Astronomy

Interviewed by
David Edge
Interview date
Location
Cambridge, England
Abstract

Career in astronomy beginning with early work in the radio astronomy group at University of Cambridge in 1951. Scheuer's work in cosmology and radio source counts; the 2C survey controversy and the P(D) paper. Scheuer's work outside Cambridge. Change from experimental to theoretical work; the theoretical group at Cambridge and new discoveries; astronomers outside of Cambridge; comparison of astronomy at Cambridge and Jodrell Bank.

Interviewed by
Alan Lightman
Interview date
Location
Berkeley, California
Abstract

In this interview Joseph Silk discusses topics such as: influence of Boy Scouts in childhood; family background; high school education; early interest in mathematics; coaching by high school math teacher; math at Cambridge; influence of Dennis Sciama at Cambridge and decision to go into astronomy; fellow students at Harvard; character of Harvard astronomy department in the 1960s; David Layzer's opposition to the standard big bang model; first interest in the problem of galaxy formation and the union of hydrodynamics, radiative transfer, and cosmology at Woods Hole in summer of 1967; influence of Richard Michie; thesis work on interaction of matter and radiation in galaxy formation; ignorance about the first second of the universe and the origin of the primordial fluctuations; history of the growing confidence in the meaning of the cosmic background radiation; the philosophy of simplicity in physics; the role of the cosmic background rdiation in testing theories of galaxy formation; history of the horizon problem and Silk's attitude toward that problem; change in attitude as a result of the inflationary universe model; attitude toward the inflationary universe model; reasons why the model has become so popular; first introduction to and attitude toward the flatness problem; Silk's acceptance of appropriate initial conditions as explanations of cosmological problems; attitude toward the missing mass required by inflation; reaction to de Lapparent, Geller, and Huchra's work on inhomogeneities; ignorance of nature of inhomogeneities on scales betwen 20 megaparsecs and 2000 megaparsecs; worry over large-scale velocity fields and reported anistropies in the cosmic background radiation as challenges to standard models for the origin of fluctuations; importance of reported distortions in the spectrum of the cosmic background radiation (CBR) and difficulties of explaining such distortions if true; outstanding problems in cosmology: distortions in the CBR, galaxy formation, suitable initial conditions, satisfactory theory of inflation, value of omega; importance of metaphors and good verbal descriptions in scientific communication; interplay of theory and observation in cosmology; ideal design of the universe; question of whether the universe has a point.

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Abstract

In this interview Robert Noyes discusses topics such as: his family background; undergraduate at Haverford College; graduate work at California Institute of Technology (Caltech); Frank Press and geophysics; Fay Ajzenberg Selov; Robert Leighton as his advior in graduate school; Mt. Wilson Observatory; Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO); Leo Goldberg; Chuck Whitney; astronomy; solar satellite project; helioseismology; Tim Brown; Dave Charbonneau; Ed Reeves; Bill Parkinson; George Withbroe; Andrea Dupree; Martin Huber; John Raymond; Peter Foukal; Jacques Beckers; Frank Low; Sacramento Peak Observatory; Orbiting Solar Observatories (OSO); Fred Whipple; space solar physics.

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Hale Observatories, Santa Barbara State
Abstract

Family history. Margaret Harwood’s lectures at Maria Mitchell Observatory in Nantucket; B.A. from Barnard College, 1925; work with Harlow Shapley at Harvard University, 1926; funding of astronomy projects and Shapley’s other interests in phenomena of nature. M.A. from Radcliffe, 1928. Other female astronomers: Helen Hogg, Antonia Maury, Cecilia Payne Gaposchkin; marriage of the Gaposchkins. Her paper at dedication of Tonantzintla Observatory. Work on LORAN navigation tables with Fletcher Watson during World War II; position at Barnard and Columbia; lecturer at Connecticut College for Women. Work as Walter Baade’s assistant at Hale Observatory, Baade’s work style and influence; Ira S. Bowen, Edwin P. Hubble, disputes among Shapley, Hubble and Baade. History of Swope’s work on variable stars, direct observation in Australia with Bart Bok, 1965; work with Margaret Mayall in American Association of Variable Star Observers. History of technique and changes in astronomy. History of attitudes towards women in astronomy; view of her own role and work in astronomy.

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Suzuki's office, Kamiokande Research Facility, Kamioka
Abstract

This interview is part of a small program to document the recent history of the American Astronomical Society. These interviews were used as background studies to help authors of chapters for the centennial history volume of the Society research and organize documentary materials. The volume was published in 1999. Some topics include: Brookhaven National Laboratory, Gran Sassa Laboratory, Osaka University, University of Tokyo. Prominently mentioned are John Bahcall, Masatoshi Koshiba, Alfred Mann, Kozo Miyake, Yorikio Nagashima.

