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In this interview, Geoffrey Burbidge discusses his life and career. Topics discussed include: his family and childhood; Bristol University; Nevill Mott; University College, London; Harrie Massey; David Robert Bates; theoretical physics seminars at Cambridge University; Richard Feymnan; Freeman Dyson; Dick Dalitz; Abdus Salam; Nicholas Kemmer; becoming interested in astronomy and astrophysics via Margaret Burbidge; Royal Astronomical Society; Clive Gregory; research into stellar parallax, stellar atmospheres; Herbert Dingle; Auger effect; Otto Struve; Harvard University; Bart Bok; Donald Menzel; Harlow Shapley; Yerkes Observatory; development of radio astronomy; I. I. Rabi and big bang skepticism; Chandrasekhar; Gerard Kuiper; Enrico Fermi; Cavendish Laboratory, Martin Ryle; nucleosynthesis; Kapitza Club; Willie Fowler; Fred Hoyle; stellar evolution; steady state cosmology; red shift; Erwin Finlay-Freundlich; Max Born; Mount Wilson Observatory; Allan Sandage; Milt Humason; Ira Bowen; status at women at Hale observatories and at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech); Edwin Hubble; Walter Baade; synchrotron radiation; Rudolph Minkowski; Californium and supernovae; Halton Arp; Hans Suess; Vera Rubin's work on anisotropy; quasars; galaxy formation.
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).
Family background; childhood reading of the encyclopedia; high school interest in athletics; flying model planes with father; early interest in great questions; religious background of parents; skepticism of organized religions; influence of uncles in decision to go to M.I.T.; education at M.I.T.; interest in math and physics; marriage in college; influence of Philip Morrison at M.I.T.; experimental work in nuclear physics as an undergraduate; influence of Icko Iben; move to Caltech in order to work with William Fowler; early preference for steady state and oscillating universe models; work with Gerry Wasserburg on nuclear chronology; history of merger of cosmology with particle physics; work on big bang nucleosynthesis; work on supernovae; history of Schramm's work with Gunn and Steigman on limiting the number of neutrino types; early communication between particle physicists and cosmologists in the 1970s; more discussion of work on big bang nucleosynthesis; establishment of the big bang model; importance of grand unified theories in explaining the photon-to-baryon ratio; inflationary universe model and its dependence on baryogenesis; work on neutrino masses and dark matter; introduction to and attitude toward the horizon problem; attitude toward the inflationary universe model; change in attitude toward the horizon problem as a result of the inflationary universe model; introduction to the inflationary universe model; reasons why the inflationary universe model has been so widely accepted; crucial that inflationary model left many problems to be worked out; attitude toward the inflationary universe model; introduction to and attitude toward the flatness problem; work with Gunn and Tinsely on showing that the universe is open; reaction to de Lapparent, Geller, and Huchra's work on large-scale inhomogeneities; work of Kirshner et al., Kron and Koo on large-scale structure; importance of the availability of telescope time in determining what problems astronomers are interested in and working on; importance of looking for the background instead of simply the most unusual objects; importance of visual images; importance of interacting with others; interplay of theory and observation in cosmology; difficulty in showing whether inflation is right or not; new areas opened up in cosmology in the last decade; outstanding problems in cosmology: large-scale structure, dark matter, and galaxy formation, nature of the vacuum, phase transitions; ideal design of the universe; question of whether the universe has a point.