Oral history interview with Willard Frank Libby, 1979 April 12 and 16.


Oral history interview with Willard Frank Libby, 1979 April 12 and 16.

Early life and education; undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate years, 1927-1940 at the University of California, Berkeley. Growth of Berkeley science; Gilbert Lewis, Wendell Latimer and Ernest Lawrence; development of low-level counters; radiochemistry and discovery of isotopes; cross-disciplinary collaboration; interest in carbon-14; association with Samuel Ruben and Martin Kamen; hot atom chemistry and nuclear isomerism; experiences at Princeton University (hot atom chemistry, development of heterogenous catalysis and research on tritium), 1940-1941; work on the chemistry of the diffusion process during World War II at Columbia University (Manhattan Project). Development of the radiocarbon dating technique at the University of Chicago, 1945-1954; measurement of half-life of carbon-14; Harold Urey's importance to Libby; secrecy policy; collaboration with Aristid von Grosse, James Arnold and Ernest Anderson; improved counting technologies; first contacts with archaeologists; Viking Fund and cross-disciplinary collaboration; communicating ideas; Sunshine Project and fallout; AEC appointment; concluding remarks. Also prominently mentioned are: Samuel K. Allison, C.H. Currier, Karl Kelchner Darrow, Felix Ehrenhaft, R.W. Emerson, Enrico Fermi, Leslie Richard Groves, Douglas Rayner Hartree, Robert Hutchins, Immanuel Kant, Serge Korff, Robert Bruce Lindsay, Theodore Lyman, Henry Margenau, McKeehan, Karl Pearson, Henri. Poincaré, D. Richardson, Ernest Rutherford, Leo Schubert, H.S. Uhler, Arthur Gordon Webster, L.P. Wheeler, Norbert Wiener, Anthony Zeleny; American Physical Society, Harvard University, Institute for Theoretical Physics (Copenhagen), Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Niels Bohr Institutet, Process Corporation, University of California, Berkeley Dept. of Physics, University of California, Los Angeles, University of Chicago Institute for Nuclear Studies, Viking Fund, and Windermere Hotel.

Sound recordings: 3 sound cassettes (ca. 3.0 hr.), 2 sessions.Transcript: 50 p.


SNAC Resource ID: 8271656

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