American Physical Society

Interviewed by
Charles Weiner
Interview date
Location
Slater's office, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Abstract

Slater leaves Harvard University for Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1930 (Karl Compton) to build up Physics Department there; work on quantum electrodynamics. Growth of MIT Physics Department in the 1930s and 1940s, relations between experimentalists and theorists; discussion of works and publications during the 1930s. Changes in U.S. physics; overview of post-World War II physics to 1951, and reasons for establishing own research group; establishment of the Radiation Lab, 1940; magnetron work; Bell Labs visits, 1941-1942 and 1943-1945. Planning of postwar development in MIT Physics Department; transition from Radiation Lab to Research Lab of Electronics; formation of laboratories of nuclear science, acoustics, and spectroscopy; the Lincoln Laboratory, the Instrumental Lab; growth of nuclear branch of Physics Department; physics activity in general in postwar years, Solid State and Molecular Theory Group; the Compton Lab.; Materials Science Center established ca. 1958; interdepartmental and interdisciplinary work; visits to Brookhaven National Laboratory; Slater and Per Olov Lowdin’s Florida Group. Also prominently mentioned are: John Bardeen, W. Buechner, Arthur Holly Compton, Edward Uhler Condon, Jens Dahl, Robley Dunglison Evans, James Brown Fisk, George Harrison, Douglas Rayner Hartree, Raymond George Herb, Milton Stanley Livingston, Millard Manning, Jacob Millman, Wayne B. Nottingham, Isidor Isaac Rabi, Schafer, William Shockley, R. A. Smith, Julius Stratton, Robert Jamison Van de Graaff, John Hasbrouck Van Vleck, Eugene Paul Wigner; American Physical Society, California Institute of Technology, Florida State University, Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, Princeton University, University of Bristol, University of California at Berkeley, and University of Chicago.

Interviewed by
Joan Warnow and Robert Williams
Interview date
Location
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Abstract

Childhood and high school education; undergraduate eduction at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bachelor's thesis with John Slater on energy level spacings in the multiple structure of transition metal atoms; graduate education at Urbana, Illinois, first paper under John Bardeen on the problem of transport of electrons bound to surfaces in semiconductors (Bardeen, David Pines); doctoral thesis on superconductivity, theoretical issues relevant to it; Leon Cooper's contributions, field theory, the bound state; Bardeen wins the Nobel Prize, emotional letdowns related to slow results of research; Stevens Conference on the many-body problem and American Physical Society Meeting, 1957; application of the Tomonaga variational technique, work on it with Cooper and Bardeen, problems with the second order phase transition, Bardeen's solution of the wave function; refinements of the new theory of superconductivity; feelings about working with Bardeen and Cooper; reactions of the scientific community to the new theory (Niels Bohr, Norman Ramsey); views on scientific creativity; the square dance analogy of the B-C-S theory; the Nobel Prize, 1972; American and Soviet competition for solution of superconductivity; objections to the theory based on gauge invariance properties; aftermath of discovery and Nobel Prize. Also prominently mentioned are: Jane Bardeen, John Bardeen, Nikolay N. Bogoliubov, Bohr family, Keith Allan Brueckner, Eli Burstein, Butler, Leon Cooper, Richard Phillips Feynman, Dave Frisch, Frölich, Ernest Guillemin, Douglas Rayner Hartree, Werner Heisenberg, David Hilbert, George F. Koster, Fritz London, Francis Eugene Low, Arkadii Beinusovich Migdal, David Pines, Léon Rosenfeld, Blat Schatloff, Ann Schrieffer, Frederick Seitz, Charles Slichter, Gregor Wentzel; Institute for Theoretical Physics (Copenhagen), and Niels Bohr Institutet.

