[Heeschen 1962]
David S. Heeschen, 1962. NRAO/AUI image.


[Heeschen at VLA 10th anniversary, October 1990]
Heeschen speaking at VLA 10th anniversary celebration, October 10, 1990. (NRAO/AUI image).


[Heeschen at 140ft 30th birthday, 1995]
Heeschen at the 140ft 30th birthday, 1995. (NRAO/AUI image)


[Heeschen at NRAO 50th anniversary symposium, 2007]
Heeschen at NRAO 50th Anniversary Symposium, June 2007. NRAO/AUI image


NATIONAL RADIO ASTRONOMY OBSERVATORY ARCHIVES

Papers of Kenneth I. Kellermann: Oral Interviews Series

Interview with David S. Heeschen
At National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Charlottesville VA
13 July 2011 (part 2), late July 2011 (part 3)
Interview time: 1 hour, 27 minutes (part 2), 8 minutes (part 3)
Transcribed by Sierra Smith

Note: In addition to Kellermann and Heeschen, David E. Hogg and Ellen Bouton were also present during part 2 of the interview. The interview was transcribed in the NRAO Archives by Sierra Smith in 2012-2013. The transcription was read and edited for clarity by Kellermann and Bouton, with clarifications on specific points by Hogg, and prepared for the Web by Ellen Bouton in 2014.

Please bear in mind that: 1) this material is a transcript of the spoken word rather than a literary product; 2) an interview must be read with the awareness that different people's memories about an event will often differ, and that memories can change with time for many reasons including subsequent experiences, interactions with others, and one's feelings about an event.

Part 1 of this interview (May 2011) is here.

Kellermann:

Itís July 13th [2011] and this Ken [Kenneth I.] Kellermann and weíre here with Ellen Bouton and Dave [David E.] Hogg to continue our discussion with Dave Heeschen. So there are a few things to follow up from last time. We just talked in the car. Dave confirmed that it was S. Fred Singer that wanted to put the VLA in the everglades. Dave, we were talking last time about the Sugar Grove 600 foot. Iím still confused about what, if any, relationship there was between that and the proposed NRAO Very Large Telescope. Was the Sugar Grove Project classified? Did everybody know about it in the late Ď50s?

Heeschen:

I donít think the project was classified; maybe the purpose of it might have been classified.

Kellermann:

And the actual details. But it was all known about?

Heeschen:

Well sure, that great big thing sitting there in West Virginia, yeah. But we didnít have a whole lot of contact with them as I recall.

Kellermann:

Except maybe through Hagen.

Heeschen:

Through?

Kellermann:

John Hagen who certainly must have been plugged into...

Heeschen:

Yeah sure. But even so at that point we didnít have a whole lot of contact with Hagen either. We had more with Ed [Edward F.] McClain and Connie [Cornell H.] Mayer.

Kellermann:

Iím talking about the years during all those committee meetings, because even then he was pushing for the 600 foot telescope.

Heeschen:

Was he? It could be. I was not in the loop at that point. I was either just a graduate student or just a post doc.

Kellermann:

But you were going to the AUI [Associated Universities, Inc.] meetings...

Heeschen:

I was going to the AUI meetings. I was sort of a gopher for them.

Kellermann:

OK, well, I guess we will have to leave Sugar Grove as a mystery.

Heeschen:

Yeah, I donít know about it.

Kellermann:

The 140 foot. You mentioned last time that the construction started before the design was complete, and especially the work on the foundation before we knew what the foundation had to support.

Heeschen:

Well, did I say that?

Kellermann:

Not those words but you did say that construction started before the design was complete.

Heeschen:

Iím sure of that, but the foundation part I didnít know about.

Kellermann:

I think you said foundation. I added the extra words about adding the... But didnít the same thing happen with the GBT [Green Bank Telescope]?

Heeschen:

The same thing being construction starting before the design was completed?

Kellermann:

Especially on the foundation and then the foundation turned out to not be adequate. Iím looking at Dave Hogg.

Hogg:

Yeah. The foundation was thought to have been a problem as the weight went up.

Kellermann:

Exactly.

Hogg:

But as long as it was built to spec the test said that it would be ok. I donít recall that they had to put extra stuff in as the weight went up.

Heeschen:

So there was no change in the design?

Hogg:

Not that I remember. I donít remember either. I was a kibitzer at that point.

Kellermann:

I remember the concern about it.

Hogg:

There was a great concern, and had the weight gone up any significant amount above what it ended at, then there would have been foundation issues.

Kellermann:

I remember something about the paint, the paint alone was significant.

Hogg:

Well the paint alone was significant. The driver was the heavy weight of the back of the structure.

Kellermann:

The GBT actually took longer, I think, than the 140 foot, 10 years.

Hogg:

I guess thatís right. What do you think the 140 foot was, 8? '57-'65?

Kellermann:

Something like that.

Kellermann:

Yeah, it was sort of in the background. It didnít have anywhere near the potential impact we described last week of the 140 foot, almost bringing NRAO down. In your talk at the 50 year symposium you mentioned that there was a wide range of bids for the 140 foot.

Heeschen:

Yea, there sure were.

Kellermann:

And with hindsight you said that should have been an indication...

Heeschen:

Thatís correct. It certainly should have.

Kellermann:

But didnít the same thing happen with the GBT?

