Radio astronomy

Interviewed by
Joan Bromberg and Robert Seidel
Interview date
Location
Berkeley, California
Abstract

Research on nonlinear optics at MIT, 1962-1967. Other laser research in MIT period. Responsibilities as Vice-President and Director of Research at Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA), 1959-1961. Interest at IDA and ARPA in lasers and laser weaponry. Contemporary evaluations of Robert Dicke’s superradiance paper. Townes’s change of research field from nonlinear optics to radio astronomy in the late 1960s.

Interviewed by
Joan Bromberg
Interview date
Location
Berkeley, California
Abstract

Research on nonlinear optics at MIT, 1962-1967. Other laser research in MIT period. Responsibilities as Vice-President and Director of Research at Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA), 1959-1961. Interest at IDA and ARPA in lasers and laser weaponry. Contemporary evaluations of Robert Dicke’s superradiance paper. Townes’s change of research field from nonlinear optics to radio astronomy in the late 1960s.

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.

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
Charles Weiner
Interview date
Abstract

Work in realistic astrophysics in the 1960’s, continuing collaboration with Hoyle, position of Caltech and Kellogg Lab in physics and radio astronomy, work on government committees. Concludes with highlights of career.

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Center for Astrophysics
Abstract

In this interview George Field discusses topics such as: his time at the University of California, Berkeley; Charles Townes; Lick Observatory; working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); radio astronomy work with Ed Purcell; detecting neutral hydrogen gas at big red shifts; Fred Whipple; moving to the Harvard College Observatory; planning for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Charles Lundquist; Riccardo Giacconi; Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory; Northeast Radio Observatory Corporation (NEROC); orbiting solar observatories (OSOs); Dave Challinor; Bart Bok.

Interviewed by
Karl D. Stephan
Interview date
Location
Millitech Corp., South Deerfield, Massachusetts
Abstract

Topics discussed include: family background; undergraduate experiences at Amherst College; teaching at Amherst College; Naval experiences in World War II; discovery of the hydrogen radio emission and fate of the Ewen-Purcell horn; Hydrogen-line radiometer at Harvard and aftermath; Harvard University physics department; work with Kenneth Bainbridge, Edward Mills Purcell, Norman Ramsey, and Victor Weisskopf; work for the Navy on submarine detection; Ewen-Knight Corporation.

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Edmondson’s Office, Swain Hall, Indiana University
Abstract

Early home life in Indiana, and early schooling. Origins of his interest in astronomy and the influence of both family and teachers. College years at Indiana University and contacts with members of the astronomy department there (E.C. and Vesto M. Slipher). Discussion of history of Indiana University Astronomy Department, and its contact with the Lowell Observatory. Graduate school at Harvard University, Peter van de Kamp's influence, work in stellar kinematics, impressions of atmosphere at Harvard. Faculty position at Indiana University, 1937 to present. Origins of Goethe Link Observatory, and the growth of the department. Organizational work in the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Work at National Science Foundation (NSF) as scientific officer for astronomy, 1956, and development of National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO); NSF and AUI; NRAO directors; Sputnik; Kitt Peak Observatory site survey, NSF and Associated Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA); Aden Meinel; John B. Irwin's proposal for a photoelectric observatory; Flagstaff Conference; Robert McMath Panel; structure of Kitt Peak staff; Chilean observatory and development of Cerro Tololo; Gerard Kuiper's role in southern observatory; European Southern Observatory (ESO), Carnegie Southern Observatory (CARSO) and AURA joint Paris meeting; Russian interests in southern observatory; CARSO application to Ford Foundation; agreements between AURA and CARSO; building telescopes at Kitt Peak and Cerro Tololoth︣e WISCO dispute; policy problems; AURA Board meetings; demise of Space Division at Kitt Peak; Whitford Panel; White Sands rocket project; astronomy and teaching at Indiana. Also prominently mentioned are: Jorge Alessandri Rodríguez, Lawrence Hugh Aller, Bart Jan Bok, William A. Cogshall, James Cuffey, H. T. Davis, Arthur Foley, Paul Herget, Helen Sawyer Hogg, Virgil Hunt, Geoffrey Keller, C. O. Lampland, Robert Reynolds McMath, Edward Arthur Milne, Samuel A. Mitchell, William Wilson Morgan, Jason John Nassau, Henry Norris Russell, Frederico Rutllant, Charles Donald Shane, Harlow Shapley, Jurgen Stock, Otto Struve, Merle Antony Tuve, Herman B. Wells, K. P. Williams, Marshall Wrubel; Associated Universities, Inc., Ford Foundation, Indiana Higher Education Telecommunication System, Lick Observatory, McDonald Observatory, and Yerkes Observatory.

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Edmondson’s Office, Swain Hall, Indiana University
Abstract

Early home life in Indiana, and early schooling. Origins of his interest in astronomy and the influence of both family and teachers. College years at Indiana University and contacts with members of the astronomy department there (E.C. and Vesto M. Slipher). Discussion of history of Indiana University Astronomy Department, and its contact with the Lowell Observatory. Graduate school at Harvard University, Peter van de Kamp's influence, work in stellar kinematics, impressions of atmosphere at Harvard. Faculty position at Indiana University, 1937 to present. Origins of Goethe Link Observatory, and the growth of the department. Organizational work in the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Work at National Science Foundation (NSF) as scientific officer for astronomy, 1956, and development of National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO); NSF and AUI; NRAO directors; Sputnik; Kitt Peak Observatory site survey, NSF and Associated Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA); Aden Meinel; John B. Irwin's proposal for a photoelectric observatory; Flagstaff Conference; Robert McMath Panel; structure of Kitt Peak staff; Chilean observatory and development of Cerro Tololo; Gerard Kuiper's role in southern observatory; European Southern Observatory (ESO), Carnegie Southern Observatory (CARSO) and AURA joint Paris meeting; Russian interests in southern observatory; CARSO application to Ford Foundation; agreements between AURA and CARSO; building telescopes at Kitt Peak and Cerro Tololoth︣e WISCO dispute; policy problems; AURA Board meetings; demise of Space Division at Kitt Peak; Whitford Panel; White Sands rocket project; astronomy and teaching at Indiana. Also prominently mentioned are: Jorge Alessandri Rodríguez, Lawrence Hugh Aller, Bart Jan Bok, William A. Cogshall, James Cuffey, H. T. Davis, Arthur Foley, Paul Herget, Helen Sawyer Hogg, Virgil Hunt, Geoffrey Keller, C. O. Lampland, Robert Reynolds McMath, Edward Arthur Milne, Samuel A. Mitchell, William Wilson Morgan, Jason John Nassau, Henry Norris Russell, Frederico Rutllant, Charles Donald Shane, Harlow Shapley, Jurgen Stock, Otto Struve, Merle Antony Tuve, Herman B. Wells, K. P. Williams, Marshall Wrubel; Associated Universities, Inc., Ford Foundation, Indiana Higher Education Telecommunication System, Lick Observatory, McDonald Observatory, and Yerkes Observatory.