The Caltech Institute Archives

Interview with Felix H. Boehm

Boehm, Felix H. (2001) Interview with Felix H. Boehm. [Oral History]

[img] PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


An oral history interview in three sessions in 1999 with Felix Hans Boehm, Caltech Research Fellow, 1953-1958, and Professor of Physics, 1958-1995 (emeritus 1995- ). Born in Basel, Switzerland, and educated at the University of Geneva and the ETH (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule) in Zurich (diploma, 1948; PhD, 1951, in physics), Boehm recounts first coming to the US to Columbia University in 1952 to work in nuclear physics under C. S. Wu. In July 1953 he arrives at Caltech as postdoc; associations with physicists J. DuMond in Bridge Laboratory and C. C. Lauritsen and the Kellogg Lab group. Experimental work in 1950s and 1960s on aspects of nuclear structure and particle behavior, especially parity violation. Interaction with R. Feynman and M. Gell-Mann on parity violation in nonleptonic processes. He takes leave to Europe: Heidelberg 1957-58 and Copenhagen 1965-1966; meets R. Mössbauer and helps bring him to Caltech (1960-1964), where he receives Nobel Prize (1961). Reminiscences of Niels Bohr. At Caltech begins collaboration with P. Vogel (1970); developing interest in neutrino oscillations; neutrino mass and search for dark matter. Visits to Aspen Center for Physics; collaborations with French (Laue Langevin Institute, Grenoble) and Swiss scientists (Paul Scherrer Institute, Zurich) on neutrino detection; experiment set up in Gotthard Tunnel. Work at Caltech on double beta decay; building of time-projection chamber (TPC); attempts to set up neutrino detector near San Onofre nuclear plant scuttled by environmentalists; lab eventually built in Palo Verde, Arizona. Comments on Caltech presidents and future of Caltech.

Item Type:Oral History
Keywords:Physics; nuclear physics
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Boehm_F
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Boehm, Felix H. Interview by Shirley K. Cohen. Pasadena, California, January-February 1999. Oral History Project, California Institute of Technology Archives. Retrieved [supply date of retrieval] from the World Wide Web:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
Subjects:Subjects > Physics
All Records
Subjects > Astronomy
ID Code:115
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:10 Jan 2006
Last Modified:01 Jun 2021 20:32

Repository Staff Only: item control page