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Oral history interview with J. Lamar Worzel [electronic resource], 1996

Creator: Worzel, J. Lamar 1919-2008
Project: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory oral history collection.
(see all project interviews)
Phys. Desc. :sound file : digital preservation master, WAV files (96 kHz, 24 bit)
Location: Columbia Center for Oral History
Full CLIO record >>

Biographical Note

Geophysicist. Professor of geophysics, Columbia University, 1950-1972; assistant director, Lamont Geophysical Observatory, 1951-1962 and associate director, 1963-1972; professor of Geophysics and director, Earth & Planetary Science Division, Marine Biomedical Institution, University of Texas, Galveston, from 1972-1979.

Scope and Contents

Recollections of childhood in New York; father's interest in science and literature; recollection of upbringing during the Great Depression; high school science courses; attending Lehigh University as undergraduate; impressions of W. Maurice Ewing as physics professor at Lehigh, early 1930s, detailed recollections of work as student assistant with Ewing and Alvyn Vine on refraction seismology, and impressions of George P. Woollard, Richard M. Field, William Bowie; impressions of science teaching at Lehigh. Recollections of research on undersea acoustics at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Ewing's mathematical abilities; research trips on the Atlantis, Vema, and Conrad; impressions of Felix A. Vening-Meinesz and of field research. Extended recollections of summer research with Ewing involving seismic profiling and underwater photography; recollections of hurricane of 1938 at Woods Hole; involvement in wartime research, including acoustics studies and experience with bathythermographs; experience in equipment design and modification including award of patents. Recollections of undersea photography in the early 1940s, impressions of Ewing's appointment at Columbia University, and transfer of research program to Columbia in 1946; post-war researach program at Woods Hole; financial problems at Columbia; impressions of graduate courses in geology and geophysics at Columbia including seminars taught by Walter Bucher, Marshall Kay, and Ewing; becomes consultant to the Office of Naval Research. Recollections of Angelo Ludas and his role in fashioning geophysical instruments; recollection of Nelson Steenland, J.W. Smith, Henry Kohler and John F. Hennion; experience with deep-sea coring, impressions of relations between geophysicists and geologist at Columbia. Impressions of the founding and initial research programs of Lamont Geological Observatory (LGO), including geochemical and radiocarbon studies by J. Laurence Kulp and reactions of local townspeople to Lamont; social life at LGO; relations between Ewing and Harry H. Hess; gravity research of ocean floor, and impressions of isostacy debate in 1930s; growth of LGO in 1950s and changing relations between research groups; comparison of LGO with competing research centers in the U. S. and Great Britain; obtaining the first satellite navigation system circa 1961 from the Navy; helping the U.S. Navy develop low frequency radar for submarine detection; recollections of gravity research program at Texas, mid-1970s.


Access Conditions

Copyright by the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, 1998

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