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Schmidt, Maarten
Oral history interview with Maarten Schmidt, 1988 March 28.
Interview discusses Maarten Schmidt's family background; influence of uncle in early interest in astronomy and construction of first telescope in 1942; discussions between Schmidt's father and Adriaan Blaauw about the possibility of a career in astronomy; copying tables of astronomical data as a boy; early work on galaxies and mass models for galaxies; university education and influence of Blaauw, Jan Oort and M. G. J. Minnaert; work as a Carnegie Fellow on optical structure of open clusters; work at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) on helum abundance in HII regions; history of discovery of quasars; learning about cosmology from Allan Sandage; work with the 200-inch telescope; early desire to measure large red shifts; interest in problems with only a limited number of facts and degrees of freedom; introduction to and attitude toward the horizon problem; attitude toward the inflationary universe model; Schmidt's conception of himself as an observer and not as a theorist; attitude toward invoking initial conditions to solve cosmological problems; more discussion of the inflationary universe model and reasons why the community has embraced it; introduction to and attitude toward the flatness problem; reaction to de Lapparent, Geller, and Huchra's work and Haynes and Giovanelli's work on large-scale inhomogeneities; possible overinterpretation of data; value of being puzzled in astronomy and Schmidt's wonder why people are unhappy when they are puzzled and confused; visualization in cosmology; interplay of theory and observation in cosmology; astronomy as a passive science (as opposed to physics, for example); outstanding problems in cosmology: time scale and distance scale of the universe, horizon problem, large-scale motions and peculiar velocities; ideal design of the universe; question of whether the universe has a point.
(1929- ): Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Leiden (1956); worked at Leiden Observatory; joined the astronomy department at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech); member of the American Astronomical Society (AAS); early research involved the structure, dynamics and evolution of the galaxy; later work concentrated on the cosmic distribution of quasars and on statistical properties of extragalactic X-ray sources.
Blaauw, Adriaan.
Geller, Margaret J.
Giovanelli, Riccardo
Haynes, Martha
Huchra, John P.
Minnaert, M. G. J. (Marcel Gilles Jozef), 1893-1970.
Oort, Jan Hendrik.
Sandage, Allan
Schmidt, Maarten
California Institute of Technology
Astronomy
Cosmology
Galaxies
Inflationary universe.
Large scale structure (Astronomy)
Quasars
Red shift
Stars -- Open clusters.
Telescope, 200-inch.
Interviews. aat
Oral histories. aat
Transcripts. aat
Lightman, Alan P., 1948-, interviewer.
AIP-ICOS
American Institute of Physics. Niels Bohr Library & Archives. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA
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