Early interest in physics. Education and career prior to joining JASON: two years in the Royal Air Force; switch from mathematics to physics after the war; enrollment at Cornell University in 1947; difference between American and British physics. Exposure to science policy (Federation of Atomic Scientists, Philip Morrison); U.S. citizen 1957. Motivation for joining JASON; JASON work vs. work in Arms Control and Disarmament Agency; work on active optics in JASON; technical tasks vs. policy advice; Oregon Trail; availability of JASON bibliography; public profile of JASON members; divisions within JASON; other science policy activities; reasons for leaving JASON. Also prominently mentioned are: Abraham S. Besicovich; Columbia University, General Atomic Company, Nike-X (Missile), United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and University of Birmingham.
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.