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Interview with Seth H. Neddermeyer

Neddermeyer, Seth (2012) Interview with Seth H. Neddermeyer. [Oral History]

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An interview in May 1984 with Seth Neddermeyer, emeritus professor of physics at the University of Washington, in Seattle. After receiving a BA from Stanford in 1929, Dr. Neddermeyer took his PhD at Caltech in 1935 with Carl D. Anderson. With Anderson, he discovered the muon, an unstable negatively charged elementary particle, in 1936. During World War II, he worked on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, where he proposed using implosion to compress radioactive material to a critical mass in order to make a workable bomb. For these two accomplishments, he would receive the 1982 Enrico Fermi Award. After the war, he went to the University of Washington, where this interview took place four years before his death. In the interview, he describes his early education in his hometown of Richmond, Michigan; his first two years of undergraduate education at Olivet College and his interest in chemistry; his two years at Stanford; and his years at Caltech (1930-1941) as a graduate student, then a research fellow, working with Anderson. He offers recollections of Robert Andrews Millikan, whose interest in cosmic rays was closely bound to the work he and Anderson were doing; of Fritz Zwicky, Richard C. Tolman, and Harry Bateman; and of J. Robert Oppenheimer, both at Los Alamos and at Caltech, where he was a visiting professor in the spring term in the 1930s. He recalls receiving the Fermi award and discusses his negative feelings about his work on the atomic bomb.

Item Type:Oral History
Keywords:Physics, nuclear physics, particle physics
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Neddermeyer_S
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Neddermeyer, Seth H. Interview by John L. Greenberg. Pasadena, California, May 7, 1984. 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
ID Code:199
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:28 Mar 2012 23:55
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 15:23

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