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Childhood in Germany and family background — competitive spirit; war years — internment and radar work with Bondi and Hoyle (1942-1945) at Cambridge — development of theory of hearing and steady state theory; at Greenwich (1952-1956) — research on lunar surface and terrestrial dynamics; positions at Harvard and Cornell — involvement with Arecibo; involvement with governmental agencies including NSF and NASA — changes in government funding. A major part of the interview covers the development and reception of the steady date theory.
This interview with William E. Gordon was conducted as part of a history of planetary radar astronomy underwritten by NASA. The topics covered reflect the narrow requirements of that history. Gordon begins with a brief mention of the Waynick Memorial Lecture, before discussing the work on radio propagation and scattering that led to his dissertation work at Cornell University under Henry Booker in the department of electrical engineering.
Early years in Vienna; emigration to Sydney, Australia as refugee; training there in theoretical physics, to 1946. Quantum field theory and social interactions under Rudolf Peierls at University of Birmingham, to 1949, and Hans Bethe at Cornell University; relations among U.S. field theorists; nuclear theory applied to experiments. Discovery of triple-alpha process at Caltech, 1951; move into astrophysics and social relations in Cornell physics and astronomy departments. Work on increasing variety of astrophysics problems, some related to cosmology, and on ionosphere; Arecibo observatory.