Purdue University

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Wick Haxton, professor of physics at UC Berkeley. Haxton recounts his childhood in Santa Cruz and his early interests in math and science. He describes his undergraduate education at the newly created UC Santa Cruz where his initial interest was in mathematics before he was given the advice that he did “mathematics like a physicist.” Haxton discusses his graduate work at Stanford where his original intent was to study general relativity before he connected with Dirk Walecka and Bill Donnelly to focus on nuclear theory and dense nuclear matter. He discusses his postdoctoral research at the University of Mainz where he concentrated on photo-pion physics during the early days of chiral perturbation theory, and he explains the opportunities that led to his next appointment at the LAMPF facility at Los Alamos. Haxton emphasizes the excellence of both his colleagues and the computational capacity at the Lab, and he describes his faculty appointment at Purdue and the solar neutrino experiment he contributed to in Colorado. He explains the opportunities that led to him joining the faculty at the University of Washington where the DOE was about to fund the Institute for Nuclear Theory. Haxton explains the “breakup” between nuclear theory and particle theory and how the INT addressed that. Haxton discusses the opportunities afforded at the INT to engage in nuclear astrophysics and he explains the rise and fall of the Homestake DUSEL project. He explains his decision to go emeritus at UW and to join the faculty at UC Berkeley and to be dual hatted at the Berkeley Lab, and he describes his tenure as department chair. At the end of the interview, Haxton describes his current work organizing the new Physics Frontier Center and the challenges presented by the pandemic, and he credits his formative time as Los Alamos for the diverse research agenda he has pursued throughout his career.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Katherine Harkay, Senior Scientist at the Advanced Proton Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory. Harkay describes the APS upgrade and how the APS informs her broader views about the interplay of theory and experiment in accelerator physics. She recounts her childhood in New York City, the import of her Hungarian heritage, and her early interests in science. Harkay describes her undergraduate work at St. John’s and her attractions to experimental physics before entering the PhD program at Purdue. She describes her work at Fermilab and the opportunities that led to her work with Yanglai Cho at Argonne and the origins of the APS.  Harkay explains the broad range of experiments done at the APS and she describes the investigation of high-intensity limits and the safety considerations that ensure its proper operation. She discusses her work on cathode research and development and she explains the administrative responsibilities she took on after being named accelerator physics group leader. Harkay surveys Argonne’s efforts to bring more women into leadership positions and the broader value of a diversity of perspectives in science. At the end of the interview, Harkay emphasizes the importance of public outreach, and she cites the value of the APS’s value in X-ray imaging of the SARS-CoV-2 protein to exemplify the point.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

David Wenner is a retired businessman and consultant who curated the rare physics manuscript library that would eventually become the Wenner Collection at the Niels Bohr Library. In this interview, Wenner recounts his childhood in Florida and describes his early interests in sports and academics. He describes his interest in pursuing a liberal arts education as an undergraduate at Yale, and he discusses his graduate work in computer science at Purdue. Wenner discusses his professional experiences at Texas Instruments and his long career in consulting at McKinsey & Company. He explains how he became involved with the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at UC Santa Barbara and how an interest in reading physics books grew into a full time pursuit curating what would become a singular library of rare physics manuscripts. Wenner describes how he built the collection and the various considerations that led to him deciding to work with AIP and to create the Wenner Collection. He describes the process that went into his book History of Physics, and he discusses his current interest collecting manuscripts relating to climate change. At the end of the interview, Wenner reflects on ongoing questions raised by cosmology and quantum theory.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
video conference
Abstract

Marcela Carena, Distinguished Scientist and head of the Theory Division at Fermilab, is interviewed by David Zierler. Carena describes her dual position as professor of physics and member of the Fermi and Kavli Institutes at the University of Chicago and she surveys the many areas of Higgs physics in which she is currently working. She recounts her family’s Italian and Spanish heritage and her upbringing in Buenos Aires and the opportunities she pursued as she became interested in science. Carena describes her undergraduate education at Instituto Balseiro where she developed an appreciation for the interplay of theory and experimental high energy physics. She explains her decision to remain for graduate school where she worked with Roberto Peccei and she describes her research at DESY in Germany and her focus on supersymmetry and sphalerons. Marcela describes the importance of meeting Bill Bardeen during her postdoctoral appointment at Purdue and her subsequent research at the Max Planck Institute where she was focused on the LEP collider at CERN. She explains her decision to move to CERN full time and she conveys the impact of the SSC cancellation from the vantage point of CERN. Carena describes the opportunities that led to her staff position at Fermilab where she continued to develop her interests in supersymmetry and Higgs physics. She conveys the impact of the shutdown of the Tevatron and she describes the emotional component of the discovery of the Higgs. Carena explains why her focus on dark matter and electroweak baryogenesis are natural extensions from the Higgs discovery, and she wonders what it will look like if and when we come to understand what dark matter is. She reflects on what has, and has not, been seen at the LHC over the past decade, and she discusses both the scientific and political value in Fermilab supporting an International Relations Directorate. At the end of the interview, Carena describes her recent interests in quantum information and why quantum computers may yield new insights on the early universe, she conveys her pride in Fermilab’s leading efforts to promote diversity and inclusivity in science, and she explains why there is cause for optimism in the quest to understand dark matter. 

