Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences

Interviewed by
Finn Aaserud
Interview date
Santa Ynez, California

Family background; education at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institution, New York University (Richard Courant); works as engineer at Republic Aviation while a graduate student in mathematics at Institute of Mathematics and Mechanics; Ph.D. thesis on rolling up of von Karman vortex sheet (Kurt Otto Friedrichs). To Convair, 1954; Atlas development program (Hans Friedrich); origins of the University of California, San Diego; moved up to General Dynamics Research & Development division, 1958; organizing and filming the Convair Lecture Series (von Karman, George Gamow). Enters government committee work (von Karman, Courant); transition to Department of Defense; the Kennedy administration (Robert McNamara, Herbert York, Harold Brown); member of the President’s Science Advisory Committee (PSAC). Takes position as vice-president at North American Aviation; leaves as a result of Bobby Baker scandal, 1964. Starts non-defense division of Rand Corporation. Commercial contact with scientists in Soviet Union. Defense Science Board Task Force on High-Energy Lasers. Project 137 (Eugene Wigner, John Wheeler, Oscar Morgenstern, Marvin Goldberger); Project Bassoon (Nick Christofilos); A. G. Hill, James McCormack; origins of JASON (Charles Townes, Goldberger).