Online archive of legendary physicists in their own words
American Institute of Physics offers free, searchable archive of more than 400 interviews for writers, scholars, and teachers
Melville, NY, July 20, 2009 – A free online archive of hundreds of historical interviews with the 20th century's greatest physicists has now been launched to aid the research of science writers, academic scholars, teachers, and students. The resource, created by the American Institute of Physics' Niels Bohr Library & Archives, contains both written transcripts and audio recordings of oral histories that date back fifty years. This archive draws on four decades of interviews conducted by the staff of AIPís Center for History of Physics.
Want to know how cosmologist George Gamow felt about the term "big bang," the coining of which was commonly attributed to him? "I don't like the word 'big bang.' I never call it 'big bang,' because it is kind of cliché," he said in a 1968 interview available as an online sound clip. The complete transcript of the interview, along with audio clips, is available online. See: http://www.aip.org/history/ohilist/4325.html#excerpt2
The catalog contains a total of more than 3,000 hours of audio recordings from 1,500 physicists and astronomers. Online transcripts of these interviews are arranged alphabetically by name -- from space physicist Jules Aaron to Manhattan Project member Herbert York -- and can also be accessed through the site's search engine. Researchers looking into a particular field such as quantum physics or science education can also search by topic.
"The archive includes interviews with the founders of quantum physics and quantum mechanics like Niels Bohr, Dirac, and Heisenberg ... virtually all of the major figures who were still alive in 1960s," said Joe Anderson, director of the Niels Bohr Library & Archives. Other topics that are covered extensively include nuclear and solid state physics, laser science, modern astrophysics and astronomy, and industrial physics.
Select sound clips from the oral histories, featuring the voices of the scientists themselves, are also offered on the site. The complete recordings are available by request at the library itself, which also holds a collection of over 30,000 historical photographs, as well as a catalog of thousands of books and manuscripts.
The online archive and web site are made possible by a two-year grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Main Oral History Site: http://www.aip.org/history/nbl/oralhistory.html
About the Niels Bohr Library & Archives
The Niels Bohr Library & Archives and the Center for History of Physics are part of the American Institute of Physics with the mission to help preserve and make known the history of modern physics and allied sciences.
The Library & Archives is housed in a specially designed, environmentally-controlled space in the American Center for Physics in College Park, MD. In-house holdings include an outstanding collection of textbooks, monographs, biographies, and related publications, dating mostly from ca. 1850Ė1950; over 30,000 photographs and other images; approximately 1,000 oral histories with many of the outstanding figures in the covered fields; and archival records of AIP and its Member Societies along with other archival records and personal papers of a select number of scientists. All are indexed online.
The Niels Bohr Library & Archives was created through the generosity of Dannie Heineman, and is sustained by the general funds of the American Institute of Physics and by tax-deductible donations to the Friends of the Center for History of Physics and its Endowment Fund.
About the American Institute of Physics
American Institute of Physics is a federation of 10 physical science societies representing more than 135,000 scientists, engineers, and educators and is one of the world's largest publishers of scientific information in physics. Offering full-solution publishing services for scientific societies and for similar organizations in science and engineering, AIP pursues innovation in electronic publishing of scholarly journals. AIP publishes 12 journals (some of which are the most highly cited in their respective fields); two magazines, including its flagship publication Physics Today; and the AIP Conference Proceedings. Its online publishing platform Scitation hosts nearly two million articles from more than 185 scholarly journals and other publications of 28 learned society publishers.
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