Interviewed by
Joan Warnow
Interview date
Location
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Abstract

Childhood and high school education; undergraduate eduction at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bachelor's thesis with John Slater on energy level spacings in the multiple structure of transition metal atoms; graduate education at Urbana, Illinois, first paper under John Bardeen on the problem of transport of electrons bound to surfaces in semiconductors (Bardeen, David Pines); doctoral thesis on superconductivity, theoretical issues relevant to it; Leon Cooper's contributions, field theory, the bound state; Bardeen wins the Nobel Prize, emotional letdowns related to slow results of research; Stevens Conference on the many-body problem and American Physical Society Meeting, 1957; application of the Tomonaga variational technique, work on it with Cooper and Bardeen, problems with the second order phase transition, Bardeen's solution of the wave function; refinements of the new theory of superconductivity; feelings about working with Bardeen and Cooper; reactions of the scientific community to the new theory (Niels Bohr, Norman Ramsey); views on scientific creativity; the square dance analogy of the B-C-S theory; the Nobel Prize, 1972; American and Soviet competition for solution of superconductivity; objections to the theory based on gauge invariance properties; aftermath of discovery and Nobel Prize. Also prominently mentioned are: Jane Bardeen, John Bardeen, Nikolay N. Bogoliubov, Bohr family, Keith Allan Brueckner, Eli Burstein, Butler, Leon Cooper, Richard Phillips Feynman, Dave Frisch, Frölich, Ernest Guillemin, Douglas Rayner Hartree, Werner Heisenberg, David Hilbert, George F. Koster, Fritz London, Francis Eugene Low, Arkadii Beinusovich Migdal, David Pines, Léon Rosenfeld, Blat Schatloff, Ann Schrieffer, Frederick Seitz, Charles Slichter, Gregor Wentzel; Institute for Theoretical Physics (Copenhagen), and Niels Bohr Institutet.

Interviewed by
Joan Bromberg
Interview date
Location
Stanford University
Abstract

Early family life and early education in Toronto during the Depression. Interest in radio engineering; math-physics scholarship to University of Toronto 1937. During World War II (from 1941) teaching Army, Air Force, Navy students in basic physics. Masters degree with Arnold Pitt during that period. Work with G. Byers on microwave guide antennas. Poor graduate education at Toronto. Interest in nuclear physics; constructs atomic beam light source; 'his definition of a diatomic molecule. Receives Carbide and Carbon Chemicals Corporation post-doc fellowship (Rabi); work with C. Townes at Columbia University on application of microwave spectroscopy to organic chemistry; comments on faculty and co-workers at Columbia. To Bell Labs to work on superconductivity in Stan Morgan's group in early 1950's. Work with Lewis and Matthias on the intermediate state nuclear quadrupole resonance. The Clad Rob Laser; work atmosphere at Bell Labs; decision to leave Bell for Stanford. Works with graduate students; Emmett, Holzrichter on flashlamps; solid state spectroscopy. Role in Optical Society of America and American Physical Society.

Interviewed by
Katherine Sopka
Interview date
Location
Lyman Laboratory of Physics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Abstract

Early life in Illinois; B.S. from Purdue University under Karl Lark-Horovitz, 1929-1933. Visit to Technische Hochschule in Karlsruhe. Theoretical and experimental work and teaching at Harvard University, 1934-1941, under Emory L. Chaffee, Kenneth T. Bainbridge, John Van Vleck. World War II research on radar at MIT Radiation Laboratory, 1941-1946. Return to Harvard; teaching, nuclear magnetic resonance and 21-cm line research. Discusses government consulting work, 1950-1970, especially President's Science Advisory Committee, American Physical Society presidency; teaching at Harvard. Interests in astrophysics, developing physics curricula. Also prominently mentioned are: Kenneth Tompkins Bainbridge, Felix Bloch, Bobby Cutler, Robert Henry Dicke, Edwards, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Harold Ewen, Ferry, William Francis Giauque, William Webster Hansen, Malcolm Hebb, Ted Hunt, Lyndon B. Johnson, Fritz Leonhart, Dunlap McNair, Otto Oldenburg, Jan Hendrik Oort, Wolfgang Pauli, Robert V. Pound, Isidor Isaac Rabi, Norman Foster Ramsey, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Schnabel, Julian R. Schwinger, Francis Eugene Simon, Charles Steinmetz, Henry Torrey, Hendrik Christoffell van de Hulst, John Von Neumann, Isidor Walerstein, Walter Witzel, Hubert J. Yearian, Jerrold Reinach Zacharias; Bell System Technical Journal, Great Britain Royal Air Force Coastal Command, Radio Research Laboratory, Illinois Southeastern Telephone Co., Killian Committee, Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, National Academy of Sciences, Rijksuniversiteit te Leiden, Unitarian Church, United States Office of Naval Research, University of California at Berkeley, and Voice of America.

