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Choosing to work with Gregory Breit


First job: University of North Carolina
John Wheeler Scientist
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Well, I suspect that I was guided by that philosophy of Theodore Roosevelt; Do what you can with what you have, where you are. And I felt there must be some way to get a job. And I could recall writing from Denmark on a little battered typewriter I had, letter after letter to this or that chairman of this or that physics department, asking for a possible position. And none of them worked out. The position that I finally ended up with came as a result of having given a talk in Washington at the American Physical Society meeting one year. And it had attracted the attention of the new Head of the Physics Department of the University of North Carolina, Arthur Ruark. And Ruark asked me to come there as an assistant professor, after I had finished in Copenhagen. Well, that was quite something, for Janette to be willing to marry me. She was teaching at the Rye Country Day School, or had been teaching, at $2,500 a year, and I was going to get $2,300.00 a year. Why give up more for less? But she was willing to do 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: 1 minute, 40 seconds

Date story recorded: December 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008