United States. Navy

Interviewed by
Michael Riordan and Steven Weiss
Interview date
Location
Washington, D. C.
Abstract

This interview is part of a series conducted during research for the book Tunnel Visions, a history of the Superconducting Super Collider project. It mainly addresses Adm. James Watkins’s experiences as Secretary of Energy in President George H. W. Bush’s administration, focusing on his perception of the value and management of the SSC project. Watkins had previously served as Chief of Naval Operations (the highest-ranking officer in the U.S. Navy) and as chair of President Ronald Reagan’s Commission on the HIV Epidemic. Watkins recounts that his earliest months as secretary were dominated by the expansion of environmental remediation at Department of Energy nuclear weapons production sites and that he regarded DOE project management capabilities as poor compared to the Defense Department. He states that he first focused on the SSC when a change in its magnet design precipitated an increase in projected cost and that he questioned whether a design change was necessary. He asserts that early SSC cost estimates were unrealistic and that international contributions should have been secured earlier. He reflects that his imposition of his own oversight structure on the project stemmed from his lack of confidence in scientists or DOE to manage large-budget projects. Watkins stresses his own high regard for the SSC and scientific research, and he recollects Bush’s personal support for the project and the difficulties encountered in maintaining congressional support and gaining support from Japan. He castigates the physical sciences community for infighting and criticizes scientists’ skills in advocating for themselves politically, pointing also to his own work on behalf of ocean scientists following his time as secretary.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Teleconference
Abstract

In this interview, Peter Nanos discusses: family background and childhood in New Hampshire; decision to study at the Naval Academy; fraternal culture at the Academy; experience as a Trident Scholar working with Ralph Goodwin; Ph.D. at Princeton as part of the Burke Program; working in Bob Dicke’s gravity group on the first large-scale measurement of the polarization of the microwave background; work on the timing of the crab nebula pulsar; thesis advisor Dave Wilkinson; getting feedback on his thesis pre-publication from Bob Wilson; working with Captain Al Skolnick on the Navy High Energy Laser Program to demonstrate the ability to down supersonic aircraft with the Mid-Infrared Chemical Laser (MIRACL); decision to stay with the Navy as an engineering duty officer (ED); various assignments as ED, including on the USS America; involvement in Operation El Dorado Canyon (1986 U.S. bombing of Libya); effects of Reagan’s increased military spending; power of nuclear deterrence in reducing worldwide war fatalities; work with and promotion to director of Naval Strategic Systems Programs (SSP); use of the first GPS; START Treaty; work with Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA); Drell commission to determine safety of the Trident II D5 missile; creation of the National Nuclear Security Administration; director position at Los Alamos; response to reports of “lost” nuclear material; explanation of laboratory shut down; position as associate director at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA); creation of R&D Enterprise at DTRA; investments in nuclear detection technology; experiences running exercises; work with the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins; and post-retirement consulting work. Toward the end of the interview, Nanos reflects on demanding technical excellence and on the value of his training and study of physics, “the liberal arts of STEM.” 

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Admiral Kirkland Donald (Ret.), U.S. Navy, and former Director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion program. Donald recounts his upbringing in North Carolina, and he discusses the heritage of military service in his family. He explains his decision to pursue a career in the Navy, and he describes his time at the Naval Academy where he focused on ocean engineering. Donald talks about his long service working in submarines and he explains his decision to enter the Nuclear Power School. He explains the work of the Naval submarines as part of the overall U.S. national defense strategy before and after the Cold War, and he recounts the series of promotions leading to him becoming Director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. Donald reflects on the development of technology over the course of his career, and at the end of the interview he shares his views on the future prospects of U.S. global leadership.

Interviewed by
Dan Ford
Interview date
Abstract

In this interview Walter Munk discusses topics such as: Richard Garwin, JASON, anti-submarine warfare, sound surveillance system (SOSUS), U.S. Navy, American Philosophical Society. Walter Munk's wife, Judith Munk, was present for the interview and occasionally talked as well.This interview is part of a collection of interviews on the life and work of Richard Garwin. To see all associated interviews, click here.

