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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.
In this interview, Edward Uhler Condon discusses topics such as: his family background; early education; influence of high school physics teacher, William Howell Williams, 1914-1918, and later teacher at University of California, Berkeley; interval as boy reporter. Undergraduate years at Berkeley, beginning in 1921 in chemistry department; Ph.D. in physics, 1926; association with Fred Weinberg. Discovery of Erwin Schrödinger's wave mechanics papers; International Education Board fellowship to study quantum mechanics at Göttingen, 1926. Work on Bell Systems technical journal for six months before accepting lectureship at Columbia University; teaching post at Princeton University; Condon and Philip Morse's Quantum Mechanics, result of Columbia and Princeton courses. Relations with University of California; role in persuading Ernest Lawrence to go to Berkeley from Yale University. Recollections of Michigan summer school. Work at Westinghouse on applications of nuclear physics to industry, including completion of Van de Graaff machine, 1937-1940; setting up Westinghouse research fellowships, 1938; Massachusetts Institute of Technology conference on applications of nuclear physics, October 1940; war work on microwave radar. J. Robert Oppenheimer asks Condon to come to Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory; tour of Los Alamos with Leslie Groves; reasons for leaving Los Alamos after a few weeks. Work as head of theoretical section of Lawrence's laboratory, August 1943-1945; British scientists. Evaluation of Westinghouse's four million-volt machine. Description of Nimitron, a physical computer, designed for 1939 World's Fair. Discussion of 1928 radioactivity. Reminiscences of Ronald Gurney's later career and his trouble with security. Discussion of postwar events, such as the Quebec Conference, McMahon Act, Moran's book about Winston Churchill. Peacetime development of atomic energy; establishment of the Senate's Special Committee on atomic energy. Directorship of the National Bureau of Standards (NBS), 1945-1951. Work on superconductivity; W. Emmanuel Maxwell and John Pelham. Accomplishments at NBS. Hearings in 1948 and 1952 before the Department of Commerce under Truman's loyalty program; Averell Harriman. Director of Research at Corning, 1951. House Un-American Activities Committee hearing, 1954; J. R. Oppenheimer and Bernard Peters; reopening of clearances, loss of Corning position; becomes Corning consultant. Head of Washington University physics department, 1956-1963; Oberlin College, 1962; interest in modernizing teaching; Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics (JILA), from 1963; editor of Reviews of Modern Physics, 1957-1968; establishment of the National Accelerator Laboratory (Chicago); the UFO story. Comments on his most satisfying and his least satisfying work. Also prominently mentioned are: Raymond T. Birge and Henry Wallace.