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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.
In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Lowell Brown, emeritus professor of physics at the University of Washington. Brown recounts his childhood growing up on a farm in California and his early interests in nuclear physics. He describes his undergraduate experience at Berkeley, where he worked with Burton Moyer’s group in the radiation lab. Brown describes his decision to go to Harvard for graduate school, and the considerations leading to his focus on theoretical work with Julian Schwinger. He describes his dissertation work on a field theory description of elementary particle decay. Brown recounts his postdoctoral research at the University of Rome and at CERN and he discusses his collaborative work at Imperial College. He explains the circumstances leading to his faculty position at Yale, and his decision to join the physics department at UW. Brown provides an institutional history of the department and the major research projects he took on during his career, including the 3-by-3 matrix, the g-2, experiment, quadratic Brownian motion, general relativity, and quantum field theory, about which he wrote a major book in 1994. At the end of the interview, Brown discusses his work at Los Alamos, where he has worked on theoretical research as a consultant, and he describes his lifelong passion for Ferraris.