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Early introduction to algebra and letters

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The first school I went to was in Washington, during World War I, with my grandparents, on my mother's side. And I remember their discomfort with the idea of everybody being required to take the oath of allegiance. They were not opposed to allegiance but they disliked the idea of swearing to anything. It sounded too much like a religion. Did that result in your declining to pledge to the flag? I did not get to the point, as I remember right, of declining to take the oath of allegiance, but I remember their discomfort with it. And discomfort later with any required tests.

John Wheeler, one of the world's most influential physicists, is best known for coining the term 'black holes', for his seminal contributions to the theories of quantum gravity and nuclear fission, as well as for his mind-stretching theories and writings on time, space and gravity.

Listeners: Ken Ford

Ken Ford took his Ph.D. at Princeton in 1953 and worked with Wheeler on a number of research projects, including research for the Hydrogen bomb. He was Professor of Physics at the University of California and Director of the American Institute of Physicists. He collaborated with John Wheeler in the writing of Wheeler's autobiography, 'Geons, Black Holes and Quantum Foam: A Life in Physics' (1998).

Duration: 1 minute, 14 seconds

Date story recorded: December 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008