Are You Certain Heisenberg Said That?

With so many people misrepresenting what physicists say here on Science Blog and elsewhere on the net, I decided to reproduce a news release I got from the Center for the History of Physics of the American Institute of Physics. Its title: “Online Archive of Legendary Physicists in Their Own Words.”

What follows is a direct reproduction of that release. Enjoy!

Fred Bortz, author of Physics: Decade by Decade (Facts On File, Twentieth-Century Science reference set, 2007)

Online Archive of Legendary Physicists in Their Own Words
American Institute of Physics offers free, searchable archive of more
than 400 interviews for writers, scholars, and teachers


For more information:
Julie Gass
American Institute of Physics
[email protected]

College Park, MD (July 20, 2009) — A free online archive of hundreds
of historical interviews with the 20th century’s greatest physicists has
now been launched to aid the research of science writers, academic
scholars, teachers, and students. The resource, created by the American
Institute of Physics’ Niels Bohr Library & Archives, contains both
written transcripts and audio recordings of oral histories that date
back fifty years. This archive draws on four decades of interviews
conducted by the staff of AIP’s Center for History of Physics.

Want to know how cosmologist George Gamow felt about the term “big
bang,” the coining of which is commonly attributed to him? “I don’t like
the word ‘big bang.’ I never call it ‘big bang,’ because it is kind of
cliché,” he said in a 1968 interview available as an online sound clip.
The complete transcript of the interview, along with audio clips, is
available online. See:

The catalog contains a total of more than 3,000 hours of audio
recordings from 1,500 physicists and astronomers. Online transcripts of
these interviews are arranged alphabetically by name — from space
physicist Jules Aaron to Manhattan Project member Herbert York — and
can also be accessed through the site’s search engine. Researchers
looking into a particular field such as quantum physics or science
education can also search by topic.

“The archive includes interviews with the founders of quantum physics
and quantum mechanics like Niels Bohr, Dirac, and Heisenberg …
virtually all of the major figures who were still alive in 1960s,” said
Joe Anderson, director of the Niels Bohr Library & Archives. Other
topics that are covered extensively include nuclear and solid state
physics, laser science, modern astrophysics and astronomy, and
industrial physics.

Select sound clips from the oral histories, featuring the voices of the
scientists themselves, are also offered on the site. The complete
recordings are available by request at the library itself, which also
holds a collection of over 30,000 historical photographs, as well as an
extensive catalog of books and manuscripts.

The online archive and Web site are made possible by a two-year grant
from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Relevant links:

Main Oral History Site:

Search Form:

Niels Bohr Library & Archives:


About the Niels Bohr Library & Archives

The Niels Bohr Library & Archives and the Center for History of Physics
are part of the American Institute of Physics with the mission to help
preserve and make known the history of modern physics and allied
The Library & Archives is housed in a specially designed,
environmentally-controlled space in the American Center for Physics in
College Park, MD. In-house holdings include an outstanding collection of
textbooks, monographs, biographies, and related publications, dating
mostly from ca. 1850-1950; over 30,000 photographs and other images;
approximately 1,000 oral histories with many of the outstanding figures
in the covered fields; and archival records of AIP and its Member
Societies along with other archival records and personal papers of a
select number of scientists. All are indexed online.

The Niels Bohr Library & Archives was created through the generosity of
Dannie Heineman, and is sustained by the general funds of the American
Institute of Physics and by tax-deductible donations to the Friends of
the Center for History of Physics and its Endowment Fund.

About the American Institute of Physics

American Institute of Physics is a federation of 10 physical science
societies representing more than 135,000 scientists, engineers, and
educators and is one of the world’s largest publishers of scientific
information in physics. Offering full-solution publishing services for
scientific societies and for similar organizations in science and
engineering, AIP pursues innovation in electronic publishing of
scholarly journals. AIP publishes 12 journals (some of which are the
most highly cited in their respective fields); two magazines, including
its flagship publication Physics Today; and the AIP Conference
Proceedings. Its online publishing platform Scitation hosts nearly two
million articles from more than 185 scholarly journals and other
publications of 28 learned society publishers.

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