American Institute of Physics
One Physics Ellipse
College Park, Maryland 20740-3843
2 sessions, audiotape, 4 cassettes. Preliminary transcript.
Interview conducted by William Smith, 18 and 20 June 1979. Childhood and youth; his family life and siblings; education at Furman during the Depression, 1931-1935; merit scholarship. Graduate study at Duke University in 1936; shifts to Caltech during second year; early interest in astronomy; works with Fred Zwicky. His first job, at Bell Telephone Laboratories, from 1939-1947; scientific associates (Dean Wooldridge, William Shockley). Discussion of work on microwave spectroscopy, and NH3 spectrum; competition with Bleaney and Good. Accepts I. I. Rabi's offer to join Columbia University faculty in 1948. Interest in molecules, atoms (not solid state physics), and in short microwaves; comments on teaching, students, and faculty; department head from 1952-1955. Inventions of the maser and laser in the 1950s, background ideas; Treshkas' and Lamb's writings on stimulated emission. Purcell, Pound, Dicke did not think of maser; discussion of the effects contributing to the appearance of simultaneity of inventions. Masers in radioastronomy; consultantship at BTL; joint laser invention with Arthur Schawlow. Interactions with Gordon Gould; BTL's interest in the laser. Oral History Interview may not be read nor copies made without permission from the individual who was interviewed; an approved access application must also be on file.