Hogg:

There were three proposals and they spread in value.

Heeschen:

But not to the extent I think that the 140 did.

Hogg:

I donít know what the 140 foot was. There was a factor of 1.5...

Heeschen:

Oh, nowhere near the same.

Hogg:

Between lower and higher.

Kellermann:

I thought it was over $100 million. It would be interesting to go back and check on that.

Heeschen:

The spread in the 140 foot was huge. It was $2 million to $14 million.

Kellermann:

And the latter turned out to be right.

Heeschen:

More or less.

Hogg:

Thatís not fair to say the 140 foot cost $14 million, because a lot of the early money was wasted. Had the thing been built directly the proper costs would have been $7, $8 million, something like that.

Kellermann:

The same is true to an extent with the GBT. If you had had to redo it again in 2003 or '04 it would have been much less than $100 million because a lot of that was engineering and re-engineering.

Hogg:

I believe that to be true. There was a lot of outfitting and work in the field that should have been done at the factory.

Kellermann:

Somewhere I saw, and Iíd never heard this before, that the 300 foot proposal was turned down the first time.

Heeschen:

It rings a bell, but not by NSF [National Science Foundation] but by our Committee. And then [Otto] Struve endorsed it.

Kellermann:

Which Committee? The Visiting Committee?

Heeschen:

The Visiting Committee, I think the Visiting Committee. And then Struve endorsed it and they said, "Well if Struve endorsed it, it must be ok." And the Visiting Committee said it would be ok, so then we sent it to the NSF.

Kellermann:

Ok, because I had never heard that before.

Heeschen:

And the NSF approved it. That was a very fast approval.

Kellermann:

Thatís what Iíve always heard, so it was surprising to hear it was turned down.

Heeschen:

Yeah.

Kellermann:

You mentioned that Bob Hall worked on the design between jobs.

Heeschen:

Yeah.

Kellermann:

Which jobs?

Heeschen:

Blaw-Knox and Rohr.

Kellermann:

And as a result of that, did you recruit Bob Hall for the GBT?

Heeschen:

Yeah thatís right. Bob Hall also did the 85s.

Kellermann:

And what about the 36 foot?

Heeschen:

He did the 36 foot.

Kellermann:

While he was at Rohr.

Heeschen:

At Rohr.

Kellermann:

Alright, letís go to millimeter astronomy. I think Frank Drake was the one that was pushing millimeter astronomy.

Heeschen:

Thatís right.

Kellermann:

Donít shake your head.

Heeschen:

Oh, yes.

Hogg:

For planetary studies?

Heeschen:

I donít know.

Kellermann:

That would make sense.

Hogg:

He was certainly big in planets, and he did the Venus thing.

Heeschen:

Yes, I suppose so. But I donít remember that coming up in the discussion as to what it was going to be for particularly, although, it would have had to. But I donít remember one way or the other. That would make sense though.

Kellermann:

And heís the one that recruited Frank Low?

Heeschen:

Yes, he is.

Kellermann:

How did he know about Frank Low?

Heeschen:

Lowe had a bolometer that Drake was going to use for millimeter waves. Now how Drake knew that I donít know. But Low was at Texas Instruments at the time.

Kellermann:

So the whole 36 foot was designed around Lowís bolometer, I think.

Heeschen:

The focal ratio, thatís correct.

Kellermann:

And then he left just about the time it was finished, actually.

Heeschen:

He left before it was finished.

Kellermann:

Do you know why?

Heeschen:

Well his real interest was infrared I think. He wanted to develop an infrared lab in Green Bank and he did to some extent, but I wasnít real keen on it. So when he got the opportunity to go leave, he went there to develop infrared.

Hogg:

Itís not a coincidence that the 36 foot and Frank ended up in Tucson together. That is, that site was chosen for the 36 foot and he was out there before he left the observatory.

Heeschen:

Why did we choose Tucson? You know, I donít remember why. I think probably it had to do with the fact Kitt Peak was there.

Hogg:

So you didnít have to do infrastructure?

Heeschen:

Yeah. And I think Frank Low thought that was a good place for it as well. And he wanted us to go to, whatís the other mountain? Graham? No, not Graham...

Hogg:

Mount Lemmon.

Kellermann:

Mount Lemmon. Thatís where he had lots of his other stuff...

Hogg:

Later.

Heeschen:

But there was stuff up there already. With whatís his name? Who was the guy at Arizona?

Kellermann:

This was before [Peter A.] Strittmatter.

Heeschen:

No, the infrared guy. Yeah, before Strittmatter too.

Kellermann:

But Low was in residence in Green Bank for a while.

Heeschen:

Yes, he was.

Kellermann:

He first went out to Tucson because of the 36 foot, still as an NRAO...

Heeschen:

No, I donít think so. I think he quit before that and went to Arizona.

Kellermann:

Because he had left by the time I came.

Hogg:

He never did his King Midget. That was a great car.

Heeschen:

He never saw what?

Hogg:

Ken never did see Frankís King Midget.

Heeschen:

Electric car?

Hogg:

No, this little King Midget car.

Heeschen:

Wasnít that electric?

Kellermann:

I think I did out there. I think I remember him taking me home to dinner once.

Hogg:

I thought it had a lawn mower motor on it with a chain drive.

Heeschen:

Maybe Iím misremembering, but he was a big Corvette fan. He probably took you home in his Corvette.