Interviewed by
Katherine Sopka
Interview date
Location
Lyman Laboratory of Physics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Abstract

Early life in Illinois; B.S. from Purdue University under Karl Lark-Horovitz, 1929-1933. Visit to Technische Hochschule in Karlsruhe. Theoretical and experimental work and teaching at Harvard University, 1934-1941, under Emory L. Chaffee, Kenneth T. Bainbridge, John Van Vleck. World War II research on radar at MIT Radiation Laboratory, 1941-1946. Return to Harvard; teaching, nuclear magnetic resonance and 21-cm line research. Discusses government consulting work, 1950-1970, especially President's Science Advisory Committee, American Physical Society presidency; teaching at Harvard. Interests in astrophysics, developing physics curricula. Also prominently mentioned are: Kenneth Tompkins Bainbridge, Felix Bloch, Bobby Cutler, Robert Henry Dicke, Edwards, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Harold Ewen, Ferry, William Francis Giauque, William Webster Hansen, Malcolm Hebb, Ted Hunt, Lyndon B. Johnson, Fritz Leonhart, Dunlap McNair, Otto Oldenburg, Jan Hendrik Oort, Wolfgang Pauli, Robert V. Pound, Isidor Isaac Rabi, Norman Foster Ramsey, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Schnabel, Julian R. Schwinger, Francis Eugene Simon, Charles Steinmetz, Henry Torrey, Hendrik Christoffell van de Hulst, John Von Neumann, Isidor Walerstein, Walter Witzel, Hubert J. Yearian, Jerrold Reinach Zacharias; Bell System Technical Journal, Great Britain Royal Air Force Coastal Command, Radio Research Laboratory, Illinois Southeastern Telephone Co., Killian Committee, Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, National Academy of Sciences, Rijksuniversiteit te Leiden, Unitarian Church, United States Office of Naval Research, University of California at Berkeley, and Voice of America.

Interviewed by
Ronald Doel
Interview date
Location
American Physical Society, New York City, New York
Abstract

Topics include his youth and education; his Ph.D. work at Columbia University; building the Nevis cyclotron; nuclear fission; the United Nations Nuclear Cross-section Committee; his appointment as Secretary to the American Physical Society; recollections of Karl Darrow;  Physical Review; Physical Review Letters;  various divisions of the American Physical Society; Committee on the Future of Nuclear Physics; his consulting work with Los Alamos in 1962; schism of APS membership over military patronage and Viet Nam War; the changing role of the American Institute of Physics; impressions of William Koch; recollections of Goudsmit retirement as Physical Review editor; his appointment as Professor of Applied Physics and Engineering at Columbia University in 1978; APS involvement in the Star Wars Project; impressions of collaborations in high-energy physics; personal impressions of the role of physics in society.  Prominently mentioned names include:  Karl Darrow, John Dunning, Maurice Ewing, Enrico Fermi, James Fletcher, William Koch, Willis Lamb, George Pegram, Frank Press, Shirley Quimby, I.I. Rabi, James Rainwater, Emilio Segre, Charles Schwartz,  Henry Smyth, Edward Teller, Harold Urey, Hermann Weyl, John Wheeler, Herbert York,  Also the American Physical Society, American Institute of Physics, Columbia University, American Association of Physics Teachers.

