Wesleyan University (Middletown, Conn.)

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Daniel Z. Freedman, Professor Emeritus of Applied Mathematics and Physics at MIT and long-term visiting professor at Stanford. Freedman explains his understanding of the term’s mathematical physics and physical mathematics, and he bemoans the broad decoupling of experiment and theory in physics. He recounts his upbringing in West Hartford, Connecticut, and he describes his undergraduate education at Wesleyan. Freedman describes his early attachment to theory and his graduate work at the University of Wisconsin, where he worked under the direction of Ray Sawyer on Regge poles. He discusses his postdoctoral research as a NATO fellow in Europe at CERN and Imperial College London, and he conveys the sense of excitement at the time about the weak and strong interactions. Freedman describes his appointment at UC Berkeley before joining the Institute for Advanced Study, and he explains the opportunity that led to his faculty job at Stony Brook. He reflects on his interactions with Yang and he narrates the origins of supersymmetry, and shortly after, the origins of supergravity. Freedman explains what is “super” in supergravity, supersymmetry, and super-space, and he describes why the reality of supersymmetry must be true even if we lack the tools to see it. He explains his decision to move to MIT, and he connects the arc from the 1984 string revolution to the discovery of AdS/CFT in 1997. Freedman describes winning the Dirac medal and subsequently the Breakthrough Prize, which he understood as confirmation in the community about the importance of supergravity. At the end of the interview, Freedman connects his work to larger questions in cosmology and astrophysics, he expresses surprise by the increasing centrality of mathematics to physics, he explains his early work on neutrino scattering and why after 40 years, his original intuition has been vindicated.

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Van Vleck Observatory, Wesleyan University, Middleton, Connecticut
Abstract

Interview covers early education in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. and early interests in astronomy and science; early contact with H. Luyten (1940); graduate school at the University of Michigan and continuation of graduate work at Case; Jason Nassau and galactic structure; research positions at Swarthmore and the Naval Observatory; move to Wesleyan, 1966; teaching and astrometric research; the FAR: Fund for Astrophysical Research; the restoration of Clark telescopes; influential astronomers: W. Luyten, P.van de Kamp, K.A. Strand, S. McCuskey, Bart Bok; professional conditions at Wesleyan.

Interviewed by
W. James King
Location
Grover's home, Schenectady, New York
Abstract

Early education. Krause and Harry Goodwin as teachers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard Observatory work before 1900; assistantship at Wesleyan University, association with Edward B. Rosa, Walter G. Cady, and John Van Vleck, work on vector treatment of alternating currents. Joined Lafayette College. Joined National Bureau of Standards (NBS) in 1902, historical data on and description of NBS, influence of Rosa and Julius Stratton, Irving Wolff's work on EMF and R standards, major work at NBS of standardizing electrical units for industry, beginning of his work on capacitance. Ph.D. at George Washington University, faculty members, research on frequency and temperature and variation of condensers; Munich research with Arnold Sommerfeld and supervisors, 1908. Return to NBS, work with J. Howard Dellinger and Harvey L. Curtis; 1910 Conference on electrical standards and silver voltmeters; time at Colby College, teaching, inductance and capacitance work, Wenner's standard unit. Joined Union College faculty in 1920; attended 1931 Faraday Centennial in London. Later life at Union and association with General Electric.

Interviewed by
Charles Weiner
Interview date
Location
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Abstract