Interviewed by
Ronald Doel
Interview date
Location
Wilmington, North Carolina
Abstract

Extensive, comprehensive interview on Worzel’s scientific and professional career. Recollections of extended family and childhood in New York; father’s interest in science and literature; early interest in mechanical things; recollection of upbringing during the Great Depression; impressions of high school science courses and interests. Attends Lehigh University as undergraduate; impressions of W. Maurice Ewing as physics professor at Lehigh, early l930s, including his working style; emerging interest in photography and experience in drafting; impressions of Alvyn Vine. Detailed recollections of work as student assistant with Ewing and Vine on refraction seismology, and impressions of George P. Woollard, Richard M. Field, William Bowie, and Ewing; election to Newtonian Society [mathematics] at Lehigh; impressions of science teaching at Lehigh. Recollections of research on undersea acoustics at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Ewing’s mathematical abilities; impressions of Felix A. Vening-Meinesz and of field research. Extended recollections of summer research as undergraduate assistant for Ewing, especially involving seismic profiling and underwater photography; relation between Ewing and L. Don Leet; recollections of Hurricane of 1938 at Woods Hole and of Woods Hole machining equipment; involvement in wartime research, including acoustics studies and experience with bathythermographs; experience in equipment design and modification, including award of patents. Extended recollections of involvement in undersea photography in the early 1940s, including reaction of biologists and war-time acquisition of German cameras; impressions of Ewing’s appointment at Columbia University, and transfer of research program to Columbia, 1946; recollections of post-war research programs at Woods Hole; meets wife [Dorothy Crary]. Impressions of graduate courses in geology and geophysics at Columbia, including seminars taught by Walter Bucher, Marshall Kay, and Ewing; extended recollections of instructors and experiences with fellow graduate students; reflections on instrument-building in geophysics, including maintenance of ship-based winches; impressions of Ewing as researcher and director, including relations with governmental and private patrons; becomes temporary consultant to ONR. Recollections of Angelo Ludas and his role in fashioning geophysical instruments; experience with deep-sea coring; impressions of relations between geophysicists and geologists at Columbia. Impressions of the founding and initial research programs of Lamont Geological Observatory [LGO], including geochemical and radiocarbon studies by J. Laurence Kulp and reactions of local townspeople to Lamont; development of biology programs at Lamont, and social life at LGO; relations between Ewing and Harry H. Hess; recollections of interactions with Maurice Ewing and John Ewing, and difficulties of position determination at sea. Begins gravity research of ocean floor, and impressions of isostacy debate in 1930s. Growth of LGO in the 1950s and changing relations between research groups; comparison of LGO with competing research centers in the U.S. and Great Britain; development of SOFAR and SOSUS programs; recollections of efforts to secure and finance R/V Vema ddd details from subsequent sessions; offers of positions from other universities; Recollections of gravity research program at Texas, mid-1970s. Also mentioned are: Henry Moe Aldrich, American Geophysical Union, RJV Atlantis, Austin Bailey, Walter Beckmann, Charles C. Bidwell, Henry Bigelow, Francis Birch, Rene Brilliant, Percy Bridgman, Sir Edward C. Bullard, Paul R. Burckholder, California Institute of Technology, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Albert Crary, Merrill D. Cunningham, Reginald A. Daly, William Donn, Dwight D. Eisenhower, David B. Ericson, Margaret Ewing [née Kidder], W. Arnold Finck, Geological Society of America, Gordon Hamilton, Hamilton watches, Carl A. Heiland, Weikko Aleksanteri Heiskanen, Maurice Hill, Columbus Iselin, Paul Kerr, Borje Kullenberg, Thomas W. Lamont, Gordon Lill, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Arthur Maxwell, Benjamin L. Miller, Robert Moses, Walter H. Munk, National Science Foundation, Louis L. Nettleton, Office of Naval Research, Chaim Pekeris, Beauregard Perkins, Hans Pettersson, Charles S. Piggot, Lawrence I. Radway, Ostwald Roels, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Robert R. Shrock, Lynn Shurbet, Louis B. Slichter, Staten Island Academy [High School], Harlan True Stetson, Henry Stetson, Nelson Steenland, Swedish Deep Sea Expedition, Howard A. Tate, Merle Tuve, J. Tuzo Wilson, Goesta Wollin.

