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The Delayed Choice experiment


1976: decision to leave Princeton for the University of Texas
John Wheeler Scientist
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Why did I go to the University of Texas? My colleague, George Sudarshan, from Texas was with me at a conference in Brussels, the Solvay Congress, shortly before that time and he said they were looking for getting another person there at Texas and would I be interested, and I knew that at Princeton there was a retirement age beyond which one did not teach, and if one didn't teach, then how could I ever learn anything? So I was very interested in this idea of Texas and went out to Texas for a visit and found the department lively and attractive, and I accepted after discussing with Janette. It gave me a chance to go on and keep teaching. I stopped teaching at age seventy-five because I thought it was a bit disgraceful for students to have to listen to somebody that ancient, but also I had had open heart surgery and I thought I could start again. And then the most important factor was that my wife and I had been very poor parents. We had never succeeded in teaching our children that there is any such place as Texas. In eleven years, not one of them had settled there, and we decided that if the mountain was not going to move to Mohammed, Mohammed would have to move to the mountain. We moved back east where our children were settled. But those eleven years in Texas were a great treat. I sympathize with the view that somebody once expressed, that if this country gets into trouble again it'll be Texas that will save it.

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: 2 minutes, 48 seconds

Date story recorded: December 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008