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Slater leaves Harvard University for Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1930 (Karl Compton) to build up Physics Department there; work on quantum electrodynamics. Growth of MIT Physics Department in the 1930s and 1940s, relations between experimentalists and theorists; discussion of works and publications during the 1930s. Changes in U.S. physics; overview of post-World War II physics to 1951, and reasons for establishing own research group; establishment of the Radiation Lab, 1940; magnetron work; Bell Labs visits, 1941-1942 and 1943-1945. Planning of postwar development in MIT Physics Department; transition from Radiation Lab to Research Lab of Electronics; formation of laboratories of nuclear science, acoustics, and spectroscopy; the Lincoln Laboratory, the Instrumental Lab; growth of nuclear branch of Physics Department; physics activity in general in postwar years, Solid State and Molecular Theory Group; the Compton Lab.; Materials Science Center established ca. 1958; interdepartmental and interdisciplinary work; visits to Brookhaven National Laboratory; Slater and Per Olov Lowdin’s Florida Group. Also prominently mentioned are: John Bardeen, W. Buechner, Arthur Holly Compton, Edward Uhler Condon, Jens Dahl, Robley Dunglison Evans, James Brown Fisk, George Harrison, Douglas Rayner Hartree, Raymond George Herb, Milton Stanley Livingston, Millard Manning, Jacob Millman, Wayne B. Nottingham, Isidor Isaac Rabi, Schafer, William Shockley, R. A. Smith, Julius Stratton, Robert Jamison Van de Graaff, John Hasbrouck Van Vleck, Eugene Paul Wigner; American Physical Society, California Institute of Technology, Florida State University, Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, Princeton University, University of Bristol, University of California at Berkeley, and University of Chicago.
In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Sean M. Carroll, Research Professor of Physics at Caltech, External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute, and founder of preposterousuniverse.com and the Mindscape podcast. Carroll recounts his childhood in suburban Pennsylvania and how he became interested in theoretical physics as a ten-year-old. He explains the factors that led to his undergraduate education at Villanova, and his graduate work at Harvard, where he specialized in astronomy under the direction of George Field. Carroll explains how his wide-ranging interests informed his thesis research, and he describes his postgraduate work at MIT and UC Santa Barbara. He describes the fundamental importance of the discovery of the accelerating universe, and the circumstances of his hire at the University of Chicago. Carroll provides his perspective on why he did not achieve tenure there, and why his subsequent position at Caltech offered him the pleasure of collaborating with top-flight faculty members and graduate students, while allowing the flexibility to pursue his wide-ranging interests as a public intellectual involved in debates on philosophy, religion, and politics; as a writer of popular science books; and as an innovator in the realm of creating science content online. Carroll conveys the various push and pull factors that keep him busy in both the worlds of academic theoretical physics and public discourse. At the end of the interview, Carroll shares that he will move on from Caltech in two years and that he is open to working on new challenges both as a physicist and as a public intellectual.