 

Interviewed by
Charles Weiner and Barry Richman
Interview date
Location
Segrè's home, Lafayette, California
Abstract

Founding of the school of physics, Università di Roma, role of Orso Mario Corbino and others in recruiting young physicists; the decision to work on nuclear physics; financial support for and public knowledge of work at the university; contacts with other laboratories in Europe and the U.S.; available technology in Rome, ca. 1930; journal literature; visitors to Rome; circumstances of move to Università di Palermo, 1936; work and facilities in Palermo; early failures of physicists to recognize fission; early uses of cyclotron; mathematics and nuclear physics in 1930s; models of the nucleus and experimental work; circumstances of move to University of California at Berkeley, 1938; experiment and theory in nuclear physics at Berkeley; work on radiochemistry; alteration of half-lives of beta-radioactive substances; detection equipment; effect of work at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory on nuclear physics; significance of nucleon-nucleon scattering experiments; entry into nuclear physics of students trained in technology during World War II; beginnings of high-energy physics; experimental physics and particle accelerators; fashions in physics; discovery of the antiproton; work considered personally satisfying. Also prominently mentioned are: Edoardo Amaldi, Felix Bloch, Niels Henrik David Bohr, Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac, Michael Faraday, Otto Robert Frisch, Guglielmo, Georg von Hevesy, Ernest Orlando Lawrence, Tullio Levi-Cività, Lo Surdo, Ettore Majorana, Lise Meitner, Ida Noddack, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Carlo Perrier, Franco D. Rasetti, Ernest Rutherford, Glenn Seaborg, Elfriede Segrè, V. Volterra, Chien-Shiung Wu, Hideki Yukawa; Columbia University, and Purdue University.

Interviewed by
Paul Henriksen
Interview date
Abstract

Work at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Radiation Laboratory. Significant contributions to solid state physics. The interview deals briefly with Purcell's early acquaintance with Karl Lark-Horovitz at Purdue, while Purcell was an undergraduate electrical engineering major there. The bulk of the interview concerns Purcell's work at the MIT Rad Lab during World War II: how he started working there in 1940, his work with the magnetron group, the problems with the transmit receive switch, theory vs. experiment at the Rad Lab, the Steering Committee, work with the propagation group, the 1.25 cm radar fiasco, design of permanent magnets, postwar applications of Rad Lab research, and relations with British engineers. Purcell then discusses the influence of the Rad Lab on his subsequent career, his work with R. V. Pound, and H. C. Torrey at Harvard on NMR and the 21 cm line of hydrogen, and postwar uses of microwaves for physics research.

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
Joan Bromberg
Interview date
Location
University of California
Abstract

This short interview touches briefly on Erwin Hahn's education at Juniata College, Purdue University, and the University of Illinois; initial interest in nuclear magnetic resonance; his postdoctoral years with Felix Bloch's group at Stanford University; and his three years as a research scientist with IBM. Hahn also comments briefly on his consultantship with Hughes' maser group; his work on self-induced transparency; and his collaboration with Richard Brewer at IBM. Also prominently mentioned are: Sam Bass, Jesse Wakefield Beams, Felix Bloch, Nicolaas Bloembergen, Richard Brewer, John Clarke, Gene Commins, Harry Daghalian, Robert Henry Dicke, Gordon Gould, Donald W. Kerst, Theodore Maiman, Sam McCall, Mitsunaga, Arthur Leonard Schawlow, Norman Shiren, Charles Slichter, Dick Slusher, Russell Harrison Varian; Bell Telephone Laboratories, Columbia University, IBM Watson Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory, National Science Foundation (U.S.), United States Navy, and University of Virginia.

Interviewed by
Lillian Hoddeson
Interview date
Location
Purdue University
Abstract

Recollection of the work done on semiconductors at Purdue University after World War II. Major topics include Fan's education at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his recollections of the Purdue physics department in the 1940s, and work on semiconductors at Purdue in the 1940s. Also prominently mentioned are: Ralph Bray, Karl Lark-Horovitz, A. H. Wilson; Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Radiation Laboratory.