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Campbell Hall, Berkeley, California
Abstract

Early life in New York and California, and decision to do undergraduate work in astronomy at University of California at Berkeley. Decision during army service, 1955-1957, on a career in astronomy; return to Berkeley, 1957, for graduate work. Professional career: work at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), 1961-1964; return to Berkeley as professor in 1964, and research in galaxy-related problems. General problems in cosmology. Also prominently mentioned are: Wilhelm Heinrich Walter Baade, Jerry Brown, Armin Deutsch, Jesse Leonard Greenstein, Louis Henyey, Alfred H. Joy, Lou Kaplan, Richard Kron, Gerard Peter Kuiper, Nicholas Ulrich Mayall, Rudolph Leo Bernhard Minkowski, William Wilson Morgan, Guido Münch, George Preston, Ronald Reagan, Allan Sandage, Emanuel B. Spinrad, Bengt Georg Daniel Strömgren, Otto Struve, George Wallerston, Joe Wampler, Harold Weaver, Albert Edward Whitford; California Institute of Technology, Hayden Planetarium, International Astronomical Union, Lick Observatory, San Diego State University, Sky and Telescope, United States Army Map Service, and Yale Conference on Cosmology (1977).

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Van Vleck Observatory, Wesleyan University, Middleton, Connecticut
Abstract

Interview covers early education in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. and early interests in astronomy and science; early contact with H. Luyten (1940); graduate school at the University of Michigan and continuation of graduate work at Case; Jason Nassau and galactic structure; research positions at Swarthmore and the Naval Observatory; move to Wesleyan, 1966; teaching and astrometric research; the FAR: Fund for Astrophysical Research; the restoration of Clark telescopes; influential astronomers: W. Luyten, P.van de Kamp, K.A. Strand, S. McCuskey, Bart Bok; professional conditions at Wesleyan.

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Yale University Observatory
Abstract

Covers the origins and development of a conference on the evolution of galaxies held at Yale University in 1977 and organized by a committee chaired by B. Tinsley. The topics discussed at the conference and their implications for cosmology are covered, as well as indications of problems yet to be solved. Also prominently mentioned are: Wilhelm Heinrich Walter Baade, Pierre Demarque, Sandra Faber, George Brooks Field, Ken Freeman, Ivan Robert King, Richard Kron, Richard Larson, R. D. McClure, Jeremiah P. Ostriker, Martin J. Rees, Edwin Ernest Salpeter, Allan Sandage, Wallace Leslie William Sargent, Gerard Henri de Vaucouleurs; Kitt Peak National Observatory, and Yale Conference on Cosmology (1977).

Interviewed by
Finn Aaserud
Interview dates
May 20 and 21, 1987
Abstract

Early education and exposure to field; attends Duke University; graduate work at California Institute of Technology; Caltech environment; work with Smythe; develops interest in spectroscopy. Accepts position at Bell Laboratories; shift from research to engineering; attempts to pursuade Bell Labs to become involved in microwave spectroscopy. Impact of war on development of spectroscopy and physics in general. Interest in astronomy. Accepts I. I. Rabi's job offer at Columbia; work conditions at Columbia versus Bell Labs. Forms advisory committee on millimeter waves; on Navy committee for infrared radiation; feelings about committee work. Work on service advisory committees prior to position as director of research at the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA). Involvement in Office of Naval Research (ONR) committees on millimeter waves and infrared radiation; purpose and outcome of work, including development of maser concept; participation in non-service advisory committees; work at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Acceptance of IDA position; circumstances and considerations involved; views on direction of IDA. Involvement in establishing JASON?establishing clearances, convincing Pentagon. JASON organizational structure; selection of projects and members; extent of Townes' own involvement in projects; impact of JASON on government advising and social policy.

Interviewed by
William V. Smith
Interview dates
June 18 and 20, 1979
Abstract

Childhood and youth; his family life and siblings; eduation at Furman during the Depression, 1931-1935; merit scholarship. Graduate study at Duke University in 1936; shifts to Caltech during second year; early interest in astronomy; works with Fred Zwicky. His first job and Bell Telephone Laboratories, from 1939-1947; scientific associates (Deal Woodridge, William Schokley). Discussion of work on microwave spectroscopy and NH3 spectrum; competition with Bleaney and Good. Accepts I. I. Rabi's offer to join Columbia University faculty in 1948. Interest in molecules, atoms (not solid state physicians), and in short microwaves; comments on teaching, students and faculty; department head from 1952-1955. Inventions of the maser and laser in the 1950s, background ideas; Teshkas' and Lambs' writings on stimulated emission. Purcell, Pound, Dicke did not think of maser; discussion of effects contributing to the appearance of stimultaneity of inventions. Masers in radioastronomy; consultantship at BTL; joint laser invention with Arthur Schawlow. Interactions with Gordan Gould; BTL's interest in the laser.