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The origins of nuclear astrophysics at Caltech

Greenberg, John L. and Goodstein, Judith R. (1983) The origins of nuclear astrophysics at Caltech. Humanities Working Paper, 97. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA.

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Shortly before the start of World War II, several theoretical physicists, including Hans Bethe and Carl von Weizsacker, advanced the idea that the sun derives it energy from nuclear reactions within its core. C. C. Lauritsen and William Fowler, nuclear physicists at Caltech's Kellogg Laboratory, were among the first experimentalists to appreciate the application of nuclear physics to stellar interiors. Post-war strategies for studying nuclear processes in the stars included an innovative series of unofficial, weekly seminars with Mt. Wilson astronomers at director Ira Bowen's house, the testing of Bethe's carbon cycle in Kellogg, and the collaboration with a diverse group of scientists ranging from cosmologist Fred Hoyle to astronomers Margaret and Geoffrey Burbidge. The events leading up to the publication of the 1957 paper by Fowler, Hoyle, Burbidge, and Burbidge, in The Reviews of Modern Physics, now regarded as a watershed in the history of nuclear astrophysics, are discussed. For his work in low-energy nuclear astrophysics, Fowler won the 1983 Nobel Prize in physics.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
Additional Information:Paper prepared for the History of Science Annual Meeting, Norwalk, October 29, 1983
Group:Humanities Working Papers
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Haynes FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Series Name:Humanities Working Paper
Issue or Number:97
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20091021-103101222
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Greenberg, John L., and Goodstein, Judith R. The origins of nuclear astrophysics at Caltech. Pasadena, CA: California Institute of Technology, 1983. Humanities Working Paper, No. 97.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:16423
Deposited By: Lindsay Cleary
Deposited On:26 Oct 2009 16:48
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 01:11

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