Kellermann:

Thatís what Iím remembering. It was a sports car, yeah. Frank Drake. You mentioned last time you and John Findlay were the first two scientific staff. When did Frank Drake come along? Did you hire him?

Heeschen:

Yeah, I hired him. But I canít tell you exactly when. Late Ď50s but he and...

Hogg:

Menon [T. Kochu Menon].

Heeschen:

And you and Sandy [Sander Weinreb]. No, you said Sandy came in í65. But as a student he came in about 1960 or '61, Sandy did. Drake was there when Struve was there.

Hogg:

When I came as a student in 1959...

Heeschen:

He would have been there.

Hogg:

[Campbell] Wade was there. [Frank] Drake was there.

Heeschen:

Menon?

Hogg:

I canít remember when Menon was there but that era. I had occasion to ask Kochu and he wrote the first Observatory Publication on the Orion Nebula.

Kellermann:

Menon?

Hogg:

Menon. I was interested in the question whether those were refereed papers.

Heeschen:

They were not refereed. That was [Otto] Struveís baby. NRAO was supposed to have Publications.

Kellermann:

That was normal at that time.

Heeschen:

Well, yeah...

Hogg:

It was syllogism in Struveís mind, right? All great observatories have their own publication series. NRAO is a great observatory. Therefore...

Kellermann:

It wasnít unusual for the time. Caltech had it also.

Hogg:

Well they all did: MacDonald, Yerkes, several observatories in California.

Heeschen:

Now wait a minute. Caltech, for example, simply republished things that were published in ApJ [Astrophysical Journal] and places like that.

Kellermann:

There were two series.

Heeschen:

Were there?

Kellermann:

I have the honor of being an author of a few of the things that werenít published. There were the Yellow Jackets, which you are thinking of, that was called Observations of the Owens Valley Radio Observatory, and then there was also with the same yellow covers but red print instead of black print and that was called Publications of the Owens Valley Radio Observatory, and that was used for data and from our source spectra, flux densities and all that, for private publication.

Kellermann:

So all those early people came from Harvard?

Heeschen:

Well, they were the only ones I could get to come. They arenít the only ones I asked.

Kellermann:

Because there is Drake, Wade, Menon, Bill Howard, May Kassim, and Jack Campbell later.

Heeschen:

That was pointed out to me by Fred Haddock and others. But I tried, I couldnít get others.

Kellermann:

Could you name some others.

Heeschen:

Sure. Ed McClain, Connie Mayer, even, though Iím glad he never came, the guy who was in the Netherlands for so long.

Kellermann:

[Gart]Westerhout?

Heeschen:

No.

Hogg:

Charles Seeger.

Heeschen:

Seeger.

Kellermann:

Yeah, that would have been interesting.

Heeschen:

Yeah. Iím just as glad he didnít come, but donít put that down.

Kellermann:

Itís already down. I think heís no longer with us. [Note added by Ken Kellermann: Charles Seeger died in 2002]

Hogg:

You think that?

Kellermann:

Yeah, a few years ago. His brother might be though.

Hogg:

Pete is. [Note added by Ellen Bouton: Pete Seeger died in 2014]

Kellermann:

Iím not sure.

Hogg:

But at the time there werenít many universities that had astronomy programs. So Haddock and others who might have criticized you, you know there wasnít all that much opportunity out there.

Heeschen:

Thatís right.

Hogg:

Harvard was the gold standard.

Heeschen:

Thatís right. They had a lot of opportunity to hire other guys. When they were hunting for a director of NRAO when Struve was leaving they asked everybody in the world before they asked me.

Kellermann:

No, I have a record of that.

Heeschen:

Including, Iím pretty sure, Haddock and McClain.

Kellermann:

We have that somewhere. I get confused with the first time around. Before Struve they asked many people.

Heeschen:

They probably did. Yes.

Kellermann:

Struve was on the committee also at the time, which is unusual. So Bart Bok, did he get heavily involved? I mean I guess he thought of himself as a father of NRAO and a father of many, you, maybe me, and many others.

Heeschen:

Yeah. My timing is going to be a little difficult here, but Bart Bok got into a big fuss at Harvard. He thought he was going to be the next director when Harlow Shapley left. Shapley had told him so according to Bok. So when [Donald] Menzel was named director Bok went off to Australia in a huff, and that was in the midst of NRAO stuff. So he was there for the beginning of the NRAO stuff but not later.

Kellermann:

But when he came back...

Heeschen:

When he came back he was involved again, yeah.

Kellermann:

So he was one that was offered the Directorship the first time around, while he was still at Harvard but after heíd agreed to go to Australia.

Heeschen:

Is that right?

Kellermann:

Yeah.

Hogg:

There were papers in my motherís archive [Helen Sawyer Hogg], letters to Shapley, which led a person who wrote a Ph.D. dissertation on my mother to believe that some of Bartís problems were that he supported Shapley at the time of House Un-American Activities Committee hearings, and that strained Bok with the upper management.

Kellermann:

At Harvard?

Hogg:

I donít know. I think I asked you about this before and you were certainly a little skeptical.

Heeschen:

I donít know either. You mean by supporting Shapley in that he was at odds with the management of Harvard?

Hogg:

Yeah, because the Harvard people threw Shapley under the bus for a while with the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Heeschen:

I donít know, Dave. I donít know about that one at all.

