|SPENCER R. WEART|
Director of the Center for History of Physics
Submit your concerns and questions to Spencer R. Weart.
SPENCER R. WEART is Director of the Center for History of Physics of the American Institute of Physics in College Park, Maryland, USA. Originally trained as a physicist, he is now a noted historian of science specializing in the history of modern physics.
Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1942, he received a B.A. in Physics at Cornell University in 1963 and a Ph.D. in Physics and Astrophysics at the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1968. He then worked for three years at the California Institute of Technology, supported as a Fellow of the Mount Wilson and Palomar Observatories. At Caltech he taught physics, did research on the sun's atmosphere and on ground- based and space-based telescope instrumentation, and pub- lished a number of papers in leading scientific journals.
In 1971 Dr. Weart changed his field, enrolling as a graduate student in the History Department of the University of California, Berkeley. Alongside his studies he worked as a Research Associate Historian, producing two books: "Physics circa 1900: Personnel, Funding, and Productivity of the Academic Establishments" (with Paul Forman and John L. Heil- bron) and "Leo Szilard: His Version of the Facts" (edited with Gertrud Weiss Szilard).
In 1974 Dr. Weart entered his current position directing the AIP Center for History of Physics, the oldest and largest institution dedicated to preserving and making known the history of a scientific discipline. Among his tasks have been conducting and supervising tape-recorded oral history interviews of prominent scientists; helping to preserve documentation in archives; and aiding other scholars, along with administration and fund-raising. He has been closely involved with major projects preserving the history of modern astronomy, high-energy physics, lasers, geophysics, and solid-state physics, among other fields. The most recent book stemming from this work is "Out of the Crystal Maze: Chapters from the History of Solid-State Physics" (co- editor and author with Lillian Hoddeson, Ernst Braun and Jorgen Teichmann).
During the same years he has produced numerous historical articles and books, including two major scholarly works: "Scientists in Power", a thorough history of the initial development of nuclear science, weapons, and reactors in France (with implications for the world-wide rise of nuclear technology), and "Nuclear Fear: A History of Images." The New York Times Book Review," in a front-page review, called the latter "an intellectual treat... a true history of our age... a cutting, indispensable, deeply troubling book." Since completing this he has been working on the history of peacekeeping between republics; he published an article on the subject in the Journal of Peace Research in 1994 and has a book near completion. Currently he is working on the history of the scientific and popular understanding of global warming.
Dr. Weart has also carried out a variety of educational projects, including two science books for children, a film on the solar atmosphere, an audio-visual package dramatizing the nature of scientific discovery, and a widely distributed exhibit on Albert Einstein, now available on the World Wide Web (http://www.aip.org/history). He has taught undergraduate and graduate courses on history of science at The Johns Hopkins University, the Eugene Lang College of the New School in New York City, and Princeton University. Meanwhile he has given many public talks before university, industrial, and other audiences, as well as appearing on radio and television talk shows.
Dr. Weart lives in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, with his wife, a retailer of women's clothing, and their two children.