, reactions to awards, discussions with Arno A. Penzias at the time of Nobel Prize award (with Robert W. Wilson), correspondence with S. Pasternack about P. James Peeble's cosmology papers, Alpher paper on neutrino and photon background calculation, James Follin, C. Hayashi, Steven Weinberg's presentation in his book The First Three Minutes; current cosmological efforts, A. Zee's papers on cosmology, views on the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, Fred Hoyle's recent writings. Also prominently mentioned are: Niels Henrik David Bohr, Albert Einstein, Richard Phillips Feynman, Lawrence Randolph Hafstad, Robert Hofstadter, Huntington, and H. P. Robertson.
Family background; early interest in physics; chance meeting with Enrico Fermi in youth and early friendship with Emilio Segrè; enrolling in physics at University of Rome; recollections of Orso M. Corbino; 1931 Rome Conference on Nuclear Physics; 1934 visit to Cambridge with Segrè; transition from spectroscopy to nuclear physics work at Rome; reaction to discovery of neutron; Ettore Majorana's work; slow neutron experiments; Fermi's approach toward theory and experiment; failure to discover fission; break-up of Rome group; 1936 trip to America; construction of two accelerators at Rome; 1939 trip to America; decision to discontinue fission experiments at Rome; usefulness of Hans A. Bethe's review articles; style of Rome group; physics elsewhere in Italy during 1930s; contacts with physicists outside Rome during 1930s; Italian physics during the war; postwar concern with elementary particles; recollections of Fermi in postwar period; work considered personally satisfying. Also prominently mentioned are: Herbert Anderson, Gilberto Bernardini, Torkild Bjerge, Patrick Maynard Stuart Blackett, Niels Henrik David Bohr, James Chadwick, Conversi, Otto Robert Frisch, George Gamow, Ettore Majorana, Pancini, Oreste Piccioni, George Placzek, Franco D. Rasetti, Westcott; Accademia Nazionale (Italy), Cavendish Laboratory, Columbia University, Conference on Nuclear Physics (1931 : Rome, Italy), Istituto superiore di sanità, and University of California at Berkeley, CA.
Anderson talks almost exclusively about his work during the thirties with particles of high energy involved in nuclear reactions. He covers in detail his discovery of the positive electron, his pair production work with gamma rays, his expedition to Pike’s Peak with Neddermeyer and their discovery of the mesotron. He mentions that it was in his speech accepting the Nobel Prize in 1936 that he first mentioned the possibility of negative and positive particles of intermediate mass. After noting the absence of any cosmic ray work during the war years, he mentions the postwar development of cosmic ray work into high energy physics.
Discusses his childhood and education in Illinois, undergrad and graduate work at Harvard; writing his thesis with Van Vleck; working at Bell Laboratoreis and the scientists there including William Shockley; the rise of interest in solid state physics in the early 1950s; research in superconductivity; the creation of theory groups at Bell Labs in 1956 and the relationship between theorists and experimenters in the lab; decisions on research topics at Bell; his year in Japan with Kubo; security restrictions at Bell and military research; collaborations with John Galt; experiments leading to localization of electrons in 1956-57; development of superconductivity theory; his visit to the Soviet Union in 1958; collaboration with Morel in 1961 on superconductivity; and research philosophy and approach to problems. Others prominently mentioned are: N. Bogolyubov; George Feher, V. Ginzburg, Gorkov, Charles Kittel, Lev Landau, David Pines, Harry Suhl, Gregory Wannier.
Discusses the collective history of the discovery and development on the transistor. Describes the different interpretations of Shockley, Brattain, and others; discusses the military's lackluster response to transistor discovery. Describes the discovery of PN junction and the importance of early silicon research; discusses his group's search for a semiconductor amplifier. Lists and describes what he believes to be the most crucial experiments during this time of development; discusses the accidental nature of some of their research. Describes the various applications for junction transistors and their development in both the military and consumer sectors.