Kellermann:

I think Bok describes it more or less along the lines you just described in his oral history that weíve seen.

Bouton:

Itís the one from AIP. [Note added 2014: See transcript of oral interview with Bart Bok at American Institute of Physics, Center for the History of Physics.]

Kellermann:

Right. Letís go back to the 140 foot. We talked last time about all the trouble with the construction and the delays and the costs, and in the end I think you said explicitly that [Lloyd V.] Berkner quit because of the 140 foot...

Heeschen:

What?

Kellermann:

That Lloyd Berkner...

Heeschen:

Oh, quit. Lloyd Berkner and Dick [Richard] Emberson both quit over the fuss with the 140 foot, yes.

Kellermann:

And Struve was a by-product of that?

Heeschen:

A by-product...?

Kellermann:

Of the 140 foot.

Heeschen:

What do you mean? In what sense?

Kellermann:

He left around the same time.

Heeschen:

Oh, yeah. He left a little bit later.

Kellermann:

Thatís right because [I. I.] Rabi was president. Did you bring that list? We were talking last time about who was president between Berkner and Rabi and you said it was a movie mogul. Was that Edward Reynolds?

Heeschen:

No.

Kellermann:

It wasnít Lee [Leland] Haworth.

Heeschen:

No.

Kellermann:

I didnít realize.

Heeschen:

Keith Glennan. He was president.

Kellermann:

That was later.

Heeschen:

Ok, but he was the one that was the movie mogul, that was him.

Kellermann:

Was he administrator of NASA also?

Heeschen:

Yeah. NASA, the Mercury program or something.

Kellermann:

So thatís where I know the name. I didnít know he had anything to do with movies.

Heeschen:

He was a nice guy. He didnít get along at all with the Director at Brookhaven.

Hogg:

Maurice [Goldhaber].

Heeschen:

Maurice. They didnít get along at all. I donít know why.

Kellermann:

Was that still because Goldberger [should be Goldhaber] thought he should report directly, you said something about he felt he should report directly to the Board and not to the President.

Heeschen:

Well that too, but that never came up when anybody else was President.

Kellermann:

I see. Ok. No, you said it came up with Rabi or I thought you did.

Heeschen:

When Keith Glennan was President. Then at that point Maurice wouldnít report to him but that was it.

Kellermann:

So those were bad times for NRAO. I mean you said that last time. What, in your mind, saved NRAO, made it what it is now? Was it the success of the 140 foot?

Hogg:

Not the 140 foot.

Heeschen:

Well I would put the 300 foot ahead of the 140 foot.

Hogg:

I mean the bad times were before the 140 foot was finished. So how could the 140 foot save it?

Kellermann:

Well it was finally finished.

Hogg:

Yeah, but by then things were better.

Kellermann:

But still the reputation...

Heeschen:

I think myself that it was the 300 foot, because the 300 foot established us as a visitor institution. And people came to the 300 foot, even though it wasnít the worldís greatest telescope, we began to have a visitorís program and we began to do the things that we were supposed to do.

Kellermann:

Letís talk about the visitor program. Correct me if Iím wrong but I think up until NRAO, essentially all observatories, not just radio observatories but all observatories, existed almost exclusively for the staff of that organization. They might have had a visitor or two now and then or something. NRAO and Kitt Peak came about sort of at the same time. But the Kitt Peak the goals were different from NRAO.

Heeschen:

Maybe. I donít know.

Kellermann:

The motivation there, I think, was to provide observing time for the have-nots. Whereas at NRAO it was to provide unique first class facilities that nobody else could afford. Is that right?

Heeschen:

Yes. That makes sense. I think you are right.

Kellermann:

Dave Hogg is frowning.

Hogg:

Well, yeah, to the zero order that was right. But Iím not sure you could find that in any document that chartered these observatories. That was the difference in the management of these observatories. They defined these goals. The goals were as you described, but that was not why the observatories were set up. That was the implementation of setting the observatories up. They were both set up to provide facilities for university observers. Now the optical observers had a somewhat different view because...

Kellermann:

Well different requirements actually.

Hogg:

Because the big universities had their own observing facilities. So it did morph into a have-not thing for Kitt Peak. Whereas we were... Well there were universities, big ones, that were active in radio astronomy too.

Kellermann:

Not in 1956 and not during the early Ď50s when all the discussion occurred. It came later.

Hogg:

Thatís true, but I think the difference you describe is not in the charter documents but in the implementation of the charter documents. Thatís why I was frowning.

Kellermann:

Thank you. And one step further, the original motivation for the national radio observatory was to provide facilities for Americans to compete with Australians and the UK, well everybody. Is that right?

Heeschen:

Yeah. Iím a little hesitant about the "for Americans" because from the beginning we always thought of it as being, or some of us did anyway, as being for everybody. And nobody objected to that.

Kellermann:

Well, thatís what I was driving at. I think that was pretty unique. Iím pretty sure that in all those early discussions in the Ď50s the motivation was that the U.S. was behind the rest of the world.

Heeschen:

Yes, yes.

Kellermann:

So who made that important decision about making it completely open based on merit? Because that set the stage for the...

Heeschen:

I donít know.

Kellermann:

Was it you?

