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This interview with A. G. W. Cameron focuses on selected aspects of Cameron's research including nucleosynthesis and use of computers in research. Covers Cameron's different topics of research as well as various institutional appointments. Also comments on style of research and William Fowler's receipt of Nobel prize. Other topics discussed include: his family background and childhood, graduate work at the University of Saskatchewan, Leon Katz, photonuclear reactions, astrophysics, Paul Merrill, galactic evolution, Iowa State teaching nuclear physics, Chalk River, advising work for Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and Department of Energy (DOE), hydrogen bomb, origin of the moon, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Stirling Colgate, nuclear astrophysics, teaching at Yale University, big bang theory, Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Fred Whipple, Leo Goldberg, Hans Suess, Harold Urey, William Fowler, Fred Hoyle, Geoffrey Burbidge, California Institute of Technology, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Parental background; early interest in science and experience looking through friend's telescope in the fourth grade; feeling of compulsion as a child to go into science; sense of duty inherited from parents; early reading in science; pleasure of solving problems in science; education at Miami University and influential teachers there; experience in the Navy in 1944 and 1945; education at University of illinois; learning observational techniques from Robert Baker; getting into Caltech; attraction of the new 200-inch telescope; attraction of Edwin Hubble and Walter Baade; Sandage's intention of being an apprentice; Sandage's childhood feelings that the world was spirit and magic and the disappearance of those feelings upon entering Caltech; education at Caltech; equations became reality at Caltech; the mystery of science; Ph.D. work with Baade on finding and fitting main sequences in globular clusters; history of motives of work with Martin Schwarzschild on dating globular clusters; apprenticeship with Hubble on the 200-inch telescope; Sandage's later monopoly of the 200-inch after Hubble died; Sandage's feeling of responsibility to carry on Hubble's work; objections to the steady state model; learning about the big bang model; limits of Hubble's understanding of the big bang model; influence of theoretical papers by Mattig; influence of Fred Hoyle; introduction to and early attitude toward the horizon and flatness problems; change in cosmology from finding out what galaxies are like to how galaxies originated; Sandage's change in attitude toward the horizon problem; attitude tow.ard the grand unified theories; Sandage's gradual appreciation for the "new" cosmology, involving particle physics; change in attitude toward the flatness problem; attitude toward dark matter and missing mass; openess to the value of omega; problem of consistent ages in cosmology; many forms of evidence for the big bang model; reaction to de Lapparent, Geller, and Huchra's work on large- scale inhomogeneities and importance of similar work done earlier by Gregory, Thompson, Rood, Chincarini and Tifft; relation between theory and observation; science is not the discovery of absolute truth but only an approximation to reality; lack of good observations at the frontiers of science; the change in cosmology from asking only "where" and "what" to also asking "how;" outstanding problems in cosmology: dark matter and value of omega; ideal design of the universe; question of whether the universe has a point.
Family background; early interest in mathematics; early hobbies; early reading; influence of grandmother; education at Cornell; influence of Paul Olum; interest in philosophy at Cornell; influence of Fred Hoyle's Messenger lectures at Cornell; education at Stanford; engineering versus physics; influence of fellow graduate students at Stanford; thesis work with Leonard Schiff. on the gravitational collapse of rotating massive objects; first Texas Symposium in Dallas in 1963 and announcement of Kerr solution; interest in cosmology in graduate school; interest in Mach's principle; discouraging encounter with John Bachcall at Caltech; switch to nuclear astrophysics at Caltech; motivating influence of William Fowler; history of big bang nucleosynthesis calculations and the work of Alpher, Herman, Gamow, Fermi, Turkevich, Follin; reasons why big bang nucleosynthesis work wasn't done earlier and the initial motivation to make all the elements in the big bang; role of Fred Hoyle in big bang nucleosynthesis calculations; scientific philosophy of George Gamow; motivation of Fowler by Hoyle; interest of Hoyle in making all the elements in massive stars within the context of the steady state theory; Hoyle's suggestion of population III stars; Hoyle's explanation for the origin of the cosmic background radiation; early work of Tayler and Hoyle in 1964 on big bang nucleosynthesis and the cosmological restriction of the number of neutrino types;. work of James Peebles on big bang nucleosynthesis; first announcement of results of Wagoner, Fowler, and Hoyle calculations· and reception by the community; supporting evidence for the big bang model from the interstellar deuterium abundance and the calculations of Reeves, Audoze and others on production of lithium, beryllium, and boron; Wagoner's continuing worry about whether the big bang model is correct; introduction to and attitude toward the horizon problem; initial reception of the inflationary universe model; attitude toward the inflationary universe model; desire of Wagoner to probe the universe with physics that we know, and his concern over the uncertainties with the inflationary universe model; attitude toward the flatness problem; Wagoner's interest in letting observation, not theory, tell us the value of omega; prevalence of personal prejudice as a motivator among scientists and the danger of this prejudice; reaction to de Lapparent, Geller, and Huchra's work on large-scale inhomogeneities; worry over reconciliation of observed inhomogeneities of galaxies with the homogeneity of the cosmic background radiation; worry over validity of the cosmological principle; more discussion of Wagoner's preference for doing cosmology with well understood physical probes; outstanding problems in cosmology: dark matter, value of omega, nature of central engine of quasars, evolution of structure; ideal design of the universe and importance of extraterrestrial life; question of whether the universe has a point.