Project Apollo (U.S.)

Interviewed by
Joanna Behrman
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, Joanna Behrman, Assistant Public Historian for AIP, interviews Christopher Russell, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles. Russell describes his childhood in Britain and Canada before attending the University of Toronto as an undergraduate. He describes his initial move to the University of California, Los Angeles, for his Ph.D. with Robert Holzer and then transitioning into more permanent positions there. Russell recounts his work studying geomagnetism and the solar wind on the OGO series, Apollo program, International Sun-Earth Explorer, and Pioneer Venus Spacecraft. Russell describes the changing scientific paradigm from an Earth-centric idea of geomagnetic activity to a solar wind centric theory. He recounts his work in the collaborations for the Galileo and Cassini missions with Margaret Kivelson and David Southwood. Russell then explains the motivation behind the NASA Discovery program and how he developed the Dawn mission. He reflects on the growth of UCLA as a locus for research in planetary and space sciences. At the end of the interview, he describes the wide range and impact of the collaborations he has been a part of. 

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Peter L. Bender, Senior Research Associate at the University of Colorado and the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics (JILA) in Boulder. Bender recounts his childhood in New Jersey, he describes his undergraduate focus in math and physics at Rutgers, and he explains his decision to pursue a graduate degree in physics at Princeton to work with Bob Dicke. He discusses his dissertation research on optical pumping of sodium vapor, which was suggested by Dicke as a means of doing precision measurements of atoms. Bender discusses his postdoctoral research at the National Bureau of Standards, where he focused on magnetic fields and he narrates the administrative and national security decisions leading to the creation of JILA in Boulder, where the laboratory would be less vulnerable to nuclear attack. He describes his work on laser distance measurements to the moon and his collaborations with NASA, and he discusses his long-term advisory work for the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council. Bender describes the origins of the NASA Astrotech 21 Program and the LISA proposal, he explains his more recent interests in massive black holes, geophysics and earth science, and he explains some of the challenges associated with putting optical clocks in space. At the end of the interview, Bender reflects on the central role of lasers in his research, and he explains the intellectual overlap of his work in astrophysics and earth physics, which literally binds research that is based both in this world and beyond it.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Roald Sagdeev, professor of physics emeritus at the University of Maryland. He recounts his family’s ethnic Tatar heritage, his childhood in Kazan, and his family’s experience during World War II. Sagdeev describes his physics education at Moscow State University, and how he felt regarding the larger issues of physics and Soviet national security – especially during his time in Sarov, which was the equivalent of Los Alamos National Lab for nuclear weapons research. He discusses his work on radiation transport in stellar atmospheres, his subsequent research at the Kurchatov Institute, and his graduate research in controlled nucleosynthesis under the direction of Lev Landau. Sagdeev describes this time as the origins of his expertise in plasma physics and he explains the work he was doing at a classified site in Siberia. He explains how major Cold War events including the Cuban Missile Crisis and nuclear diplomacy affected his career and his moral satisfaction in not contributing to weapons science. Sagdeev discusses his work at the Institute of Physics of High Temperatures, and his developing interests in astrophysics, and he explains his subsequent tenure at the Space Research Institute of the Academy of Sciences, and why the American moon landing demonstrated that Russia had ceded its dominance in the Space Race. He explains why manned space missions were always more politicized than unmanned missions and describes the political value of the Soviet-US Soyuz-Apollo test project as an opportunity for “hand shaking in space.” Sagdeev discusses his experiences advising Gorbachev on disarmament negotiations, and he shares his perspective on SDI and why it was actually the Pershing missile system that contributed more to the Soviet collapse than U.S. defense spending under Reagan. He describes witnessing the end of the Cold War as watching a movie in slow motion, and he explains how he met Susan Eisenhower and the circumstances leading to his move to the United States, where he joined the faculty at the University of Maryland and served as an adviser to NASA. Sagdeev explains his current interests in intergalactic shock waves and he shares his ideas on the newly formed U.S. Space Force and the weaponizing of space. At the end of the interview, Sagdeev shares that if he could start his career all over again, he would focus on neuroscience.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Stephen Seltzer, retired from the National Institute of Standards and Technology where he was Leader of the Dosimetry Group in the Radiation Physics Division. Seltzer discusses his current interests in photoelectric cross sections and he explains why NIST supports research in radiation physics. He recounts his childhood in the Washington DC area, he describes his education at Virginia Tech and his first job at the National Bureau of Standards. Seltzer describes the advances in ionizing radiation at NIST during his junior years and the formative mentorship provided by Martin Berger and his pioneering work in radiation science and Monte Carlo calculations. He explains why Monte Carlo codes provide a solution to the Boltzmann Transport Equation and why electron transport research provides value to space exploration and how NIST contributed to proton therapies for cancer. Seltzer discusses his administrative service as leader of the Radiation Interactions and Dosimetry Group, and he explains his motivations to serve as a mentor to younger colleagues at NIST. At the end of the interview he reflects on the budgetary environment at NIST over his tenure and why young physicists should consider NIST as an excellent place to pursue a career. 