Heeschen:

It was probably me. But I think the AUI Board had a lot to do with it. I was opposed to restriction, I guess thatís a good a way as any to say it, restrictive things. I thought we should be just there for everybody. And this wasnít 100% popular using federal money all the time. I canít remember context in which it wasnít, but I do remember for a while some people thought it wasnít. But it never came to be an issue. We had a lot of people from Europe and nobody really complained about that I can recall.

Hogg:

Every once in a while the National Science Foundation would ask specifically for the fraction of time being awarded to foreign-based observers, and I think there was a lingering concern that it not get to be too large a fraction.

Heeschen:

Yes, and there was a lingering concern there wasnít any reciprocity at the time.

Hogg:

Well, that was the sort of a lot of bitterness.

Heeschen:

Yeah.

Kellermann:

I mean itís a bit of an issue now. The fraction is about one half depending on the facility you are talking about.

Heeschen:

Really. And some people are fussing that itís too big or something?

Kellermann:

NSF. As Dave said, they keep asking questions. In Australia I think it is 70% foreign use. And they take pride in that. They say, "It shows you what a great instrument we have."

Heeschen:

And some of those are American right?

Kellermann:

Oh, yeah.

Heeschen:

So again weíve got the situation now that we wanted.

Kellermann:

Itís much better.

Heeschen:

There are some places that it is difficult. Itís difficult at Bonn unless youíre with somebody at Bonn.

Kellermann:

And IRAM is very specifically for IRAM members, they donít even pay lip service to it.

Heeschen:

Ok.

Kellermann:

And there are those places where you apply and they say, "Oh, we were already planning to do that."

Heeschen:

Maybe Iím wrong. I thought that our policy sort of opened the door for other people, maybe only in the context of working with others, but nevertheless it seems to me there was more internationalism to observing later on as a result of the open door policy of NRAO. Maybe that is just hopeful thinking.

Hogg:

I believe that to be true because ultimately the UK, certainly the Australians, the Dutch to some extent, but IRAM has always been...

Kellermann:

Well thatís in their charter. Of course, ALMAís uncertain now about how itís going to work. But I think youíre right Dave. NRAO gets the credit for having led towards this direction. People more or less have taken it on. Going back to the 140 foot, it was ultimately very successful, but why? I donít think it was as good of an antenna as the Algonquin Park 120 foot which was an alt-az mount. It wasnít as good at Haystack, which was only 120 feet, but worked at 1 centimeter quite well. Yet it was the 140 foot that was the premier facility for these 10 years.

Heeschen:

Well, arenít there two possibilities: one is that weíve had the good electronics, and the other is that we had this policy of letting these people come in who were good people, and they did the right things, interesting things. And Haystack had a small staff and they couldnít do a whole lot.

Kellermann:

Do you remember the first really successful experiment, observation on the 140 foot?

Heeschen:

No. It probably had to be Peter Mezger.

Kellermann:

Right.

Hogg:

I presume youíre referring to the recombination line.

Heeschen:

Oh, ok, yeah.

Kellermann:

Do you want to comment on that?

Heeschen:

No, what is there to comment on? I was glad to see it happen.

Kellermann:

In my mind it was the first scientific publication, I think, that brought the 140 foot to the attention of the world. Were you at the 1964 Hamburg IAU [International Astronomical Union]?

Heeschen:

Yes.

Kellermann:

So do you remember Al [Alan H.] Barrett chaired a session where there were the two Russians presentations about their getting the recombination lines.

Heeschen:

Sort of now that you mention it.

Kellermann:

And he ridiculed them.

Heeschen:

Who ridiculed them?

Kellermann:

Barrett. Of course, they could barely speak English. The presentations were with an opaque projector. The signal to noise ratio was about 1.5, I mean literally the signal on the screen. So you could barely see it and it was a poor presentation.

Heeschen:

I do remember that. I had forgotten it completely but you bring it back. Yes.

Kellermann:

So you havenít gone back and looked at that or anything.

Heeschen:

No, I have not.

Kellermann:

You know, with hindsight I think their stuff was ok. As were a number of other things the Russians did in those years.

Hogg:

Well that recombination line business predates 1964, the prediction.

Kellermann:

Yeah, but this is the observational detection.

Hogg:

I understand. The prediction was extant when I was in graduate school because I was assigned a paper, a task to review it.

Kellermann:

Which one?

Hogg:

I canít remember now.

Kellermann:

Not [Nikolai] Kardashevís. Because the first paper, I canít remember, was it George Fieldís?

Hogg:

I canít remember.

Kellermann:

The first paper said you couldnít see because of [stark broadening?]. And it was Kardashev who...

Hogg:

It was a Russian paper.

Kellermann:

Oh, it was a Russian paper. Oh, itís Kardashevís. Yes, because the Russian people followed up on that. I think Mezger tried this on the 85-1.

Heeschen:

He may have, but I donít remember that.

Hogg:

The story is that he knew he would see it on the 140 foot.

Kellermann:

So you mean he had a 2 to 1 signal to noise on the 85 foot or something.

Hogg:

It was better than that.

Kellermann:

Better than that. When? Do you remember how early that was?

Hogg:

It was approximate to his 140 foot time.

Kellermann:

Because I canít imagine Peter sitting on this for a year if he had it.

Hogg:

I donít think it was a year. Well I donít want to put words in the system, but I think he went to the 140 foot convinced that he would have a successful first paper for the 140 foot. Iíll leave it at that.

