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Sciama, D. W. (Dennis William), 1926-
Oral history interview with D. W. Sciama, 1989 January 25.
Interview covers D. W. Sciama's background of father; discouraged by father to go into science; early reading in science; early desire to be a Fellow at Trinity College; early interest in philosophy at influence of lectures by Wittenstein; switch in graduate school from statistical mechanics to cosmology; interest in Mach's principle; desire to understand the "great questions"; desire to impose order on the universe; poor grades as an undergraduate student at Cambridge; job in a government research laboratory called Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE); readmittance to Cambridge by Hartree; business agreement with father to withdraw from graduate school if unable to get research fellowship to Trinity; influence of Fred Hoyle, Herman Bondi, and Thomas Gold; rebellious nature of Hoyle, Bondi, and Gold; Dirac as thesis advisor; attraction of the steady state model; reaction to hostile evidence against the steady state theory; predictive power of the steady state theory relative to the big bang model; preference for flat universes (in big bang models) because of Mach's principle; Sciama's influence on Dicke and Wheeler regarding Mach's principle; motivation of interest in Mach's principle and its discussion in the Bondi-Gold paper on the steady state; work with Martin Rees in plotting the spatial distribution of quasars and initial intention of defending the steady state model; personality of Martin Rees; giving up the steady state model after the calculation with Rees; approach to advising students; advice given to students Brandon Carter and Stephen Hawking; general scorn of physicists toward cosmology in the 1950s; recognition of cosmology by physicists after the cosmological prediction of the number of neutrino types; introduction to and attitudes toward the horizon and flatness problems; attitude toward the inflationary universe model; problem in appreciating those problems because so few people in the field; problem with inflationary universe model having so many variations and being oversold; reasons why the inflationary universe model has been so influential; reaction to de Lapparent, Geller, and Huchra's work on large-scale inhomogeneities; problems if inhomogeneity in cosmic background radiation not found with factor of 10 improvementin detection limits; discussion of dark matter and missing mass; current state of mess of inflationary universe model; interplay of theory and observation in cosmology, particularly in the number of types of neutrinos; reasonableness of extrapolating physics back to the very early universe; outstanding problems in cosmology: the cosmological constant, fate of the universe, dark matter, galaxy formation; ideal design of the universe; belief in the strong anthropic principle; belief that Penrose and Hawking are wrong in their proposal of very special initial conditions for the universe; question of whether the universe has a point.
(1926-1999): Ph.D. from Cambridge University (1952); Fellow of Trinity (1952-1956) and a lecturer in the department of applied math and theoretical physics (1961-1970); research interests have involved theoretical studies in general relativity and cosmology, including the application of Mach's principle, early studies of the steady state model, black hole thermodynamics, and the role of particle physics in cosmology.
Bondi, Hermann
Carter, Brandon.
Dicke, Robert H. (Robert Henry)
Dirac, P. A. M. (Paul Adrien Maurice), 1902-1984
Geller, Margaret J.
Gold, Thomas
Hartree, Douglas R. (Douglas Rayner), 1897-1958
Hawking, Stephen, 1942-
Hoyle, Fred, Sir
Huchra, John P.
Penrose, Roger
Rees, Martin J., 1942-
Sciama, D. W. (Dennis William), 1926-
Wheeler, John Archibald, 1911-2008.
Telecommunications Research Establishment.
Trinity College (University of Cambridge)
University of Cambridge
Big bang theory
Cosmic background radiation
Cosmology
Dark matter (Astronomy)
Galaxies -- Formation
Inflationary universe.
Large scale structure (Astronomy)
Mach's principle.
Missing mass (Astronomy)
Quasars
Steady state cosmology.
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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