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.
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.
Biographical profile of the theoretical astrophysicist and aeronomist Alexander Dalgarno, centering on his professional life at the Center for Astrophysics. Early life and training in London. Schooling and entrance to University College, London. Recollections of wartime life in London and Aberdeen. College years and experiences as a student. Development of interest in mathematics. Friends, colleagues and teachers at college. Graduation in 1948 and contact with Harrie Massey which led him into physics. Research under Richard Buckingham on applications of quantum theory to problems in physics. Exposure to experimental physics and problems in geophysics. Contact with David Bates, Massey and Sydney Chapman. Move to Belfast to work with Bates on problems of aeronomy. Development of research themes at Belfast and conferences on upper atmospheric physics and how it changed from remote sensing to in situ observations. Continued discussion of the development of his research interests. Non-LTE studies. Summer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 1954 and contact with Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratory (AFCRL) upper atmosphere researchers. Appointment to Harvard-Smithsonian 1967. Students, postdocs and colleagues: Donald Menzel, Leo Goldberg. Refelections on relationship between Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) and Harvard College Observatory (HCO) in the late 1960s. United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) SAO audit, 1971 and the Greenstein Visiting Committee. Goldberg's resignation and Whipple's retirement from the SAO directorship. Restructuring the observatory. The issue of shared teaching loads between staffs of SAO and HCO. Dalgarno becomes acting director of the reorganized observatory, to be called the Center for Astrophysics, recollections of how and why he was chosen. His views on the controversy and the changing profile of astronomy at Harvard in the early 1970s. Searching for and naming the new director. Finding George Field and the creation of the Center for Astrophysics. Models considered for the new organization. Combining directorships and keeping the Chair of the department distinct. Relations with the National Science Foundation (NSF). Views on the reorganization and its divisions and assumption of the associate directorship of the theoretical astrophysics division. The Field years, 1970-1980. Festschrifts for Dalgarno.
This interview with A. G. W. Cameron focuses on selected aspects of Cameron's research including nucleosynthesis and use of computers in research. Covers Cameron's different topics of research as well as various institutional appointments. Also comments on style of research and William Fowler's receipt of Nobel prize. Other topics discussed include: his family background and childhood, graduate work at the University of Saskatchewan, Leon Katz, photonuclear reactions, astrophysics, Paul Merrill, galactic evolution, Iowa State teaching nuclear physics, Chalk River, advising work for Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and Department of Energy (DOE), hydrogen bomb, origin of the moon, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Stirling Colgate, nuclear astrophysics, teaching at Yale University, big bang theory, Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Fred Whipple, Leo Goldberg, Hans Suess, Harold Urey, William Fowler, Fred Hoyle, Geoffrey Burbidge, California Institute of Technology, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Dr. Eugene Avrett (1933 - ) is an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. This interview reviews his personal and professional life and was conducted as part of a study of the history of the SAO during the tenure of Fred Whipple, 1955-1972. The interview covers his family life in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, public schooling and development of interests, influential teachers, and matriculation at Georgia Tech in electrical engineering in 1952. Facility in conceptual subjects like physics, but no special interests. Knowledge of WWII. Summer employment at Glenn L. Martin Aircraft on Matador program. Decision to switch to physics. Graduation in 1957 and entrance to Harvard for graduate study in physics. Advisors included Gerald Holton, Max Krook, George Carrier. Growth of interest in astrophysics slow, due to Krook and exposure to, first research in, and publications in stellar atmospheres. Teaching assistant for Bill Liller. Thesis with Max Krook. Collaboration with Owen Gingerich. Marriage in 1961 to Judith Reno Brett. Ph.D. in 1962, conferences attended that solidified his interests in stellar atmospheres and spectral line formation and non-LTE processes. Hired by Charles Whitney into the “Stellar Theory Division” at SAO. Organization of SAO under Whipple and his managers, including Harris Rosenthal, Charles Lundquist and Paul Tillinghast. Impressions of joint program between Harvard and Smithsonian. Teaching activities. Backup theoretical group for Celescope; extended discussion of Celescope, calibration issues, and the challenge of analyzing the data and the production of the catalogue of UV stellar colors. Nature of the data, methods of post-hoc calibration of the fields. Continued refinement of stellar atmospheres techniques and changing state of knowledge of theoretical energy distributions mitigate value of Celescope data. Role of Celescope staff, mainly Robert Davis, in the processing. History of OAO program; failed launches. Nancy Roman’s role in OAO and suggestion to close down Celescope. Work with student Steve Strom to prepare for Celescope reductions. NASA conference on OAO results. Relations between HCO and SAO and between Leon Goldberg and Fred Whipple. Teaching and thesis direction by SAO staff. Strom and early development of optical astronomy at SAO -- the MMT. SAO collaboration with Arizona rather than with Harvard. Use of OSO data for solar atmospheres research. Layoffs at SAO, deteriorating relations between Harvard and SAO and the formation of the Center for Astrophysics.