Kellermann:

No, thatís important, Dave, and thatís sort of what I was driving at. I donít know where I heard this, whether it was from you or Peter. Now the Brookhaven model for visitors was different though, because their people built big instruments, and for a time that happened a bit at NRAO, especially with the 300 foot I think.

Heeschen:

Yes, what the DTM [Department of Terrestrial Magnetism] guy wanted, I forget his name.

Hogg:

[Bernard F.] Burke.

Heeschen:

No, his boss.

Hogg:

His boss but Burke was there with...

Heeschen:

Yes, Burke was there with his own equipment. I canít remember...

Bouton:

Merle Tuve?

Heeschen:

Merle Tuve, thank you. Thatís what Merle Tuve wanted. He wanted the 300 foot, and you drove up to it in a truck full of stuff, plugged it in, and that was it. He didnít want anything else. And incidentally Green Bank is in Green Bank in considerable part because of Merle Tuve, who wanted it to be within 300 miles of Washington.

Kellermann:

Weíve heard the 300 mile story but it was Tuve that was...

Heeschen:

Mainly it was Tuve, I think, yeah. Tuve and Berkner didnít get along at all, and I think if Tuve was in favor of that, Berkner was probably opposed to it but I donít know.

Hogg:

The iconic picture of the 300 foot in the snow with the Sunís shadow on the snow has Burkeís correlator trailer in it.

Heeschen:

I donít think they actually brought anything ever, did they?

Hogg:

Oh yeah. There was a filter bank or some kind of multichannel HI receiver.

Heeschen:

Oh yes, they did.

Hogg:

HI processor, the receiver was ours. It was one of the first serious pieces of line equipment.

Kellermann:

When I came, NRL was doing a lot on the 300 foot. They had their own receivers for polarization. Connie Mayer, [Russell M.] Sloanaker. But that changed, at least with the 140 foot I guess, with NRAO providing all this.

Heeschen:

Oh yeah. It got pretty complicated to provide your own equipment. I canít recall anybody -- well some back ends. Somebody brought a back end for pulsar work once.

Hogg:

[G. Richard] Huguenin?

Heeschen:

Maybe.

Kellermann:

[Joseph H.] Taylor?

Heeschen:

Maybe.

Hogg:

Well not Taylor. That would have to have been quite late on.

Kellermann:

But he was working for Huguenin.

Hogg:

He worked for Huguenin.

Heeschen:

I canít remember but Iím pretty sure that somebody had their own pulsar machine, back end.

Kellermann:

Well, that tradition has continued.

Heeschen:

Has it?

Kellermann:

Yes.

Hogg:

Very much so.

Kellermann:

Arecibo also.

Hogg:

The receivers generally from NRAO labs were the best, so it was hard for a university to compete with those.

Heeschen:

Yeah. People brought their own mixers to the 36 foot.

Hogg:

Well thatís because Bell Labs...

Heeschen:

Had something different but they did, especially [Arno] Penzias and [Robert W.] Wilson. It may have only been Penzias and Wilson.

Hogg:

Only, yeah. We had no technology to compete with theirs.

Kellermann:

Letís go back to the VLA. The original proposal, or at least the original thinking, was pretty much for a continuum instrument. When did spectroscopic capability come in?

Heeschen:

Gee, I donít remember.

Kellermann:

Not so much when, but why.

Heeschen:

I canít answer that. I donít know. It was before the VLA was actually approved.

Kellermann:

Was it in response to criticism about the lack of spectroscopic capability?

Heeschen:

There was a lot a criticism about the VLA, but I donít remember it being that.

Hogg:

I would guess -- I canít remember either, unhappily -- but I would guess the success at Caltech and Westerbork, or in Holland, I should say, would provide something of an impetus to us. But particularly, by the time we were completing early designs, there had already been good success at Caltech with the line interferometer.

Kellermann:

And the first...

Hogg:

It was [Barry] Clark right?

Kellermann:

Right.

Heeschen:

It was.

Kellermann:

The last of many Owens Valley Array proposals very heavily emphasized spectroscopy. In fact the only way they changed it was the spectroscopic capabilities.

Hogg:

I think that was to emphasize the merit of a big dish versus a 85 foot.

Heeschen:

Clark, when he was ready to leave Caltech, sent me a letter saying he wanted to come to Green Bank. He had never done any continuum work. Heíd like to do some.

Kellermann:

He did some.

Heeschen:

He did?

Kellermann:

Well, certainly the VLBI.

Hogg:

He did on the Green Bank Interferometer.

Kellermann:

Yeah, of course. Thatís right.

Hogg:

A little bit.

Kellermann:

Well there was the big Clark and Hogg program. It filled all the cabinets at Green Bank. Well, half the cabinets.

Hogg:

The ones that you didnít have.

Kellermann:

The ones I couldnít get at because they were... But the first VLA correlator was just for continuum. Wasnít there a correlator built for a limited number of antennas for just continuum work? No?

Hogg:

I canít remember.

Heeschen:

I canít remember either, but I sort of doubt it. I think that by the time the VLA was actually built, Sandy would have had a...

Kellermann:

I thought there was a throw away correlator, but maybe Iím wrong.

Hogg:

We were running HI line with Greisen on the Green Bank Interferometer in 1970.

Kellermann:

Thatís right.

