Nuclear physics

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 Stephen McGuire, James and Ruth Smith Endowed Professor of Physics, Emeritus, at Southern University and A&M College. McGuire recounts his family’s heritage in Louisiana and his upbringing in New Orleans, which was completely segregated during his childhood. He describes his early interests in physics and how NASA and the space race captured his boyhood imagination. McGuire describes his undergraduate education at Southern, where he was given a full scholarship and where he pursued a degree in physics. He explains his decision to enter graduate school at the University of Rochester where he focused on experimental nuclear physics and was supported by the NSF on the Nuclear Structure Research Laboratory. He discusses the import of the Cold War on nuclear physics during his graduate school years, and his work with the Fulbright Group, named after Harry Fulbright, who worked on the Manhattan Project. McGuire explains his decision to transfer from Rochester to the Applied and Engineering Physics Program at Cornell for his Ph.D. and where he studied under David Delano Clark, who was the director of the Ward Laboratory of Nuclear Engineering. He discusses his postdoctoral work at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory where he joined the High Flux Isotope Reactor group, and his subsequent work as a professor at Alabama A&M. He describes the satisfaction he felt teaching at a Historically Black University and how the proximity to the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center led to his collaborative work with NASA. McGuire explains his decision to move back to Cornell where he had a joint appointment in the nuclear reactor laboratory and the physics department. He discusses his subsequent move to Southern, where he became chair of the physics department, and he explains the origins of LIGO’s Observatory in Louisiana. McGuire explains Southern’s contributions to the LIGO collaboration, his specific research on reducing noise in the test mass mirror substrates and coatings, and he provides an overview of how the project has changed over his twenty years of involvement, and what we know about the universe as a result of LIGO. At the end of the interview, McGuire reflects on his efforts to make physics and STEM more inclusive of under-represented groups and why optimism in the future has and continues to serve him well as a citizen and as a scientist. 

Interviewed by
Philip Kao
Interview date
Location
National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, Michigan State University
Abstract

In this interview, Dr. Aaron Galonsky, Professor of Physics Emeritus, describes his early days working with the Midwestern Universities Research Association (MURA) and experimental nuclear physics. He describes the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) during the 1960s and gives details regarding the K-500 and K-1200 cyclotrons.

Interviewed by
Philip Kao
Interview date
Location
National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, Michigan State University
Abstract

In this interview Dr. Sam Austin, University Distinguished Professor of Physics (Emeritus), offers insight into the history of the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) and the early days of research in the lab, starting in 1965 with the K50. He discusses some of what it takes to run a success national research laboratory.

Interviewed by
Philip Kao
Interview date
Location
National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, Michigan State University
Abstract

In this interview Dr. Raman Anantaraman, senior physicist and former assistant director of user relations, explains how he ended studying physics, charting his career from India to the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL). He gives an account of the development of the Program Advisory Committee (PAC), and how users contributed to the mission of the lab.

Interviewed by
Catherine Westfall and L. S. Cardman
Interview date
Location
Unknown
Abstract

Gerassimos Petratos joined the Hall A collaboration at the Thomas Jefferson Accelerator Facility in 1989. This interview explains his work with the collaboration, which included coordinating the organization of the collaboration, overseeing the development of Hall A detectors, and then scheduling experiments and helping with commissioning.

Interviewed by
Thomas S. Kuhn and Eugen Merzbacher
Interview date
Location
Otto Stuhlman's house, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Abstract

This interview was conducted as part of the Archives for the History of Quantum Physics project, which includes tapes and transcripts of oral history interviews conducted with circa 100 atomic and quantum physicists. Subjects discuss their family backgrounds, how they became interested in physics, their educations, people who influenced them, their careers including social influences on the conditions of research, and the state of atomic, nuclear, and quantum physics during the period in which they worked. Discussions of scientific matters relate to work that was done between approximately 1900 and 1930, with an emphasis on the discovery and interpretations of quantum mechanics in the 1920s. Also prominently mentioned are: Edwin Plimpton Adams, Karl Compton, Harris Hancock, James Jeans, Owen Willans Richardson, Dean West; University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton University.

Interviewed by
Stuart "Bill" Leslie
Interview date
Location
General Atomic
Abstract

In this interview Harold Agnew discusses topics such as: his time at the University of Chicago and Enrico Fermi; Columbia University; John Manley; George Weil; Los Alamos during World War II; Seth Neddermeyer; J. Robert Oppenheimer; George Kistiakowsky; Luis Alvarez; Bill Penny; National Science Foundation scholarship; nuclear physics; Laura Fermi; Richard Garwin; Don Hornig; General Atomics; Freddie de Hoffmann; Ed Creutz.

Interviewed by
Catherine Westfall
Interview date
Location
Argonne National Laboratory
Abstract

In this interview Donald Geesaman discusses topics such as: Argonne National Laboratory; Dirk Walecka; hadron physics; Roy Holt; Herman Feshbach; Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC); Nuclear Science Advisory Committee (NSAC); Bernard Mecking; Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF); Gerry Garvey; quarks; Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab); Jefferson Laboratory; nuclear physics; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Larry Cardman; Keith Baker; relativistic heavy ion (RHIC) experiments.

Interviewed by
Charles Weiner
Interview date
Location
Professor Occhialini's apartment
Abstract

Topics discussed include: Bruno Rossi, Gilberto Bernardini, Ettore Majorana, radioactivity, Antonio Lo Surdo, Antonio Garbasso, Lise Meitner, Ernest Rutherford, C. T. R. Wilson, John Cockcroft, P. M. S. Blackett, Gleb Wataghin, Gian Carlo Wick, Franco Rasetti, Enrico Persico, Dirac's theory, nuclear physics, Emilio Segre, cosmic rays, James Chadwick, Cambridge University, Shimizu, George Gamow, Frederic Joliot, Cavendish laboratory, P. L. Kapitsa, Hans Geiger, Maurice Goldhaber, Victor Weisskopf, David Frisch, Ehrenburg, Carl Anderson, Guglielmo Marconi, Louis de Broglie, P. A. M. Dirac, fellowship from National Council of Research, Arthur Holly Compton, Surgio de Benedetti, Giulio Racah, Sergei Vavilov, University at Sao Paolo, William Bragg, Cecil Powell, sigma star, and pi-meson decay.