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Childhood in New York; high school experience at Horace Mann; Harvard undergraduate at the age of 15. Impressions of ordeal with Harlow Shapley. Depression years in the family business, return to a very changed Harvard in 1934. Thesis work on Interstellar Absorption (Bart Bok), Ph.D. 1937. Postdoc at Yerkes Observatory (Otto Struve) working on Upsilon Sagittarius. Develops the 140-degree camera (the Greenstein-Louis G. Henyey camera); work with Fred Whipple on radio signals from space (Karl Jansky, Grote Reber), Greenstein and Reber’s review article on classified radio detection work during World War II. Founding of the Astrophysics Department at Caltech. Radio astronomy in the mid-1950s. Work on white dwarfs from 1957 on. Own accomplishments as scientist and in personal life. Impressions of Martin Schwarzschild, Shapley, Reber, Fred Hoyle. Also prominently mentioned are: Walter Sydney Adams, Lloyd Viel Berkner, John Bolton, Leverett Davis, William Alfred Fowler, Leo Goldberg, Louis Henyey, Fred Hoyle, Edwin Powell Hubble, Milton Lasell Humason, Robert Hutchins, Karl Jansky, Gerard Peter Kuiper, Tom R. Matthews, Robert Reynolds McMath, Donald Howard Menzel, Paul Merrill, Rudolph Leo Bernhard Minkowski, William Wilson Morgan, Guido Munch, Beverly Oke, Donald Osterbrock, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, Harry Hemley Plaskett, Robert Richardson, Allan Sandage, Jan Scheldt, Shklovsky, Charlotte Moore Sitterly, Lyman Spitzer, Edward Teller, Richard Chace Tolman, Robert Julius Trumpler, Merle Antony Tuve, Albrecht Otto Johannes Unsold, Immanuel Velikofsky, Frederick Whipple; Carnegie Institution of Washington, Hale Observatories, Harvard College Observatory, Lick Observatory, McDonald Observatory, McDonald Observatory Nebular spectrograph, National Science Foundation (U.S.), 100-inch Telescope, University of Chicago, and Vista Project.
Interview examines early life in San Francisco and first contacts with Astronomy in 1920; Public Lectures under auspices of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific; college years at Berkeley, 1926-1930; interests in physics and astronomy; contact with D. Menzel; move to Caltech and graduate studies; work with Paul Merrill; Mount Wilson in the 1930s; limitations of spectroscopic equipment; recollections of Rubble; job offers and decision to remain at Mount Wilson; origins of research interests and early work leading to Wilson-Bappu Effect; stellar chromospheres and first use of 100-inch in 1938; work on rocket project during World War II; recollections of Walter Baade and W.S. Adams; post-war years at Mount Wilson; Bowen; ONR funding; research on planetary nebulae; instrumentation for the 200-inch; internal peer review system; H.C. Arp’s work; continued work on Wilson-Bappu Effect and need for theoretical understanding; study of the solar cycle; teaching and graduate students; work with Minkowski; re-calibration of Cepheid period/luminosity relationship and Hodge and Wallerstein’s paper of 1967; Baade and Zwicky; the operation of Hale Observatories; kinematics of the Orion Nebula; origin of southern station at Las Campanas; Hale Observatories and Caltech; Bowen’s retirement.