Interviewed by

David Zierler

Interview date

Location

Video conference

Abstract

Interview with Arthur Jaffe, the Landon Clay Professor of Mathematics and Theoretical Science at Harvard University. Jaffe discusses his childhood in New York, where his father was a physician. He shares memories of life during World War II and his affinity for building model airplanes and radios. Jaffe recalls the factors that led him to pursue his undergraduate degree at Princeton, where he began as a chemistry major but switched to physics. He recounts how he learned about the work of Arthur Wightman, leading him to continue at Princeton for his graduate studies. Jaffe describes his work on bosonic field theories and his time at a summer program in Montenegro. He discusses his move to Stanford and his work in the theory group at SLAC under Sidney Drell. Jaffe recalls the beginnings of his collaboration with James Glimm, as well as his move to Harvard. He explains his role in forming the Clay Mathematics Institute at Harvard and discusses his involvement in the International Association of Mathematical Physics and the American Mathematical Society. Jaffe shares his take on topics such as superstring theory, supersymmetry, and the four-dimensional problem, and reflects more broadly on changes he has seen in the field of mathematics over the years.

Interviewed by

Charles Weiner

Interview date

Location

Altadena, California

Abstract

Interview covers the development of several branches of theoretical physics from the 1930s through the 1960s; the most extensive discussions deal with topics in quantum electrodynamics, nuclear physics as it relates to fission technology, meson field theory, superfluidity and other properties of liquid helium, beta decay and the Universal Fermi Interaction, with particular emphasis on Feynman's work in the reformulation of quantum electrodynamic field equations. Early life in Brooklyn, New York; high school; undergraduate studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; learning the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics on his own. To Princeton University (John A. Wheeler), 1939; serious preoccupation with problem of self-energy of electron and other problems of quantum field theory; work on uranium isotope separation; Ph.D., 1942. Atomic bomb project, Los Alamos (Hans Bethe, Niels Bohr, Enrico Fermi); test explosion at Alamagordo. After World War II teaches mathematical physics at Cornell University; fundamental ideas in quantum electrodynamics crystalize; publishes "A Space-Time View," 1948; Shelter Island Conference (Lamb shift); Poconos Conferences; relations with Julian Schwinger and Shin'ichiro Tomonaga; nature and quality of scientific education in Latin America; industry and science policies. To California Institute of Technology, 1951; problems associated with the nature of superfluid helium; work on the Lamb shift (Bethe, Michel Baranger); work on the law of beta decay and violation of parity (Murray Gell-Mann); biological studies; philosophy of scientific discovery; Geneva Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy; masers (Robert Hellwarth, Frank Lee Vernon, Jr.), 1957; Solvay Conference, 1961. Appraisal of current state of quantum electrodynamics; opinion of the National Academy of Science; Nobel Prize, 1965.

Interviewed by

Tian Yu Cao

Interview date

Abstract

In this interview, K. G. Wilson discusses the development of the renormalization group. Topics discussed include: Andrew Pickering; the Kondo problem; Ken Johnson; Francis Low; Freeman Dyson; field theory; A. A. Katanov; Michael Fisher; G. Jona-Lasinio; Carlo Di Castro; Franz Wegner; Alexander Patashinski; Valery Pokrovsky; Curtis Callan; Kurt Symanzik; University of Washington Department of Physics; research on teaching physics; s-matrix theory; Peter Carruthers.

Interviewed by

Charles Weiner

Interview date

Location

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Abstract

Developments in quantum mechanics, familiarity with the old quantum theory; Edwin C. Kemble is his thesis advisor at Harvard University, 1920-1922. Comparison of Harvard and University of Wisconsin; work and collaboration with graduate students and postdocs at. Wisconsin. Research work in Europe, 1926 and after; high-frequency paramagnetism. Paramagnetic anisotropy. Teaching at University of Michigan, Stanford University, Columbia University, and Harvard University; 1930 Solvay Congress; discussions of research work and papers, 1920s-1940s; awareness of the development of solid state physics; Linus Pauling and the ligand field theory; teaching responsibilities. War work at the Radio Research Laboratory at Harvard as head of the Theory Group; the many duties on advising and reviewing committees during World War II. Chairman of Physics Department at Harvard, 1945-1949; chairmanships and other official functions during the 1950s, excitement of the renewed interest in ligand field theory (chemists); comments on personal interests.

