Cavendish Laboratory (Cambridge, England)

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Richard Leapman, Senior Investigator in the National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and Scientific Director of the intramural program. Leapman recounts his childhood in England and he describes his early and formative experience playing with an optical microscope. He describes his undergraduate work at Peterhouse College of Cambridge University and the influence of Aaron Klug in his physics education. Leapman explains his decision to remain at Cambridge for his Ph.D., and he describes his work in the Cavendish Laboratory and Klug's suggestion that he focus on inelastic scattering of electrons in electron microscopes to perform elemental microanalysis. He discusses his postdoctoral work at Oxford and the opportunity leading to his research at Cornell in the School of Applied Engineering Physics. Leapman explains his attraction to join the NIH upon learning that he would have access to an electron microscope and could work on electron energy-loss spectroscopy. He describes some of the biological implications of this work, including the ability to look at cells to detect elemental distributions inside subcellular organelles. Leapman discusses his many collaborations across the Institutes at the NIH and the development of NMR spectroscopy, and he describes the partnership between NIH and NIST that ensured his access to cutting-edge technology over the course of his career. He describes various aspects of his research that have direct clinical value to treating a variety of ailments, including asbestos exposure to coronavirus. Leapman describes his work at the chief of electron beam imaging and micro-spectroscopy and the numerous collaborations he has pursued beyond the NIH at both National Labs and university labs. He discusses some recent advances in his field, including new abilities to determine the 3D structure of proteins, and he explains his administrative duties as Scientific Director of the Institute. At the end of the interview, Leapman describes how the study of electrons has connected all of his research, and he discusses some of the challenges and opportunities he has confronted in his career as a physicist operating in a biologically-focused research environment.

Interviewed by
Charles Weiner
Interview date
Location
Professor Occhialini's apartment
Abstract

Topics discussed include: Bruno Rossi, Gilberto Bernardini, Ettore Majorana, radioactivity, Antonio Lo Surdo, Antonio Garbasso, Lise Meitner, Ernest Rutherford, C. T. R. Wilson, John Cockcroft, P. M. S. Blackett, Gleb Wataghin, Gian Carlo Wick, Franco Rasetti, Enrico Persico, Dirac's theory, nuclear physics, Emilio Segre, cosmic rays, James Chadwick, Cambridge University, Shimizu, George Gamow, Frederic Joliot, Cavendish laboratory, P. L. Kapitsa, Hans Geiger, Maurice Goldhaber, Victor Weisskopf, David Frisch, Ehrenburg, Carl Anderson, Guglielmo Marconi, Louis de Broglie, P. A. M. Dirac, fellowship from National Council of Research, Arthur Holly Compton, Surgio de Benedetti, Giulio Racah, Sergei Vavilov, University at Sao Paolo, William Bragg, Cecil Powell, sigma star, and pi-meson decay.

Interviewed by
Charles Weiner
Interview date
Location
Professor Occhialini's apartment
Abstract

Topics discussed include: Bruno Rossi, Gilberto Bernardini, Ettore Majorana, radioactivity, Antonio Lo Surdo, Antonio Garbasso, Lise Meitner, Ernest Rutherford, C. T. R. Wilson, John Cockcroft, P. M. S. Blackett, Gleb Wataghin, Gian Carlo Wick, Franco Rasetti, Enrico Persico, Dirac's theory, nuclear physics, Emilio Segre, cosmic rays, James Chadwick, Cambridge University, Shimizu, George Gamow, Frederic Joliot, Cavendish laboratory, P. L. Kapitsa, Hans Geiger, Maurice Goldhaber, Victor Weisskopf, David Frisch, Ehrenburg, Carl Anderson, Guglielmo Marconi, Louis de Broglie, P. A. M. Dirac, fellowship from National Council of Research, Arthur Holly Compton, Surgio de Benedetti, Giulio Racah, Sergei Vavilov, University at Sao Paolo, William Bragg, Cecil Powell, sigma star, and pi-meson decay.

Interviewed by
Charles Weiner
Interview date
Location
Professor Occhialini's apartment
Abstract

Topics discussed include: Bruno Rossi, Gilberto Bernardini, Ettore Majorana, radioactivity, Antonio Lo Surdo, Antonio Garbasso, Lise Meitner, Ernest Rutherford, C. T. R. Wilson, John Cockcroft, P. M. S. Blackett, Gleb Wataghin, Gian Carlo Wick, Franco Rasetti, Enrico Persico, Dirac's theory, nuclear physics, Emilio Segre, cosmic rays, James Chadwick, Cambridge University, Shimizu, George Gamow, Frederic Joliot, Cavendish laboratory, P. L. Kapitsa, Hans Geiger, Maurice Goldhaber, Victor Weisskopf, David Frisch, Ehrenburg, Carl Anderson, Guglielmo Marconi, Louis de Broglie, P. A. M. Dirac, fellowship from National Council of Research, Arthur Holly Compton, Surgio de Benedetti, Giulio Racah, Sergei Vavilov, University at Sao Paolo, William Bragg, Cecil Powell, sigma star, and pi-meson decay.

