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Part of the Archives for the History of Quantum Physics oral history collection, which includes tapes and transcripts of oral history interviews conducted with circa 100 atomic and quantum physicists. Subjects discuss their family backgrounds, how they became interested in physics, their educations, people who influenced them, their careers including social influences on the conditions of research, and the state of atomic, nuclear, and quantum physics during the period in which they worked. Discussions of scientific matters relate to work that was done between approximately 1900 and 1930, with an emphasis on the discovery and interpretations of quantum mechanics in the 1920s. Also prominently mentioned are: Edwin Plimpton Adams, Niels Henrik David Bohr, Max Born, Frank W. Bubb, Arthur Compton, Karl Compton, Ona K. Defoe, William Duane, Paul Sophus Epstein, Werner Heisenberg, Otto Hellwig, Frank Clark Hoyt, Georg Eric MacDonnell Jauncey, Cornelius Lanczos, Hendrik Antoon Lorentz, Wolfgang Pauli, Philip Rau, Henry Norris Russell, Erwin Schrödinger, Arnold Sommerfeld, John Von Neumann, Norbert Wiener; American Physical Society meeting (Washington), California Institute of Technology, Kaffee Heck (Munich), Princeton University, Princeton University Physics Colloquium, and Washington University.
A thorough, reflective survey of the life and work of this theoretical astrophysicist. Early life and education in India, 1910-1930, and experiences at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, 1930-1937, with comments on Edward A. Milne and Arthur S. Eddington; debate with the latter over collapse of white dwarf stars. Move to U.S. in 1937, with comments on the situation at Harvard and Princeton Universities since the 1930s, and especially on Henry N. Russell, John Von Neumann, and Martin Schwarzschild. Social context at University of Chicago and Yerkes Observatory since 1937, with remarks on Gerard Kuiper, Otto Struve, Bengt Strömgren, etc. Work as teacher there, and as editor of Astrophysical Journal from 1951 until it was given to the American Astronomical Society in 1971. Scientific work resulting in Introduction to the Study of Stellar Structure (1939) and publications on stochastic processes in galaxy and in general, radiative transfer, interstellar polarization, hydrodynamics and hydromagnetics (including experimental checks). Recent work on general relativity and Kerr metric; comments on cosmology. General remarks on the social structure of astronomy and its cultural role. Extended discussion of his way of functioning as a theorist. Also prominently mentioned are: Hans Albrecht Bethe, Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac, Enrico Fermi, Ralph Howard Fowler, George Gamow, Robert Hutchins, James Jeans, Alfred H. Joy, William Wilson Morgan, Harry Hemley Plaskett, Sir Chandrasekhar Vankata Raman, Ernest Rutherford, Harlow Shapley, Arnold Johannes Wilhelm Sommerfeld, Lyman Spitzer, Eugene Paul Wigner; Aberdeen Proving Ground, American Astronomical Society, Presidency College (Madras), United States Office of Naval Research, and United States Proving Ground at Aberdeen MD Ballistics Research Laboratory.
Early life and family origins; Phillips Andover Academy; teachers; Andover and Max Millikan; early interest in astronomy; methodology of science; undergraduate years at Yale University; hobbies, teachers at Yale; physics and Alan Waterman; interest in particle accelerator; extracurricular study group at Yale; interest in economics; Henry Fellowship at University of Cambridge; concentration in theoretical physics; studies with Arthur Eddington. Graduate work at Princeton, Henry Norris Russell, thesis, origins of solar system, spectra of M giants; faculty position at Yale; World War II work; return to Yale; move to Princeton, Martin Schwarzschild, conditions for research at Princeton; space research; Stellerator Program; Jesse Greenstein's Committee; Astronomy Missions Board. Work on planetary filaments; postdoctoral years at Havard University, 1938-1939; positions at Yale; work on underwater sound during World War II; interests in galactic evolution; stellar evolution; Walter Baade's Populations; interstellar medium; growth and activity of Princeton astronomy; Plasma Physics Group, rocketry; Copernicus satellite; large space telescope; funding; responses to specific questions in astronomy and cosmology. Also prominently mentioned are: Frederick M. Boyce, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Fred Hoyle, Raymond Lyttleton, Frank Schlesinger, Harlow Shapley, John Q. Stewart; and National Academy of Sciences (U.S.) Greenstein Committee.
Youth and early education; undergraduate years at Caltech, 1924-1929; influence of Arthur A. Noyes, Linus Pauling; graduate training and molecular beam work at Princeton University with Karl Compton, Edward U. Condon, Robert Van de Graaff, 1929-1932. National Research Council Fellow at University of California at Berkeley, 1932-1934; at Radiation Laboratory with Ernest O. Lawrence, J. Robert Oppenheimer; on Berkeley staff as teacher and working on cyclotrons, nuclear physics and radiochemistry, 1934-1940. War work at MIT, Underwater Sound Laboratory at San Diego, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, 1940-1945; Trinity Test. Postwar career at Berkeley working on accelerators; Nobel Prize, 1951. Also includes "Impressions of Trinity Test," 2 pp. Also prominently mentioned is: Jesse William Monroe DuMond.
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.