Hogg:

So line interferometry was not unknown at NRAO. Well, and of course by then Westerbork was in full cry, so it wouldnít surprise me if that correlator had some limited line capability. But I canít remember.

Kellermann:

That will be easy to find out. Tell us about the NSF in the early years. I mean, a naÔve picture is you trotted over to Washington, talked to somebody for half an hour about what you wanted to do, and they wrote you a check. I know thatís over simplification. But one has the impression that it was different.

Heeschen:

Well it certainly was different. We dealt directly with Alan Waterman, who was the first Director, and his deputy was Randy Robertson. And we dealt directly with those two guys.

Kellermann:

Whoís we particularly?

Heeschen:

Well me and Gerry Tape, I guess. I donít know who else. There probably were some...

Kellermann:

Ted?

Hogg:

Ted knew Randy Robertson very well.

Heeschen:

Yeah.

Kellermann:

Thatís Ted Riffe we are talking about.

Heeschen:

Ted Riffe. And he would have known the business people in NSF, Ted would have. I canít remember their names. So I lost my train of thought. Where were we?

Kellermann:

Taking about working with the NSF and Randy Robertson.

Heeschen:

In the beginning we worked directly with Randy Robertson and a guy by the name of Paul Shearer.

Kellermann:

Can you spell that?

Heeschen:

S-H-E-A-R-E-R, I think. And I canít remember what his position was in the NSF but his role as far as we were concerned was he was the ombudsman for us. Because I can remember him taking me to the, whatís the fancy club that everybody belonged to?

Hogg:

Cosmos Club.

Heeschen:

Cosmos Club for lunch and dinner and talking about strategy to get things done at the NSF and, "Hang in there, Dave," and so on and so forth. So he was a big help but I donít remember his official position, except it was high up. He had the ear of Waterman and Randy Robertson. But then as the NSF grew we kept getting pushed further and further down the line until we saw the Director only during our annual review with the NSF. He would come in sit at a table and listen to us talk. And all the people like Jim Wright, who came in and listened, they all took extensive notes to show that they were paying attention.

Kellermann:

At what level were the decisions made?

Heeschen:

Well it depended of course on the nature of the decision, so I canít really answer that.

Kellermann:

Well the budget?

Heeschen:

The budget, well, again I donít know how far that went. Towards the end of my stay we were dealing strictly with the National Centers part of the Astronomy Division. And there was a guy there, he was an Assistant Director to the NSF, his name escapes me at the moment, he was a formal admiral.

Hogg:

[Thomas] Owen.

Heeschen:

Owen, Tom Owen. And his former aid, his captain, was...

Hogg:

Yeah, he was very influential.

Heeschen:

He was influential. I canít think of his name either.

Hogg:

Ted [Riffe] would remember.

Heeschen:

What?

Hogg:

Ted would remember.

Heeschen:

Ted would remember, yeah. [Note added 2014: Riffe says in 4/9/2014 email: "Heeschen might have been thinking of Dan Hunt who was head of the Astronomy Section at the NSF during Tom Owen's AD reign. Hunt was also a Navy retiree, a Captain I think, but I'm unaware of any connection between Owen and Hunt before their NSF days."]

Kellermann:

What was Owensí position?

Heeschen:

He was Assistant Director to the NSF until they reorganized things.

Kellermann:

For?

Hogg:

MPS, I guess.

Heeschen:

No, we were in the other division.

Kellermann:

AAEO [Directorate for Astronomical, Atmospheric, Earth, and Ocean Sciences].

Heeschen:

Yeah. And the guy for MPS [Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences]was a physicist that...

Hogg:

Hughes?

Heeschen:

No, no.

Hogg:

Hughes was later.

Heeschen:

Hughes was later but Hughes was for the NRAO part. This guy was a physicist for the physical sciences...

Kellermann:

Hughes has told me he was responsible for moving astronomy into MPS.

Heeschen:

Into MPS? Is that where it is now?

Kellermann:

Yeah, which on paper makes sense.

Heeschen:

Yeah sure it does.

Hogg:

But in hindsight it may not have politically...

Heeschen:

What?

Hogg:

It may not have been a really good move for us because we got kind of dwarfed by the others.

Kellermann:

The Astronomy Grants had been in MPS, right? I mean before that we didnít compete directly.

Heeschen:

Yes, we did. At some point Astronomy Grants and the National Centers were in the same group, the same thing. But I think not when Owen was there. And so we didnít exactly compete, but in a sense we did compete, because they looked at the total sum for each. Isnít that right Dave?

Hogg:

Yeah.

Heeschen:

He knows more about this than I do anymore. For one thing his brain is better than mine nowadays.

Hogg:

Just by about one epsilon now though.

Kellermann:

When did you start participating in these activities?

Hogg:

1974.

Kellermann:

That late.

Hogg:

Yeah, I came back from Green Bank to become Assistant. At that time Tape was [AUI] president and he talked to the Director of the NSF and the Director of MPS or whatever division we were in. And Dave talked to the Division Director and the Astronomy Chief. And I, once in a while if I was a good boy, could talk to the Astronomy Chief but mainly I talked to the guy there that had NRAO.

Heeschen:

That sounds right. They became very, very bureaucratic.

Hogg:

And the guy that I talked to, whose name will come back to me after a while, got a meritorious award from the NSF for long service.

Heeschen:

Did he?

