Oral history interview with Ralph Alpher and a joint interview with Robert Herman, 1983 August 11 and 12.


Oral history interview with Ralph Alpher and a joint interview with Robert Herman, 1983 August 11 and 12.

Ralph Asher Alpher (1921- ). Session two is a joint interview with Robert Herman. Family background and early education, work at Carnegie Institution's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, studies at George Washington University, wartime employment and studies, work with Navy on detection of mines; graduate studies with George Gamow while working at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, early universe theory, first encounter and later work with Robert Herman, interaction with physics community. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar and L. R. Henrich, neglect of Alpher and Herman work by astronomical community; General Electric projects: supersonic flow, re-entry physics, the Talaria project; the Penzias/Wilson observations; honors, marriage. Miscellaneous recollections about youth in Washington, D.C., service on scientific committees, public education efforts, work at General Electric. Meeting of Alpher and Herman, their collaboration, cosmological theory, work with George Gamow, Edward Teller, Hans Bethe, Edward Condon, cosmic background radiation, controversy with steady-state adherents and others; systematic neglect of their work, nucleosynthesis in stars, reactions to awards, discussions with Arno A. Penzias at the time of Nobel Prize award (with Robert W. Wilson), correspondence with S. Pasternack about P. James Peeble's cosmology papers, Alpher paper on neutrino and photon background calculation, James Follin, C. Hayashi, Steven Weinberg's presentation in his book The First Three Minutes; current cosmological efforts, A. Zee's papers on cosmology, views on the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, Fred Hoyle's recent writings. Also prominently mentioned are: Niels Henrik David Bohr, Albert Einstein, Richard Phillips Feynman, Lawrence Randolph Hafstad, Robert Hofstadter, Huntington, and H. P. Robertson.

Sound recordings: 4 sound cassettes, 2 sessions.Transcript: 138 p.

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