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with G. Brent Dalrymple, Dean and Professor Emeritus at Oregon State University. Dalrymple recounts his childhood in Los Angeles, and he explains how he settled on geology as a major at Occidental and the impact of the plate tectonics revolution that was happening at the time. He discusses his graduate work at Berkeley, and he recounts his field work under the direction of Garniss Curtis on potassium argon dating. Dalrymple explains his decision to join the U.S. Geological Survey after graduate school and his interest in learning more about volcanic rocks and magnetic fields in the Sierra range. He explains how this research solved the problem of continental drift and he discusses his subsequent research on the Hawaiian Island range. Dalrymple discusses his work on earthquake detection, and he describes the advances in K-Ar dating and techniques. He discusses his work on meteorite dating and the light this shed on what killed off the dinosaurs, and he describes his advisory work for the Apollo missions. Dalrymple explains how he became involved in debates with religious communities who insisted the age of the Earth was 6,000 years old and how this turned into his book The Age of the Earth. He describes how geo-dating is relevant for understanding star and galaxy formation and he discusses his tenure as president of the American Geophysical Union. Dalrymple describes what it was like to win the National Medal of Science, and he explains his decision to retire from the USGS and join the administration at Oregon State. At the end of the interview, Dalrymple describes the impact of continental drift research, and he conveys his enjoyment with life in retirement.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Teleconference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral historian for AIP, interviews Jerry C. Elliot-High Eagle, president and CEO of High Eagle Technologies. Elliot-High Eagle discusses his current work at High Eagle Technologies, where he is focused on developing blood oxygenation solutions relevant to therapies for a variety of health maladies. He recounts his childhood in Oklahoma, his Cherokee heritage, and the early visions he experienced for which he saw his involvement in the moon landing as destiny. He describes growing up poor, and the opportunities which made it possible for him to graduate from the University of Oklahoma as the first Native American to attain a degree in physics. Elliot-High Eagle describes his work in law enforcement and how he almost got drafted to go to Vietnam, and he explains the unlikely events that led to his work at NASA, where he worked over a long career in many positions, including as lead retrofire officer for the Apollo 13 mission, for which he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Elliot-High Eagle discusses the numerous difficulties he experienced at NASA as a minority. He describes the frontier mentality at NASA at the beginning of his career, when there was no precedent for anything that was being developed for the space missions. Elliot-High Eagle explains how his sense of patriotism to the United States only grew stronger in the face of the adversities he endured at NASA, and he describes some of the key differences in his work from Apollo 11 to Apollo 13. He discusses his involvement in efforts to improve telecommunications access for Native Americans, and why he was well-positioned to do this as a NASA employee. Elliot-High Eagle discusses his work on the Apollo-Soyuz mission, and he reflects on the role of space missions amid the broader Cold War competition. He describes his long-term mentoring interest in increasing educational and professional opportunities for young Native Americans, and at the end of the interview he explains how and why he has integrated his spiritual views and experiences within his professional life and pursuits in advancing science.

Interviewed by
Dan Ford
Interview date
Location
La Jolla, California
Abstract

In this interview Richard Garwin discusses topics such as: STARFISH, Bill Hess, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), thermonuclear explosions, President's Science Advisory Committee (PSAC), satellites, Soviet Union, Apollo space program, President John F. Kennedy, Carl Kaysen.This interview is part of a collection of interviews on the life and work of Richard Garwin. To see all associated interviews, click here.

