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Calculus and cousin Archibald


Boyhood books
John Wheeler Scientist
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In the- among the books on the farm in Vermont was not only this book of 'Ingenious Mechanisms and Mechanical Devices', but a book of the British writer and scientist, J. Arthur Thomson, called 'An Outline of Science'. And what fascinated me most there was the story about how electricity could flow from one place to another, and how the electron was essential in it. But then, there were two other books. Can I remember now what they were..? Did you grow up in a house full of books in general? A house full of books. And my father was accustomed to bring home from the library that he directed, new books, in order to look them over for possible purchase by the various branches of the library. And he'd bring my mother into the discussion. Sometimes the discussion was not about the attractiveness of the book but whether it should be permitted in the library, whether it was morally allowable. So I got to see quite a variety of books. But they showed no particular concern about my reading some of these books of questionable character.

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, 50 seconds

Date story recorded: December 1996

Date story went live: 24 January 2008