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It's a very stimulating atmosphere, certainly not the desert that I thought surrounded Ithica when I first came here.

[Q] And just to complete that picture, before we come to another facet of the late '30s, you now have how many students doing PhDs for you by the '37, '38?

I think three. At least three I remember. Meiers, Baroodi and van der Lage.

[Q] And then the two postdocs.

And the two postdocs.

[Q] And you teach of the order of three to four courses a year.

Yes.

[Q] And summers are... You should say one thing about summers.

Well in the summer of '36 and '38 I went to the summer school at Ann Arbor, which was a great institution. It brought together many guest lecturers. Fermi was there at one time, not simultaneous with me. I think Breit was there at the same time as I. Ewald was there together with me in '38, and there was a stimulating group of theorists at Michigan: Uhlenbeck and Goudsmit and...

[Q] Laporte...

Laporte and Colby.

The late German-American physicist Hans Bethe once described himself as the H-bomb's midwife. He left Nazi Germany in 1933, after which he helped develop the first atomic bomb, won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1967 for his contribution to the theory of nuclear reactions, advocated tighter controls over nuclear weapons and campaigned vigorously for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Listeners: Sam Schweber

Silvan Sam Schweber is the Koret Professor of the History of Ideas and Professor of Physics at Brandeis University, and a Faculty Associate in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University. He is the author of a history of the development of quantum electro mechanics, "QED and the men who made it", and has recently completed a biography of Hans Bethe and the history of nuclear weapons development, "In the Shadow of the Bomb: Oppenheimer, Bethe, and the Moral Responsibility of the Scientist" (Princeton University Press, 2000).

Tags: Ithica, Cornell University, Ann Arbor, Gregory Breit, Enrico Fermi, Paul Ewald, George Uhlenbeck, Samuel Goudsmit, Otto Laporte, Walter F. Colby

Duration: 1 minute, 54 seconds

Date story recorded: December 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008