Cold War

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Remote Interview
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, Interviews Robert Kuckuck, director emeritus of Los Alamos National Laboratory. He recounts his childhood in Wheeling, West Virginia, and he describes his working-class upbringing and how he would understand pursuing an advanced degree as very much an against-the-grain endeavor relative to his roots. He describes the circumstances leading to his undergraduate education at West Liberty State College and how he settled on physics as a major. Kuckuck discusses his work in the library for Battelle, and the arrangement he made to pursue a graduate degree in physics part time at Ohio State. He describes his work there under the direction of K. Narahari Rao and how he came to work at the Radiation Laboratory at the University of California. Kuckuck explains what he learned about nuclear weapons and research early in his career at Livermore, and how he integrated his lab work in the L-Division with his graduate studies. He describes some of the tensions surrounding working in a military research environment in the midst of the Vietnam War. Kuckuck describes in broad detail his four decades in research and administration at Livermore, including some of the key collaborations both within government and in the private technical sector. He describes his work at the Nevada Test Site and the challenges inherent in underground nuclear testing. Kuckuck reflects on the competitive relationship between Livermore and Los Alamos and the nature of his advisory work on verification issues and SDI research in Washington during the late stage of the Cold War. Kuckuck describes the impact of the end of the Cold War on nuclear testing and the creation of the NNSA. At the end of the interview, Kuckuck explains the complex factors leading to his brief directorship of Los Alamos, and he reflects on his efforts to maintain the viability and reputation for cutting edge research at the lab over the long term. 

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Mary Elizabeth (MaryBeth) Beerbohm, longtime secretary to Pief Panofsky at SLAC. Beerbohm recounts her childhood in northern Minnesota and she explains how her training in shorthand during high school helped her get a job at SLAC. She describes the origins of “Project M,” and she discusses Panofsky’s daily schedule, his work style, and his management techniques. Beerbohm describes how Panofsky made SLAC feel like a family atmosphere, and as a “good Democrat,” Beerbohm humorously wonders what Panosfky would have thought of Trump. She relates Panofsky’s ideas about nuclear weapons and the Cold War and that his commitment to the Lab remained strong throughout his retirement. At the end of the interview, Beerbohm reflects on her long career at SLAC, and she credits Panofsky for making it both an exciting and meaningful place to work.

Interviewed by
Jean Deken
Interview date
Location
Dr. Panofsky's office at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC)
Abstract

In this interview Wolfgang Panofsky discusses topics such as: his time at the High Energy Physics Laboratory at Stanford University; Stanford Linear Accelerators Center (SLAC); Atomic Energy Commission (AEC); Edwin McMillan; Burton Richter; running a physical laboratory; Luis Alvarez; the Cold War; University of California, Berkeley; teaching and setting up research projects for graduate students; serving on the President's Science Advisory Committee; Robert Marshak; McCarthyism and House Committee on Un-American Activities; Paul McDaniel; Vietnam War's effect; working with Chinese physicists; Frank Oppenheimer; Department of Energy; safety measures in the laboratories; arms control; Marvin Goldberger; JASON group; Richard Garwin; John Holdren.

Interviewed by
Jean Deken and Elizabeth Paris
Interview date
Location
Dr. Panofsky's office at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC)
Abstract

In this interview Wolfgang Panofsky discusses topics such as: his time at the High Energy Physics Laboratory at Stanford University; Stanford Linear Accelerators Center (SLAC); Atomic Energy Commission (AEC); Edwin McMillan; Burton Richter; running a physical laboratory; Luis Alvarez; the Cold War; University of California, Berkeley; teaching and setting up research projects for graduate students; serving on the President's Science Advisory Committee; Robert Marshak; McCarthyism and House Committee on Un-American Activities; Paul McDaniel; Vietnam War's effect; working with Chinese physicists; Frank Oppenheimer; Department of Energy; safety measures in the laboratories; arms control; Marvin Goldberger; JASON group; Richard Garwin; John Holdren.

Interviewed by
Elizabeth Paris and Jean Deken
Interview date
Location
Dr. Panofsky's office at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC)
Abstract

In this interview Wolfgang Panofsky discusses topics such as: his time at the High Energy Physics Laboratory at Stanford University; Stanford Linear Accelerators Center (SLAC); Atomic Energy Commission (AEC); Edwin McMillan; Burton Richter; running a physical laboratory; Luis Alvarez; the Cold War; University of California, Berkeley; teaching and setting up research projects for graduate students; serving on the President's Science Advisory Committee; Robert Marshak; McCarthyism and House Committee on Un-American Activities; Paul McDaniel; Vietnam War's effect; working with Chinese physicists; Frank Oppenheimer; Department of Energy; safety measures in the laboratories; arms control; Marvin Goldberger; JASON group; Richard Garwin; John Holdren.

Interviewed by
Elizabeth Paris and Jean Deken
Interview date
Location
Dr. Panofsky's office at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC)
Abstract

In this interview Wolfgang Panofsky discusses topics such as: his time at the High Energy Physics Laboratory at Stanford University; Stanford Linear Accelerators Center (SLAC); Atomic Energy Commission (AEC); Edwin McMillan; Burton Richter; running a physical laboratory; Luis Alvarez; the Cold War; University of California, Berkeley; teaching and setting up research projects for graduate students; serving on the President's Science Advisory Committee; Robert Marshak; McCarthyism and House Committee on Un-American Activities; Paul McDaniel; Vietnam War's effect; working with Chinese physicists; Frank Oppenheimer; Department of Energy; safety measures in the laboratories; arms control; Marvin Goldberger; JASON group; Richard Garwin; John Holdren.

Interviewed by
Patrick Catt
Interview date
Location
Haverford College
Abstract

In this interview, William Davidon discusses his political and social activism and its relationship to his scientific career. Topics discussed include: Albert Einstein; Norman Thomas; Purdue University; Marvin Goldberger; University of Chicago; atmospheric atomic bomb testing; Cold War; JASON group; Federation of American Scientists; American Friends Service Committee; American Physical Society; Adlai Stevenson; Morton Hamermesh; Haverford College; Hans Ekstein; Fay Ajzenberg-Selove; Committee for Nonviolent Action (CNVA); Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs; Science for the People; Russ Stetler; Society for Social Responsibility in Science (SSRS); Mal Benjamin; Vietnam War protests; A. J. Muste; Oscar Handlin; Dan Berrigan; Union of Concerned Scientists; Henry Kissinger.

Interviewed by
R. Cargill Hall
Interview date
Location
Bell Laboratories
Abstract

The discussion is wide-ranging, though focused in general on the issues of improved intelligence collection during the Cold War. Dr. Baker nonetheless shared his views on numerous related matters including early science advice for President Truman, the decision for thermonuclear weapons, President Eisenhower's seminal Technological Capability and Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) Panels, the evolution of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, human and instrumented space flight, and advances in communications, materials and solid state science and technology that made possible overhead reconnaissance systems, among other subjects. His recall of contemporaries and their contributions in various disciplines helps illuminate a fifty-year period in which intelligence collection changed dramatically.