Interviewed by
Ronald Doel
Interview date
Location
American Physical Society, New York City, New York
Abstract

Topics include his youth and education; his Ph.D. work at Columbia University; building the Nevis cyclotron; nuclear fission; the United Nations Nuclear Cross-section Committee; his appointment as Secretary to the American Physical Society; recollections of Karl Darrow;  Physical Review; Physical Review Letters;  various divisions of the American Physical Society; Committee on the Future of Nuclear Physics; his consulting work with Los Alamos in 1962; schism of APS membership over military patronage and Viet Nam War; the changing role of the American Institute of Physics; impressions of William Koch; recollections of Goudsmit retirement as Physical Review editor; his appointment as Professor of Applied Physics and Engineering at Columbia University in 1978; APS involvement in the Star Wars Project; impressions of collaborations in high-energy physics; personal impressions of the role of physics in society.  Prominently mentioned names include:  Karl Darrow, John Dunning, Maurice Ewing, Enrico Fermi, James Fletcher, William Koch, Willis Lamb, George Pegram, Frank Press, Shirley Quimby, I.I. Rabi, James Rainwater, Emilio Segre, Charles Schwartz,  Henry Smyth, Edward Teller, Harold Urey, Hermann Weyl, John Wheeler, Herbert York,  Also the American Physical Society, American Institute of Physics, Columbia University, American Association of Physics Teachers.

Interviewed by
Ronald Doel
Interview date
Location
American Physical Society, New York City, New York
Abstract

Topics include his youth and education; his Ph.D. work at Columbia University; building the Nevis cyclotron; nuclear fission; the United Nations Nuclear Cross-section Committee; his appointment as Secretary to the American Physical Society; recollections of Karl Darrow;  Physical Review; Physical Review Letters;  various divisions of the American Physical Society; Committee on the Future of Nuclear Physics; his consulting work with Los Alamos in 1962; schism of APS membership over military patronage and Viet Nam War; the changing role of the American Institute of Physics; impressions of William Koch; recollections of Goudsmit retirement as Physical Review editor; his appointment as Professor of Applied Physics and Engineering at Columbia University in 1978; APS involvement in the Star Wars Project; impressions of collaborations in high-energy physics; personal impressions of the role of physics in society.  Prominently mentioned names include:  Karl Darrow, John Dunning, Maurice Ewing, Enrico Fermi, James Fletcher, William Koch, Willis Lamb, George Pegram, Frank Press, Shirley Quimby, I.I. Rabi, James Rainwater, Emilio Segre, Charles Schwartz,  Henry Smyth, Edward Teller, Harold Urey, Hermann Weyl, John Wheeler, Herbert York,  Also the American Physical Society, American Institute of Physics, Columbia University, American Association of Physics Teachers.

Interviewed by
Ronald Doel
Interview date
Location
American Physical Society, New York City, New York
Abstract

Topics include his youth and education; his Ph.D. work at Columbia University; building the Nevis cyclotron; nuclear fission; the United Nations Nuclear Cross-section Committee; his appointment as Secretary to the American Physical Society; recollections of Karl Darrow;  Physical Review; Physical Review Letters;  various divisions of the American Physical Society; Committee on the Future of Nuclear Physics; his consulting work with Los Alamos in 1962; schism of APS membership over military patronage and Viet Nam War; the changing role of the American Institute of Physics; impressions of William Koch; recollections of Goudsmit retirement as Physical Review editor; his appointment as Professor of Applied Physics and Engineering at Columbia University in 1978; APS involvement in the Star Wars Project; impressions of collaborations in high-energy physics; personal impressions of the role of physics in society.  Prominently mentioned names include:  Karl Darrow, John Dunning, Maurice Ewing, Enrico Fermi, James Fletcher, William Koch, Willis Lamb, George Pegram, Frank Press, Shirley Quimby, I.I. Rabi, James Rainwater, Emilio Segre, Charles Schwartz,  Henry Smyth, Edward Teller, Harold Urey, Hermann Weyl, John Wheeler, Herbert York,  Also the American Physical Society, American Institute of Physics, Columbia University, American Association of Physics Teachers.