Interviewed by
Charles Weiner
Interview date
Location
Professor Occhialini's apartment
Abstract

Topics discussed include: Bruno Rossi, Gilberto Bernardini, Ettore Majorana, radioactivity, Antonio Lo Surdo, Antonio Garbasso, Lise Meitner, Ernest Rutherford, C. T. R. Wilson, John Cockcroft, P. M. S. Blackett, Gleb Wataghin, Gian Carlo Wick, Franco Rasetti, Enrico Persico, Dirac's theory, nuclear physics, Emilio Segre, cosmic rays, James Chadwick, Cambridge University, Shimizu, George Gamow, Frederic Joliot, Cavendish laboratory, P. L. Kapitsa, Hans Geiger, Maurice Goldhaber, Victor Weisskopf, David Frisch, Ehrenburg, Carl Anderson, Guglielmo Marconi, Louis de Broglie, P. A. M. Dirac, fellowship from National Council of Research, Arthur Holly Compton, Surgio de Benedetti, Giulio Racah, Sergei Vavilov, University at Sao Paolo, William Bragg, Cecil Powell, sigma star, and pi-meson decay.

Interviewed by
Charles Weiner
Interview date
Location
Professor Occhialini's office
Abstract

Topics discussed include: Bruno Rossi, Gilberto Bernardini, Ettore Majorana, radioactivity, Antonio Lo Surdo, Antonio Garbasso, Lise Meitner, Ernest Rutherford, C. T. R. Wilson, John Cockcroft, P. M. S. Blackett, Gleb Wataghin, Gian Carlo Wick, Franco Rasetti, Enrico Persico, Dirac's theory, nuclear physics, Emilio Segre, cosmic rays, James Chadwick, Cambridge University, Shimizu, George Gamow, Frederic Joliot, Cavendish laboratory, P. L. Kapitsa, Hans Geiger, Maurice Goldhaber, Victor Weisskopf, David Frisch, Ehrenburg, Carl Anderson, Guglielmo Marconi, Louis de Broglie, P. A. M. Dirac, fellowship from National Council of Research, Arthur Holly Compton, Surgio de Benedetti, Giulio Racah, Sergei Vavilov, University at Sao Paolo, William Bragg, Cecil Powell, sigma star, and pi-meson decay.

Interviewed by
Charles Weiner
Location
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Abstract

Born in Russia 1905, childhood in Japan; early education in Japan and in Shanghai; undergraduate and graduate studies at University of Berlin from 1922; protactinium work with Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner 1926-1927. Moves to the U.S. (Universal Oil Products Corp.); comments on Vladimir Ipatief; travels to Europe (Cavendish Laboratory, the Curie Institute in Paris, and Berlin); Columbia University from 1939, dismissal from the Manhattan Project; president of the Research Institute at Temple University for 13 years (later affiliate of the Franklin Institute); desert agriculture. Also prominently mentioned are: M. S. Agruss, Francis William Aston, Niels Henrik David Bohr, Eugene Booth, James Chadwick, Arthur Holly Compton, Marie Sklodowska Curie, John R. Dunning, Gustav Egloff, Albert Einstein, Robley Dunglison Evans, Enrico Fermi, George Gamow, Hiram Halle, William D. Harkins, Georg von Hevesy, Karl Hoffman, Eugene Houdry, Lyndon B. Johnson, Frédéric Joliot-Curie, Irene Joliot-Curie, Petr Kapitsa, Robert Andrews Millikan, Alfred O. Nier, Ida Noddack, George Braxton Pegram, Isidor Isaac Rabi, Ernest Rutherford, Frederick Soddy, Fritz Strassman, Leo Szilard, Joseph John Thomson, Harold Clayton Urey, John Archibald Wheeler; Atomic Energy Commission, Basic Science Foundation, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, Technische Hochschule (Berlin), Universal Oil Production Corporation, and University of Chicago.

Interviewed by
Charles Weiner
Interview date
Location
James Clerk Maxwell Physics Building, Edinburgh, Scotland
Abstract

Undergraduate atmosphere at University of Cambridge: course work, lecturers, extra-curricular groups, training experiments in radioactivity and scintillation-counting; obtains old radon tubes for neutron experiments while doing radioactivity work with Robert W. Woods at Johns Hopkins University in 1929; discussions with James Chadwick of Joliot papers, 1932; move with Chadwick to University of Liverpool, 1935; return to University of Cambridge 1936; reaction to selection of William Bragg as Ernest Rutherford's successor; shift in Cavendish Laboratory's world role in nuclear physics; World War II service at Cambridge: administration, teaching, measurement of fission cross-sections; move to University of Edinburgh to replace Charles D. Barkla, 1945.

Interviewed by
Charles Weiner
Interview date
Location
James Clerk Maxwell Physics Building, Edinburgh, Scotland
Abstract

Undergraduate atmosphere at University of Cambridge: course work, lecturers, extra-curricular groups, training experiments in radioactivity and scintillation-counting; obtains old radon tubes for neutron experiments while doing radioactivity work with Robert W. Woods at Johns Hopkins University in 1929; discussions with James Chadwick of Joliot papers, 1932; move with Chadwick to University of Liverpool, 1935; return to University of Cambridge 1936; reaction to selection of William Bragg as Ernest Rutherford's successor; shift in Cavendish Laboratory's world role in nuclear physics; World War II service at Cambridge: administration, teaching, measurement of fission cross-sections; move to University of Edinburgh to replace Charles D. Barkla, 1945.

Interviewed by
Charles Weiner
Interview date
Location
New Milford, Connecticut