University of Chicago. Institute for Nuclear Studies

Interviewed by
Karen Fleckenstein
Interview date

Early contacts with Maria Goeppert Mayer, collaborations with her on uranium explosives for Los Alamos at Columbia University and on stability of neutrons at University of Chicago Nuclear Institute, reflections on meeting with Joseph Mayer while she was terminally ill. Also prominently mentioned is: University of California at San Diego.

Interviewed by
Lillian Hoddeson
Interview dates
March 31 and June 5, 1981
University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Education, decision to go into physics. Environment at the University of California, Berkeley in early 1950s, especially Charles Kittel's group; Charles Overhauser, et. al. At Berkeley as a graduate student after Charles Kittel's arrival, 1950, Kittel's development of the department (after the loyalty oath); focus on solid state physics, mainly resonance physics (ferromagnetic resonance, cyclotron resonance); University of Chicago and Berkeley relationship. Cohen at Chicago's Institute for the Study of Metals, from 1952. Discussion of the established Institutes for Basic Research: Institute for Nuclear Studies (Enrico Fermi); Institute for the Study of Metals (Cyril Smith, Andy Lawson, Stuart Rice); Low Temperature Laboratory (Earl Long). Contributions in resonance physics, semiconductor physics (Kittel, Cohen, Albert Overhauser, Carson D. Jeffries), superconducting alloys (Bernd T. Matthias and John Hulm); semi-metals, crystal structure, band structure; Fermi surface and Fermi theory of liquids; Clarence Zener anecdote; University of Chicago model of an interdisciplinary research institute for materials science; Lars Onsager's theory (1951) and its stimulating effect; Cohen's encounter with Brian Pippard; General Electric consultant (Walter A. Harrison, free electron model interpretation); James C. Phillip's critical point spectroscopy; Pippard and Eugene I. Blount "missed" the Fermi theory of liquids. Philosophical summarizing on declaring fields "closed," importance of young people in positions of responsibility. Also prominently mentioned are: Luis Alvarez, Chuck Barrett, Robert Dicke, Leopoldo Falicov, Arthur Kip, Lev Landau; and General Electric Company Research Laboratory.