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Interview with Don L. Anderson

Anderson, Don L. (2001) Interview with Don L. Anderson. [Oral History]

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An interview in three sessions with Don L. Anderson, Eleanor and John R. McMillan Professor of Geophysics. Integrating seismology, solid state physics and geochemistry, Anderson is recognized for his work on the origin, evolution, structure and composition of Earth and other planets. He is a member of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, and has won numerous awards including the National Medal of Science (1998), the Crafoord Prize (1998) and the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1988). Conducted by Shirley Cohen, the interview covers many aspects of Anderson's personal and professional life from his childhood onwards. Session 1 includes discussion of Anderson's education in Maryland and his early interest in geology. He reminisces about his time in the air force, including his research on the properties of polar ice, as well as his subsequent work for Chevron. Anderson also discusses the circumstances enabling him to come to Caltech and the difficult living conditions in California; he recalls his graduate work with Frank Press and reminisces about Caltech faculty, including Arden Albee, Robert Sharp, C. Hewitt Dix, Charles Richter, and Gerald Wasserburg. The second session continues with Anderson's various appointments at the institute and the culture of the Seismology Laboratory in the San Rafael hills. He discusses his work on floating anisotropic plates and other geophysical research, as well as the attempt to maintain the collegial atmosphere of the seismo lab with its move to campus. The final session includes further reminiscences of Charles Richter and Anderson's attempt to understand the Earth's mantle with respect to geochemistry and helium 3; and recent research in surface geology, bathymetry, and plate boundaries. The interview concludes with the events surrounding the Crafoord Prize and the President's medal, along with Anderson's research philosophy and the importance of Caltech seismology.

Item Type:Oral History
Keywords:Geology, seismology, geophysics
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Anderson_D
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Anderson, Don L. Interview by Shirley K. Cohen. Pasadena, California, February 24, March 10, April 13, 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 > Geology
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ID Code:136
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:21 Sep 2007
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 15:23

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