Family background; grows up in California; early interest in electronics. Undergraduate and graduate studies at Caltech. Strong interest in history of science as undergraduate. Ph.D. in physics, 1932. University of California at Berkeley, 1932-1934. MIT from 1934; founder of the Radioactivity Center. Starts first course designated "nuclear physics," January 1935. Strong interest in study of radium poisoning; radium tolerance in humans, cancer research. World War II work, postwar work; establishment of Laboratory for Nuclear Science and Engineering. Markle Foundation supplies funds for the Radioactivity Center's Cyclotron; the 1940 Conference on Applied Nuclear Physics (sponsored by the American Institute of Physics and MIT); World War II work at the Radioactivity Center at MIT; radium dial paint studies; radium and plutonium safety regulations (Glenn Seaborg); work relations with the Manhattan Project; the MAMI (marked mine) project reveals indication of German plutonium project. Also prominently mentioned are: Carl David Anderson, Joe Aub, Joe Boyce, Vannevar Bush, Evan Byers, John Cockcroft, Robert Colenko, Arthur Holly Compton, Karl Taylor Compton, Enrico Fermi, Horace Ford, Ralph Howard Fowler, George Gamow, Newell Gingrich, Clark Goodman, Leslie Richard Groves, George Harrison, Hobart, Elmer Hutchisson, Ray Keating, Arthur Kip, Pinkie Klein, Rudolf Ladenburg, Charles Christian Lauritsen, Thomas Lauritsen, Ernest Orlando Lawrence, Gilbert Newton Lewis, Willard Frank Libby, Milton Stanley Livingston, Leonard Benedict Loeb, Sam Lynd, Edwin Mattison McMillan, Robert Andrews Millikan, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Elmer Robinson, Ernest Rutherford, John Clarke Slater, Sorensen, Robert Jamison Van de Graaff, Ernest Thomas Sinton Walton, Martin Wittenberg, Jerrold Reinach Zacharias; American Institute of Physics; American Cancer Society, Bausch and Lomb Co., National Research Council, Radiation Standards Committee, United States Federal Cancer Commission, United States Food and Drug Administration, United States National Bureau of Standards, United States Navy, University of Rochester, University of Utah Salt Lake City Project, Wesleyan University, World War I, and World War II.

Interviewed by
Charles Weiner
Interview date
Location
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Abstract

Family background; grows up in California; early interest in electronics. Undergraduate and graduate studies at Caltech. Strong interest in history of science as undergraduate. Ph.D. in physics, 1932. University of California at Berkeley, 1932-1934. MIT from 1934; founder of the Radioactivity Center. Starts first course designated "nuclear physics," January 1935. Strong interest in study of radium poisoning; radium tolerance in humans, cancer research. World War II work, postwar work; establishment of Laboratory for Nuclear Science and Engineering. Markle Foundation supplies funds for the Radioactivity Center's Cyclotron; the 1940 Conference on Applied Nuclear Physics (sponsored by the American Institute of Physics and MIT); World War II work at the Radioactivity Center at MIT; radium dial paint studies; radium and plutonium safety regulations (Glenn Seaborg); work relations with the Manhattan Project; the MAMI (marked mine) project reveals indication of German plutonium project. Also prominently mentioned are: Carl David Anderson, Joe Aub, Joe Boyce, Vannevar Bush, Evan Byers, John Cockcroft, Robert Colenko, Arthur Holly Compton, Karl Taylor Compton, Enrico Fermi, Horace Ford, Ralph Howard Fowler, George Gamow, Newell Gingrich, Clark Goodman, Leslie Richard Groves, George Harrison, Hobart, Elmer Hutchisson, Ray Keating, Arthur Kip, Pinkie Klein, Rudolf Ladenburg, Charles Christian Lauritsen, Thomas Lauritsen, Ernest Orlando Lawrence, Gilbert Newton Lewis, Willard Frank Libby, Milton Stanley Livingston, Leonard Benedict Loeb, Sam Lynd, Edwin Mattison McMillan, Robert Andrews Millikan, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Elmer Robinson, Ernest Rutherford, John Clarke Slater, Sorensen, Robert Jamison Van de Graaff, Ernest Thomas Sinton Walton, Martin Wittenberg, Jerrold Reinach Zacharias; American Institute of Physics; American Cancer Society, Bausch and Lomb Co., National Research Council, Radiation Standards Committee, United States Federal Cancer Commission, United States Food and Drug Administration, United States National Bureau of Standards, United States Navy, University of Rochester, University of Utah Salt Lake City Project, Wesleyan University, World War I, and World War II.

