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Interview with William A. Fowler

Fowler, William A. (1986) Interview with William A. Fowler. [Oral History]

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Interview conducted in eight sessions between May 1983 and May 1984 with Willy Fowler, Nobel laureate and Institute Professor of Physics, emeritus. In a career in nuclear physics and nuclear astrophysics that spanned more that sixty years, Fowler was primarily concerned with nucleosynthesis--that is, the creation of the heavy elements by the fusion of the nuclei of lighter elements. In 1957, with Fred Hoyle and Geoffrey and Margaret Burbidge, Fowler coauthored the seminal paper "Synthesis of the Elements in the Stars," now known as B2FH. In it, they showed that all the elements from carbon to uranium could be produced by nuclear processes in stars starting only with the light elements produced in the Big Bang. In the interview, Fowler discusses his early education as a physicist at Ohio State; his work with Charles C. and Tommy Lauritsen at Caltech's Kellogg Radiation Laboratory; the history of nuclear physics and nuclear astrophysics at Caltech; and the evolution of nucleosynthesis. There are recollections of many of his mentors and colleagues, including Robert A. Millikan, Hans Bethe, J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Lauritsens, Fred Hoyle, the Burbidges, Jesse Greenstein, A. G. W. Cameron, Richard P. Feynman, and H. P. Robertson. A 1986 Supplement contains an interview on Fowler's work for the Naval Bureau of Ordnance and the Manhattan Project during the Second World War.

Item Type:Oral History
Additional Information:A shortened version of this interview is published as Parts I and II of "A Conversation with William A. Fowler" in Physics in Perspective, 7 (2005), 66-106, 165-203.
Keywords:Nuclear physics, Astrophysics, Caltech
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Fowler_W
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Official Citation:Fowler, William. Interview by John Greenberg and Carol Bugé. Pasadena, California, May 3, 1983-May 31, 1984; October 3, 1986. 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 > Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Subjects > Astronomy
ID Code:94
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:07 Jul 2005
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 15:23

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