Interviewed by
A. B. Christman
Interview date
Abstract

Effect of Sputnik on Navy research and development, position as Chief Scientist of the Advanced Research Projects Agency, and selection to be the first Director for Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E). Origins of DDR&E, its relationship with the services, and the uniformed Navy’s success in keeping R&D projects under control. DDR&E’s contacts with high level government officials, major trends and problems encountered as DDR&E, management style. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s effect on centralization of the armed forces, DDR&E and the general growth of bureaucracy, reasons for leaving DDR&E. Effect of increased R&D on the escalation of the arms race and trends in technology. Review of his career, background experience, including the Manhattan Project, Livermore Laboratory, advisory committees; Chief Scientist, Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), 1958; Director Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E); reasons for and problems involved with the establishment of the DDR&E.

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Yale University Observatory
Abstract

Interview discuss John S. Hall's early interest in astronomy; comments about family background and early childhood, schooling in Connecticut and college training at University of Amherst and Yale University. Early contacts and interests in photoelectric photometry, his pioneering efforts in red sensitive cell photometry, work at the Radiation Laboratory at MIT during World War II, postwar research at the Naval Observatory and his co-discovery of interstellar polarization. Also prominently mentioned are: Solon Bailey, A. L. Bennett, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Thomas Cochran, Robert H. Dicke, Harold Ewen, Fresnell, Green, Jesse Leonard Greenstein, Ejnar Hertzsprung, W. A. Hiltner, Gerald Edward Kron, J. A. Miller, Prescott, Jan Schildt, Frank Schlesinger, Harlow Shapley, Theodore Stoller, Otto Struve, David Todd, Robert Williams Wood; Amherst College Observatory, General Electric Co., Harvard University, Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, Science (journal), Sproul Observatory, United States Navy, and Yerkes Observatory.

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
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D. C.
Abstract

This interview reviews Frosch's early schooling in the New York City Public School system, his education at Columbia University and, in detail, his varied career as a physicist and a science administrator, beginning with his work as a research scientist at Hudson Laboratory and then as Assistant Director and Director of the Theoretical Division. Other topics and affiliations discussed include: Advance Research Project Agency (ARPA); United States Navy; United Nations Environmental Programme; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (administration, research and development techniques, business practices, reorganization, communication); Naval Research Laboratory (NRL); Navy Radiological Laboratory; National Academy of Sciences (NAS); Wallops Center; Dryden Flight Research Facility; Goddard Institute of Space Studies; Office of Naval Research (ONR); JASON Foundation for Education; Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA); Office of Management and Budget (OMB); SOLRAD (SOLar RADiation Satellite Program); Enterprise; Mansfield Amendment; CLOT test (combined loads orbiter test); Gamma-Ray Observatory (GRO); VELA Program; Atomic bomb; relationships between US Navy and NASA; militarization of space exploration; space exploration policy; sonar navigation; musical theory and acoustics; project management theory; satellite communication systems; underwater acoustics and modelling; remote sensing; seismology; shuttle flight testing and preparation; I.I. Rabi; Henry Foley; Charles H. Townes; Ivan Tolstoy; Frank Press; Jimmy Carter, among others.

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D. C.
Abstract

This interview reviews Frosch's early schooling in the New York City Public School system, his education at Columbia University and, in detail, his varied career as a physicist and a science administrator, beginning with his work as a research scientist at Hudson Laboratory and then as Assistant Director and Director of the Theoretical Division. Other topics and affiliations discussed include: Advance Research Project Agency (ARPA); United States Navy; United Nations Environmental Programme; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (administration, research and development techniques, business practices, reorganization, communication); Naval Research Laboratory (NRL); Navy Radiological Laboratory; National Academy of Sciences (NAS); Wallops Center; Dryden Flight Research Facility; Goddard Institute of Space Studies; Office of Naval Research (ONR); JASON Foundation for Education; Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA); Office of Management and Budget (OMB); SOLRAD (SOLar RADiation Satellite Program); Enterprise; Mansfield Amendment; CLOT test (combined loads orbiter test); Gamma-Ray Observatory (GRO); VELA Program; Atomic bomb; relationships between US Navy and NASA; militarization of space exploration; space exploration policy; sonar navigation; musical theory and acoustics; project management theory; satellite communication systems; underwater acoustics and modelling; remote sensing; seismology; shuttle flight testing and preparation; I.I. Rabi; Henry Foley; Charles H. Townes; Ivan Tolstoy; Frank Press; Jimmy Carter, among others.