Ultraviolet astronomy

Interviewed by
Richard F. Hirsh
Interview date
Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D. C.

Deals with the career of Herbert Friedman, an experimentalist who used space-borne instruments from the 1940s through 1970s to examine the upper atmosphere and astronomical phenomena. Pioneer in the fields of solar and non-solar x-ray astronomy. His role in development of Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) research programs. Discussed are: childhood and youth; his family's Jewish tradition; physics education at Brooklyn College and Johns Hopkins University during the Depression; anti-semitism in job-hiring; to the National Research Laboratory (NRL), 1940; war work on radio crystal oscillators using x-ray techniques; his atomic bomb detection work after the war; introduction to rocket research at NRL immediately after the war; Navy funding of rocket work; early solar x-ray work, 1949-1958; impressions of colleagues Edward O. Hulbert, Richard Tousey, T. Robert Burnight, Homer E. Newell; impact of Sputnik and creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958; pioneering work in ultraviolet astronomy and non-solar x-ray astronomy; x-ray astronomy work in the 1960s; trying to detect neutron stars in 1964; x-ray astronomy in the 1970s; High Energy Astronomy Observatory program; possible evidence for a closed universe; administration of NRL; his work on various committees (including the President's Science Advisory Committee); future programs such as the Space Shuttle and Space Telescope. Also prominently mentioned are: William W. Beeman, C. Stuart Bowyer, Werner von Braun, Gunter Bruckner, Edward T. Byram, George Carruthers, Talbot Chubb, James Franck, Riccardo Giacconi, Leo Goldberg, John Charles Hubbard, Neil Johnson, Jim Kurfess, James Van Allen; American Science and Engineering, Inc., High Energy Astronomy Observatory, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, National Academy of Sciences (U.S.), Naval Research Laboratory (U.S.), Phillips Petroleum Co., United States Office of Naval Research, V-2 (Rocket), and Washington Navy Yard.