In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Daniel Zajfman, Institute Professor of Physics at the Weizmann Institute of Science, chair of the academic board of the Israel Science Foundation, chair of the Davidson Institute of Science Education, and Chair of the Schwartz/Reisman Science Education Center. Zajfman reviews some of the scientific and administrative challenges he has experienced during the pandemic, and the leadership role the Weizmann Institute has taken to navigate out of the crisis. He recounts his childhood in Belgium and his early interests in science, and he explains how his early inclinations toward Zionism coalesced into his decision to become an Israeli citizen and attend undergraduate school at the Technion. Zajfman discusses his undergraduate and graduate research in atomic physics, under the direction of Dov Maor. He describes his long-term interest in single ion atom collisions and his postdoctoral research at Argonne Lab, where he developed a complete analysis program that allowed the reconstruction of molecular geometries. Zajfman explains the circumstances leading to his initial appointment in the department of nuclear physics at the Weizmann Institute. He discusses his collaboration at the Max Planck Institute on dissociative recombination for a simple, cold, molecular ion, and he explains his contributions on research on gravitational collapse of interstellar clouds. Zajfman conveys his feelings, being the son of Holocaust survivors, on the significance of his collaborations in Germany. He describes the trajectory he was on that led to his tenure as president of the Weizmann Institute, and he explains how he balanced his administrative responsibilities with his strong desire to work in the lab as much as he could. Zajfman reflects on his accomplishments as president and the many responsibilities he could not foresee taking on, and he discusses Weizmann’s work with the Israeli Ministry of Science and its successful record of recruitment on the basis of the Institute being a purely “Curiosity Driven” center of science. At the end of the interview, Zajfman reflects on his contributions as president, and he conveys his confidence that the Institute has a bright future.
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.
In this interview Raoul Franklin discusses topics such as: getting his doctorate at University of Oxford; [Alfred] Hans Von Engel; atomic and molecular physics; ionized gases; Sandy Brown; plasma physics; David Bohm; City University in London; Manfred Biondi.
In this interview Stephen Buckman discusses topics such as: Gaseous Electronics Conference; Arthur Phelps; Robert Crompton; atomic collision physics; American Physical Society: Division of Atomic Molecular Optical Physics; his education at Flinders University; working at Australia National University; John Lowke; William Allis.