Peter Galison is the Joseph Pellegrino University Professor in History of Science and Physics at Harvard University. The central component of Galison’s work involves the exploration of twentieth century physics, including atomic, nuclear, and particle physics. In this interview, Galison discusses the two pillars of twentieth century physics, relativity theory and quantum physics, and how these foundational ideas played a role in the development of the atomic bomb. Galison also explains the basic principles of nuclear fission and the scaling up of this technology into a nuclear production reactor. Finally, Galison explains physics as a closely interconnected set of scientific subcultures based on experimenters, instrument makers, and theorists and how these played a significant role in the Manhattan Project.
David Kaiser is the Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is author of the award winning book “Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics,” and more recently published “How Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival.” His discussion with Atomic Heritage Foundation President, Cindy Kelly, focuses on the birth of nuclear physics and the nuclear bomb, but ranges across scientific developments in the early-to-mid 20th Century. Kelly and Kaiser also deliberate on the facets of innovation, and connect the scientific legacy of the Manhattan Project to current scientific research.