Interviewed by

Charles Weiner and Gloria Lubkin

Interview date

Location

American Institute of Physics

Abstract

Developments in quantum mechanics, familiarity with the old quantum theory; Edwin C. Kemble is his thesis advisor at Harvard University, 1920-1922. Comparison of Harvard and University of Wisconsin; work and collaboration with graduate students and postdocs at. Wisconsin. Research work in Europe, 1926 and after; high-frequency paramagnetism. Paramagnetic anisotropy. Teaching at University of Michigan, Stanford University, Columbia University, and Harvard University; 1930 Solvay Congress; discussions of research work and papers, 1920s-1940s; awareness of the development of solid state physics; Linus Pauling and the ligand field theory; teaching responsibilities. War work at the Radio Research Laboratory at Harvard as head of the Theory Group; the many duties on advising and reviewing committees during World War II. Chairman of Physics Department at Harvard, 1945-1949; chairmanships and other official functions during the 1950s, excitement of the renewed interest in ligand field theory (chemists); comments on personal interests.

Interviewed by

Charles Weiner

Interview date

Location

Altadena, California

Abstract

Interview covers the development of several branches of theoretical physics from the 1930s through the 1960s; the most extensive discussions deal with topics in quantum electrodynamics, nuclear physics as it relates to fission technology, meson field theory, superfluidity and other properties of liquid helium, beta decay and the Universal Fermi Interaction, with particular emphasis on Feynman's work in the reformulation of quantum electrodynamic field equations. Early life in Brooklyn, New York; high school; undergraduate studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; learning the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics on his own. To Princeton University (John A. Wheeler), 1939; serious preoccupation with problem of self-energy of electron and other problems of quantum field theory; work on uranium isotope separation; Ph.D., 1942. Atomic bomb project, Los Alamos (Hans Bethe, Niels Bohr, Enrico Fermi); test explosion at Alamagordo. After World War II teaches mathematical physics at Cornell University; fundamental ideas in quantum electrodynamics crystalize; publishes "A Space-Time View," 1948; Shelter Island Conference (Lamb shift); Poconos Conferences; relations with Julian Schwinger and Shin'ichiro Tomonaga; nature and quality of scientific education in Latin America; industry and science policies. To California Institute of Technology, 1951; problems associated with the nature of superfluid helium; work on the Lamb shift (Bethe, Michel Baranger); work on the law of beta decay and violation of parity (Murray Gell-Mann); biological studies; philosophy of scientific discovery; Geneva Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy; masers (Robert Hellwarth, Frank Lee Vernon, Jr.), 1957; Solvay Conference, 1961. Appraisal of current state of quantum electrodynamics; opinion of the National Academy of Science; Nobel Prize, 1965.

Interviewed by

Charles Weiner

Interview date

Location

Altadena, California

Abstract

Interview covers the development of several branches of theoretical physics from the 1930s through the 1960s; the most extensive discussions deal with topics in quantum electrodynamics, nuclear physics as it relates to fission technology, meson field theory, superfluidity and other properties of liquid helium, beta decay and the Universal Fermi Interaction, with particular emphasis on Feynman's work in the reformulation of quantum electrodynamic field equations. Early life in Brooklyn, New York; high school; undergraduate studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; learning the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics on his own. To Princeton University (John A. Wheeler), 1939; serious preoccupation with problem of self-energy of electron and other problems of quantum field theory; work on uranium isotope separation; Ph.D., 1942. Atomic bomb project, Los Alamos (Hans Bethe, Niels Bohr, Enrico Fermi); test explosion at Alamagordo. After World War II teaches mathematical physics at Cornell University; fundamental ideas in quantum electrodynamics crystalize; publishes "A Space-Time View," 1948; Shelter Island Conference (Lamb shift); Poconos Conferences; relations with Julian Schwinger and Shin'ichiro Tomonaga; nature and quality of scientific education in Latin America; industry and science policies. To California Institute of Technology, 1951; problems associated with the nature of superfluid helium; work on the Lamb shift (Bethe, Michel Baranger); work on the law of beta decay and violation of parity (Murray Gell-Mann); biological studies; philosophy of scientific discovery; Geneva Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy; masers (Robert Hellwarth, Frank Lee Vernon, Jr.), 1957; Solvay Conference, 1961. Appraisal of current state of quantum electrodynamics; opinion of the National Academy of Science; Nobel Prize, 1965.

Interviewed by

Charles Weiner

Interview date

Location

Altadena, California

Abstract

Interviewed by

Charles Weiner

Interview date

Location

Altadena, California

Abstract

Interviewed by

P. Coleman, P. Chandra and S. Sondhi

Interview date

Abstract

Anderson discusses his interest in Complexity and Physics of Information; the Santa Fe Institute; his doubts about DCS theory of superconductivity and theory of A15s; resonation valence bond ideas; political involvement from local issues to Star Wars defense. Other topics include: ferromagnetism; Ginzburg-Landau theory; Josephson effect; magnetism; military research in the United States; solid state physics; solid state physics in Japan; spin glasses; superconductivity; and spin lattice relaxation.