Interviewed by
Charles Weiner
Interview dates
May 2 and 3, 1972
Location
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Abstract

Family background; grows up in California; early interest in electronics. Undergraduate and graduate studies at Caltech. Strong interest in history of science as undergraduate. Ph.D. in physics, 1932. University of California at Berkeley, 1932-1934. MIT from 1934; founder of the Radioactivity Center. Starts first course designated "nuclear physics," January 1935. Strong interest in study of radium poisoning; radium tolerance in humans, cancer research. World War II work, postwar work; establishment of Laboratory for Nuclear Science and Engineering. Markle Foundation supplies funds for the Radioactivity Center's Cyclotron; the 1940 Conference on Applied Nuclear Physics (sponsored by the American Institute of Physics and MIT); World War II work at the Radioactivity Center at MIT; radium dial paint studies; radium and plutonium safety regulations (Glenn Seaborg); work relations with the Manhattan Project; the MAMI (marked mine) project reveals indication of German plutonium project. Also prominently mentioned are: Carl David Anderson, Joe Aub, Joe Boyce, Vannevar Bush, Evan Byers, John Cockcroft, Robert Colenko, Arthur Holly Compton, Karl Taylor Compton, Enrico Fermi, Horace Ford, Ralph Howard Fowler, George Gamow, Newell Gingrich, Clark Goodman, Leslie Richard Groves, George Harrison, Hobart, Elmer Hutchisson, Ray Keating, Arthur Kip, Pinkie Klein, Rudolf Ladenburg, Charles Christian Lauritsen, Thomas Lauritsen, Ernest Orlando Lawrence, Gilbert Newton Lewis, Willard Frank Libby, Milton Stanley Livingston, Leonard Benedict Loeb, Sam Lynd, Edwin Mattison McMillan, Robert Andrews Millikan, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Elmer Robinson, Ernest Rutherford, John Clarke Slater, Sorensen, Robert Jamison Van de Graaff, Ernest Thomas Sinton Walton, Martin Wittenberg, Jerrold Reinach Zacharias; American Institute of Physics; American Cancer Society, Bausch and Lomb Co., National Research Council, Radiation Standards Committee, United States Federal Cancer Commission, United States Food and Drug Administration, United States National Bureau of Standards, United States Navy, University of Rochester, University of Utah Salt Lake City Project, Wesleyan University, World War I, and World War II.

Interviewed by
R. Bruce Lindsay and W. James King
Interview date
Location
Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
Abstract

Early interest in science; Brown University 1891-1896; Carl Barus; Universität Berlin 1897-1900, thesis work with Emil Warburg; American students in Germany; Wesleyan University 1902-1946. Early American Physical Society meetings, Arthur G. Webster. The piezo electric resonator and the frequency stabilizer, work on Rochelle salt crystals. Lawsuits regarding patent rights; independent inventors versus big corporations. Excerpts of family history, societies, list of outstanding students, list of patents; about Hans Jaffe, Frank Dietz, Frederick Slocum, the Langevin-Curie scandal. Avocations, old violins; disposition of his early apparatus, inventions, diaries; reasons for moving back to Rhode Island. Also prominently mentioned are: Clark, Albert Wallace Hull, Walter Kaufmann, Henry Parker Manning, Albert Abraham Michelson, A. M. Nicolson, Max Planck, Poulsen, Edward Bennett Rosa, Heinrich Rubens, Schwartz, George Wood Vinal; Scott Laboratory, and Western Electric Company.

Interviewed by
R. Bruce Lindsay and W. James King
Interview date
Location
Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
Abstract

Early interest in science; Brown University 1891-1896; Carl Barus; Universität Berlin 1897-1900, thesis work with Emil Warburg; American students in Germany; Wesleyan University 1902-1946. Early American Physical Society meetings, Arthur G. Webster. The piezo electric resonator and the frequency stabilizer, work on Rochelle salt crystals. Lawsuits regarding patent rights; independent inventors versus big corporations. Excerpts of family history, societies, list of outstanding students, list of patents; about Hans Jaffe, Frank Dietz, Frederick Slocum, the Langevin-Curie scandal. Avocations, old violins; disposition of his early apparatus, inventions, diaries; reasons for moving back to Rhode Island. Also prominently mentioned are: Clark, Albert Wallace Hull, Walter Kaufmann, Henry Parker Manning, Albert Abraham Michelson, A. M. Nicolson, Max Planck, Poulsen, Edward Bennett Rosa, Heinrich Rubens, Schwartz, George Wood Vinal; Scott Laboratory, and Western Electric Company.