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D. C.
Abstract

This interview reviews Frosch's early schooling in the New York City Public School system, his education at Columbia University and, in detail, his varied career as a physicist and a science administrator, beginning with his work as a research scientist at Hudson Laboratory and then as Assistant Director and Director of the Theoretical Division. Other topics and affiliations discussed include: Advance Research Project Agency (ARPA); United States Navy; United Nations Environmental Programme; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (administration, research and development techniques, business practices, reorganization, communication); Naval Research Laboratory (NRL); Navy Radiological Laboratory; National Academy of Sciences (NAS); Wallops Center; Dryden Flight Research Facility; Goddard Institute of Space Studies; Office of Naval Research (ONR); JASON Foundation for Education; Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA); Office of Management and Budget (OMB); SOLRAD (SOLar RADiation Satellite Program); Enterprise; Mansfield Amendment; CLOT test (combined loads orbiter test); Gamma-Ray Observatory (GRO); VELA Program; Atomic bomb; relationships between US Navy and NASA; militarization of space exploration; space exploration policy; sonar navigation; musical theory and acoustics; project management theory; satellite communication systems; underwater acoustics and modelling; remote sensing; seismology; shuttle flight testing and preparation; I.I. Rabi; Henry Foley; Charles H. Townes; Ivan Tolstoy; Frank Press; Jimmy Carter, among others.

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D. C.
Abstract

This interview reviews Frosch's early schooling in the New York City Public School system, his education at Columbia University and, in detail, his varied career as a physicist and a science administrator, beginning with his work as a research scientist at Hudson Laboratory and then as Assistant Director and Director of the Theoretical Division. Other topics and affiliations discussed include: Advance Research Project Agency (ARPA); United States Navy; United Nations Environmental Programme; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (administration, research and development techniques, business practices, reorganization, communication); Naval Research Laboratory (NRL); Navy Radiological Laboratory; National Academy of Sciences (NAS); Wallops Center; Dryden Flight Research Facility; Goddard Institute of Space Studies; Office of Naval Research (ONR); JASON Foundation for Education; Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA); Office of Management and Budget (OMB); SOLRAD (SOLar RADiation Satellite Program); Enterprise; Mansfield Amendment; CLOT test (combined loads orbiter test); Gamma-Ray Observatory (GRO); VELA Program; Atomic bomb; relationships between US Navy and NASA; militarization of space exploration; space exploration policy; sonar navigation; musical theory and acoustics; project management theory; satellite communication systems; underwater acoustics and modelling; remote sensing; seismology; shuttle flight testing and preparation; I.I. Rabi; Henry Foley; Charles H. Townes; Ivan Tolstoy; Frank Press; Jimmy Carter, among others.

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D. C.
Abstract

This interview reviews Frosch's early schooling in the New York City Public School system, his education at Columbia University and, in detail, his varied career as a physicist and a science administrator, beginning with his work as a research scientist at Hudson Laboratory and then as Assistant Director and Director of the Theoretical Division. Other topics and affiliations discussed include: Advance Research Project Agency (ARPA); United States Navy; United Nations Environmental Programme; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (administration, research and development techniques, business practices, reorganization, communication); Naval Research Laboratory (NRL); Navy Radiological Laboratory; National Academy of Sciences (NAS); Wallops Center; Dryden Flight Research Facility; Goddard Institute of Space Studies; Office of Naval Research (ONR); JASON Foundation for Education; Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA); Office of Management and Budget (OMB); SOLRAD (SOLar RADiation Satellite Program); Enterprise; Mansfield Amendment; CLOT test (combined loads orbiter test); Gamma-Ray Observatory (GRO); VELA Program; Atomic bomb; relationships between US Navy and NASA; militarization of space exploration; space exploration policy; sonar navigation; musical theory and acoustics; project management theory; satellite communication systems; underwater acoustics and modelling; remote sensing; seismology; shuttle flight testing and preparation; I.I. Rabi; Henry Foley; Charles H. Townes; Ivan Tolstoy; Frank Press; Jimmy Carter, among others.