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The interview includes an overview of Robert Davis's childhood and early interest in astronomy; his experiences as an undergraduate, a Naval Officer, and a graduate student in the 1940s and early 1950s; his interest in observational astronomy; his work in ultraviolet stellar magnitudes, and his appointment as head of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory's Project Celescope in the late 1950s. He outlines the Celescope program, the design of the telescope, the decision to use image tubes and problems encountered with funding, and the successes, failures and ultimate relevance of the program. Ruth Davis comments on the changes of the social climate at the observatory as the staff increased. He concludes the interview by commenting on former colleagues, changes in astronomy and the legacy of Project Celescope. Among those prominently mentioned are: Vaughan Harmon, Harlow Shapley, and Fred Whipple.
Childhood in New York City; studying astronomy and literature at Harvard (1925-1929, M.A. 1930); work during the Depression in real estate and at Columbia; graduate-education in the new astrophysics at Harvard (1934-1937), contacts with H. Shapley, C. Payne, H.N. Russell; work at Yerkes from 1937: nebula spectroscopy, stellar composition, stellar atmospheres; contacts with 0. Struve, S. Chandrasekhar, B. Stromgren; optical design work during World War II. Move to Cal Tech, 1947, contacts with W. Baade, I. Bowen, F. Zwicky, N. Schmidt, L. Dubridge, etc.; organization, administration, research conditions, and allocation of observing time at Mt. Wilson and Palomar Observatories; work in building up astronomy department at Cal Tech, character of staff relations, and fund-raising. Postwar work oil, abundances of elements, white dwarf stars, high-dispersion spectroscopy, radio astronomy, and quasars; ideas about cosmology and other topics. Involvement with military advising at Cal Tech from 1950, satellite reconnaissance, and industrial advising; early work on rocket astronomy and as senior adviser to NASA (ca. 1957-1977). Editor of “Stellar Atmospheres” series; work with National Academy of Sciences and author of its 1972 astronomy survey; efforts to popularize astronomy. Ideas about large space -- and ground-based telescopes. Particular attention is given to the organizational strengths and weaknesses of important astronomy organizations.
Reminiscences about Otto Struve while he was Director of Yerkes Observatory and chairman of the Astronomy Department at University of Chicago. Also, comments on the Nobel Prize, its affect on recipients; discussion of the value, beauty, and cultivation of science.
Marc Davis discusses his childhood in Canton Ohio and family background; early reading; education at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and at Princeton University; thesis work with Jim Peebles and discussion of Peebles; early work on the correlation function of galaxies; creation of the Center for Astrophysics (CFA) redshift survey in 1978; attitude toward the horizon problem; attitude toward the inflationary universe model; biasing, cold dark matter, and models of the formation of large-scale structure; attitude toward the flatness problem; attitude toward the CFA redshift surveys by de Lapparent, Geller, and Huchra; the question of whether the universe is homogeneous; relationship of theory and observation; important outstanding problems in cosmology: the Great Attractor, biasing, dark matter, galaxy formation; the ideal design of the universe; the question of whether the universe has a point.
Van de Hulst recalls his interest in space science. Discusses Space Science in Holland and the effect of Sputnik. Discusses the foundation of the European Space Research Agency (ESR). Describes the connection between American and European ideas concerning the Large Astronomical Netherlands Satellite (ANS) and knowledge of NASA Large Space Telescope. Describes the Williamsburg Conference of 1976 and the deadlock between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). Discusses changes in IST (Instrument Science Team) and its original organization. Discusses NASA-ESA relations. Describes the effect of NASA's cancellation of the ISPM (International Solar Polar Mission).
In this interview Reimar Lust discusses topics such as: Ludwig Prandtl; University of Gottingen; his time during World War II; Erwin Madelung; Max Planck Institute; Werner Heisenberg; Carl von Weizsacker; movement of the sun; Martin Schwarzschild; Argonne National Laboratory; Courant Institute; astrophysics; James Van Allen; Adolf Butenandt; Ludwig Biermann; Max Planck Society; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); plasma physics; European Space Research Organization (ESRO); Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics; Ralf Dahrendorf; Helmut Schmidt.
A biographical interview; Tananbaum was director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory's Chandra X-Ray Observatory at the time of interview. Discusses his childhood and education including time at Yale and MIT; initial forays into X-ray astronomy; anecdotes about Riccardo Giacconi and launch of Uhuru Satellite in 1970; discovery of first black hole in Cygnus S-1 and confirmation of binary accretion model as source for x-rays. Transition of AS&E staff to Center for Astrophysics; building of High Energy Astrophysics division at CFA; Tananbaum's research interests; CHAMP project with Chandra. Discussion of building Chandra as well as comparison of Chandra project with Hubble telescope. The politics and finding for Chandra; its operation. HEAO-B (Einstein) mission covered including its precursors, detector technologies, and science contributions. Tananbaum's time on various NASA committees and the creation of a long-term strategy for space astronomy mentioning Chandra, Hubble, SIRTF, and NGST. Discussion of important topics in astronomy research including the merging of physics and astronomy in some areas. Committee contributions including decadal survey work. Thoughts on religion, family, values and personal meaning. Most significant changes in his career including personal rewards.
Family history. Margaret Harwood’s lectures at Maria Mitchell Observatory in Nantucket; B.A. from Barnard College, 1925; work with Harlow Shapley at Harvard University, 1926; funding of astronomy projects and Shapley’s other interests in phenomena of nature. M.A. from Radcliffe, 1928. Other female astronomers: Helen Hogg, Antonia Maury, Cecilia Payne Gaposchkin; marriage of the Gaposchkins. Her paper at dedication of Tonantzintla Observatory. Work on LORAN navigation tables with Fletcher Watson during World War II; position at Barnard and Columbia; lecturer at Connecticut College for Women. Work as Walter Baade’s assistant at Hale Observatory, Baade’s work style and influence; Ira S. Bowen, Edwin P. Hubble, disputes among Shapley, Hubble and Baade. History of Swope’s work on variable stars, direct observation in Australia with Bart Bok, 1965; work with Margaret Mayall in American Association of Variable Star Observers. History of technique and changes in astronomy. History of attitudes towards women in astronomy; view of her own role and work in astronomy.
Comments on parents and teachers; schooling in Rochester; studies at University of Rochester and at Princeton University with comments on faculty and fellow students; thesis collaboration with John Marshall; Victor Weisskopf, M.I.T. and the Radiation Laboratory during war, microwave techniques applied to atomic physics. Return to Princeton after war, Angular Momentum of Radiation; 1957 and the start of cosmology and relativity publications; Eötvös experiment and Mach's principle; discussions of own and others' experimental work; big science; George Gamow, Ralph Alpher, Robert Herman; paper with P. James Peebles Nostrums and Conundrums; National Academy of Sciences; funding in science.
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.