Berkeley Radiation Laboratory; Laurence Livermore National Laboratory; Manhattan Project; classification and declassification issues; use of computers; reminiscences about colleagues, including Edward Teller, Norris Bradbury, Howard Morland, Keith Brueckner, John von Neumann, Stirling Colgate.
Laser work at Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratory (AFCRL) (Rudolph Bradbury); early work on ruby lasers (Charles H. Townes, John Howard); Department of Defense (DOD) high-energy laser program; Steve Harris and Anthony DeMaria; optical masers and phased array lasers; CO2 laser at Avco-Everett; reform of service laboratories (Peter Schweitzer), 1960s; laser color centers and pump light attenuation (application to rangefinders); interaction with Office of Naval Research; spinoffs of laser research. Laser damage studies at AFCRL (q-switching); instigated by Peter Avizonis and Art Guenther; Raman light (R. K. Chang), development of Optical Parametric Oscillators; simulated Brillouin scattering (George Wolga); tunable laser work (Tony Siegman, Steve Harris); Avco Gas Dynamic Laser (GDL); Erlan Bliss and Dave Milam; Stickley replaced by Howard Schlossberg; dispersion of laser damage group; transfer of laser glass and damage experience to DOE—Livermore. Stickley moves to Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); Glenn Sherwood, Maurice Sinnot, Ed Gerry, David Mann, Steve Lukasik; Laser Window Program; DARPA interdisciplinary materials science program; Chemical Laser Damage Program (J. A. Harrington). Joins the Department of Energy (DOE) and its laser fusion program; politics and recruitment; Lawrence Livermore Laboratory vs. Los Alamos National Laboratory; DOD vs. DOE laboratories. The Strategic Defense Initiative; Stickley moves to Battelle Memorial Institute.
In this interview, John Foster discusses the impact of the JASON Group. Topics discussed include: Foster's father, John Stuart Foster; Lawrence Livermore Laboratory; serving as Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E); Charlie Townes; Defense Science Board; Robert McNamara; Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); Marvin "Murph" Goldberger; Institute for Defense Analyses.
Boyer, former head of the laser division at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, discusses the origins of the Los Alamos Laser Program, the influence of Air Force Weapons Laboratory (AFWL) High-energy Laser Program on his own program, the connection with his earlier nuclear rocket propulsion studies; Abraham Hertzberg’s proposal of the gas-dynamic laser concept and his visit to Los Alamos to discuss laser function. Los Alamos’s growing interest in laser fusion in the 1960s, their awareness of Ray Kidder’s work at Livermore, the three-pronged approach to laser fusion taken at Los Alamos, the development of interest in chemical lasers with AFWL support; in glass lasers; carbon dioxide laser fusion work; development of the electron-beam CO2 laser and patent dispute with AVCO; the Division of Military Application interest in isotope separation and weapons simulation; comparison with the Livermore program; molecular isotope separation program at Los Alamos vs. Livermore and Exxon Nuclear exploration of the atomic vapor process; influence of Basov & Aleksandr Prokhorov’s work and others on Boyer’s group; technical problems of compressing thermonuclear fuel; electron attachment instability; problem of the wavelength effect; computer codes and modeling; laser fusion target design; laser system designs; frequency conversion work for isotope separation; large CO2 lasers at Los Alamos; self-oscillation and target reflection problems in them; resonator optics of large CO2 laser; Helios Design; Antares design; Boyer’s High Energy Laser Review Group participation and the contrast between Dept. of Defense and Dept. of Energy research and development policy.
Use of early computers in statistical mechanics; the development of the Monte Carlo method and his role in the invention of molecular dynamics simulation; the people involved with the Monte Carlo method at Los Alamos and his own colleagues: Edward Teller, Marshall Rosenbluth, Nick Metropolis, Stan Frankel, John G. Kirkwood, Bill Wood; work at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; difficulties with acceptance of his work within the scientific community; computer simulation versus real experiments, past and present; brief account of his personal history.