Family background; undergraduate and graduate studies at Princeton University: electrical engineering 1921, graduate research on ionization of argon and HC1, spectroscopic interests, (MA 1924, PhD 1925); developmental research as engineer for American Telephone and Telegraph Laboratories (1921–23); National Research Council Fellow at Harvard University (1925–27); Bartol Research Foundation Fellow (1927–29), research on “impact of protons on atoms and molecules.” Assistant professor at Cornell University (1929–31), high voltage x-ray research, visit to Cavendish Laboratory, associations (1930); Founding Director of the American Institute of Physics (1931–57): discussions on the origin, nature and funding of AIP; early associations with the Chemical Foundation and American Chemical Society; history of selected AIP journals; public relations to promote physics; Impact of Depression on physics; Depression and post World War II studies on physics manpower and industries.
Natural radioactivity; ideas of nuclear constitution, size in 1920s; Gamow-Condon-Gurney theory of alpha decay 1928; discovery of neutron 1932; Cambridge as a center of research 1933; early theories of nuclear forces; analysis of short-range nuclear forces 1935-40; reasons for writing Rev. Mod. Phys. review articles 1935-37 and detailed review of articles' contents; beta decay and the neutrino hypothesis; application of group-theoretic methods to nuclear physics 1936-37; compound nucleus model 1936; nuclear models in general (compound nucleus, evaporation, liquid drop, direct interaction, statistical); contemporary knowledge of nuclear physics 1938-39; stellar energy production; energy limit on cyclotron; accelerators and theoreticians; nuclear physics at Los Alamos; post-war conferences; origins and development of the shell model of the nucleus; many-body theory in nuclear physics; current algebras in particle physics; origins and development of the optical model; of the collective model; autobiographical comments on political, social, scientific conditions in Germany and England in early 1930s ; nuclear studies at Cornell after the war; building the H-bomb; the Oppenheimer hearings; work as a consultant 1950-1970; involvement with PSAC 1956; views on disarmament; receipt of 1967 Nobel Prize.
In this interview Manfred Biondi discusses topics such as: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); William Allis; S. C. Brown; Ben Bederson; Ted Holstein; Westinghouse Electric Corporation; people from Bell Laboratories; Dan Alpert; Henry Morganeau; Leon Fisher; Rob Varney; Geiger counters; serving in the United States Navy; radar; ionized gas; Ron Geballe; University of Pittsburgh; Julius Molnar; Leonard Loeb.
Recollections of physics community in 1920s and early 1930s; opportunities for physics work in Europe; awareness of political climate in Germany (1932); relationship with Werner Heisenberg at University of Leipzig; awarded Rockefeller Fellowship to study at University of Rome; contacts with physicists after Leipzig and before Rome; John Von Neumann's list of refugee physicists; offered appointment to position at Stanford University; visit to University of Copenhagen and Niels Bohr's advice to accept appointment; relinquishing of second half of fellowship; influenced by Bohr, Heisenberg and others; Bloch's influence on Enrico Fermi leading to theory of neutrino; met by Gregory Breit on arrival in New York; initial teaching duties at Stanford; theoretical physics in America in 1934; distinctions between Europe and America on theory vs. experiment; seminars with J. Robert Oppenheimer; first interest in experimental work; early research on neutrons; recollections of 1935 Michigan Summer School; started Stanford Summer School in 1936 with George Gamow as first visitor (Fermi 1937, Isidor Isaac Rabi 1938, Victor F. Weisskopf 1939); origin of idea of neutron polarization; 1936 paper proposing neutron magnetic moment experiment; 1937 Galvani Conference in Bologna; use of Berkeley 37-inch cyclotron for magnetic moment experiment; decision to build cyclotron at Stanford; construction supported by Rockefeller Foundation; initial involvement with Manhattan Project; recollections of receiving news of fission; neutron work for Manhattan Project at Stanford; marriage in 1940; work on implosion at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory; reasons for leaving Los Alamos; work on radar at Harvard University; first ideas on measuring nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR); helpfulness of radar experience in NMR work; William W. Hansen and the klystron; fate of the first Stanford cyclotron; knowledge of Edward M. Purcell's work on NMR; publication of initial results, 1946-1948; Rabi and Polykarp Kusch's work on molecular beams; development of NMR field; Nobel Prize award; association with CERN, 1954; contributions of greatest impact.