Research Papers in Physics and Astronomy


Date of this Version

January 1960


Published in ... The New Professors, Compiled, with a Preface, by Robert O. Bowen, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., New York, 1960. Copyright © 1960 Robert O. Bowen. Electronic edition copyright © 2008 Robert Katz.


I did not discover that I had any interest in teaching or in academic life until late in my twenties, and then only through a sequence of unrelated circumstances.
I was born in 1917. My parents were Russian-Jewish immigrants who came to New York City at about the turn of the century.
At sixteen I enrolled in Brooklyn College, a recently organized, tuition-free, municipal college, then housed in rented office buildings in downtown Brooklyn. It took an hour to get to or from school on the subway. I managed to choose this inconvenient location because this school seemed most likely to accept my credentials. In 1933, I could see little point in college, and deferred making application until I could no longer withstand my father's insistence. If there was a guidance program at Brooklyn, it took no notice of me, nor I of it. I took courses as they were required, and found a sophomore required course in physics to have an amalgam of virtues. This course determined my choice of career. Today I count myself fortunate that I was not required to name a curriculum the day I entered college, that I was permitted to flounder around until I had some basis for choosing a field.

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