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Interview with Steven C. Frautschi

Frautschi, Steven C. (2006) Interview with Steven C. Frautschi. [Oral History]

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An interview in two sessions with Steven C. Frautschi, professor of theoretical physics in the Division of Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy. Dr. Frautschi discusses his family background and his early years in Madison, Wisconsin. He recalls matriculating, age 16, at Harvard, where his advisor was J. H. van Vleck; graduating in 1954 with an AB in physics, entering Stanford after a year spent bicycling around Europe on a Harvard traveling fellowship. At Stanford, under Sidney Drell, he and James Bjorken worked out the theory for an experiment being conducted by Nobel laureate Burton Richter. After receiving his PhD in 1958 he spent a postdoctoral year at Hideki Yukawa's Institute for Theoretical Physics in Kyoto, followed by a two-year postdoctoral stint at UC Berkeley, where he worked with Geoffrey Chew on Chew's "bootstrap" theory of strongly interacting particles and with Stanley Mandelstam on Regge poles. To Cornell in 1961. Invited to Caltech by Murray Gell-Mann; 1962 paper with Gell-Mann and Fred Zachariasen on Regge poles. Joins Caltech faculty as an assistant professor in the fall of 1962. Comments on the teaching of physics at Caltech in the early sixties; Gell-Mann and Richard P. Feynman; Gell-Mann's interest in linguistics. Discusses his "statistical bootstrap" theory of the early 1970s for newly discovered strongly interacting particles. Discusses his 1982 paper in Science on the entropy of the observable universe. Discusses his work for The Mechanical Universe television project. Nine years as executive officer for physics, beginning in 1988; comments on the physics core curriculum and "take-home" labs. Comments on his work as master of student houses beginning in 1997, on the gradual "professionalization" of student affairs, and on his encouragement of the performing arts at Caltech.

Item Type:Oral History
Keywords:physics, strongly interacting particles
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Frautschi_S
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Frautschi, Steven C. Interview by Shirley K. Cohen. Pasadena, California, June 17 and 20, 2003. 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
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ID Code:120
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:28 Aug 2006
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 15:23

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