Hogg:

Yes. Iím remembering weíre on tape.

Heeschen:

For a while there was a guy from RPI [Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute].

Hogg:

Oh, Bob, Robert Fleischer.

Kellermann:

He was the first [Astronomy Division Head].

Heeschen:

He might have been the first.

Hogg:

That was way before then. I inherited his house when I moved to Green Bank as a student. He was in the Lowe Farm.

Heeschen:

Well for a summer I think.

Hogg:

Yeah.

Kellermann:

During the VLA construction the NSF sent somebody here to Charlottesville to monitor the contract or something. You threw him out after a while.

Heeschen:

We threw them out?

Hogg:

I suspect there is a little poetic license going on here. They did have a guy posted to Socorro.

Heeschen:

Yes, they did.

Hogg:

And that guy got along with Jack Lancaster. He got an award of recognition for his great service doing the VLA.

Kellermann:

Is that the one you were referring to?

Hogg:

No, no. That guy reported to the one I referred to. They had a special person and he may have briefly been here, I canít remember that, but mostly at this time he was in Socorro. NSF was understandably uptight about the VLA. It was their biggest, non-Mohole project, as people often reminded them.

Kellermann:

One distorts their memory over the years, but I thought I remembered that you wouldnít let him use NRAO pencils or office. Maybe thatís my imagination.

Heeschen:

I donít remember anything like that, no. And Lancaster had the ability to get along with these guys very well. Maybe his experience with Brookhaven where they had close supervision all the time.

Kellermann:

That was the Department of Energy.

Hogg:

But it was style that was much more like what happened with the VLA construction than prior to that at NSF. The NSF auditors were all over.

Heeschen:

But I donít think we ever really objected to that because that was not an unreasonable thing.

Hogg:

Having a guy in Socorro?

Heeschen:

Yeah.

Hogg:

No, and it gave more rapid approval, so if Jack needed to buy something, a bunch of railroad ties...

Heeschen:

Putting someone out there with Lancaster was a guarantee that Lancaster would subvert him to be a fan of the VLA and NRAO.

Kellermann:

I guess it worked. Where did John Findlay fit into all of this? You mentioned in the beginning you and he had complimentary roles in science and electronics. I think when I came or shortly after that, first he had gone to Arecibo for a year, and then he was Site Director at Green Bank, then you had some disagreements I think.

Heeschen:

Lots and lots of them. Was he ever Site Director at Green Bank?

Kellermann:

For a year, yeah. His big accomplishment was building the swimming pool.

Hogg:

In fact Iím not sure whether he was Site Director twice because I thought when he came back from Arecibo he was Site Director, but Iím not sure but what he was when he went to Arecibo. Weíd have to look that up, but yeah, he was definitely Site Director.

Heeschen:

I donít know how much you want to say...

Kellermann:

Go ahead.

Heeschen:

I think John was a sad case. In the beginning he was extremely helpful and good about everything. But he began to have all kinds of problems, and it was partly drinking and it was partly his diabetes, I think, which donít go together. And so eventually he became impossible. But he was hired originally by Lloyd Berkner, who had known him in Europe for some activity that John had been involved in and Berkner was impressed by him. And he came early on, and as Dave said, he was in charge of electronics and I did astronomy at Green Bank. And then Struve appointed me Deputy Director and this infuriated Findlay. Not that being Deputy Director meant anything, but Findlay told Struve that he thought he, Findlay, ought to be Deputy Director. And so Struve made him Deputy Director.

Kellermann:

Sorry. Findlay made?

Heeschen:

Struve made Findlay Deputy Director.

Kellermann:

Also or instead?

Heeschen:

Instead. He told Findlay he was going to make me Deputy Director and Findlay objected so strenuously that Struve made Findlay Deputy Director. So Findlay was Deputy Director for a long, long time, even after Struve left because I didnít have the nerve to fire him as Deputy Director.

Kellermann:

Well you couldnít. He outranked you.

Heeschen:

Sure I could. I was Director then.

Kellermann:

Oh, once you were the Director, sorry.

Heeschen:

I could have in the beginning, but in the beginning I didnít want to either because Findlay was doing fine. I donít know what happened to Findlay. His drinking and his diabetes just got away from him I think.

Kellermann:

So you inherited him. He was Deputy Director while you were...

Heeschen:

While I was head of the Astronomy Department or something like that.

Kellermann:

So he did outrank you?

Heeschen:

Yes he did.

Kellermann:

And then you became...

Heeschen:

I became Director, which infuriated Findlay. He went to see Rabi. Rabi never forgave him for that. Rabi had no use for Findlay at all, which didnít help matters.

Kellermann:

I think I recall him talking about Rabi and he got along with Rabi much worse than you did. But you kept him on as Deputy Director.

Heeschen:

I kept him on.

Kellermann:

As Deputy Director?

Heeschen:

Yes. I was afraid not to, I guess. I donít know. It was a weakness on my part, because he was no good as a Deputy Director. Maybe he was ok for a while. And then we started the VLA and we started the LFST and so Findlay and [Sebastian] von Hoerner did the LFST. And Hein [Hvatum] and Sandy [Sander Weinreb] did the VLA with you and I.

Kellermann:

Findlay also did the 36 foot, didnít he?

Heeschen:

Yeah, he did.

Hogg:

Well he was involved in that, but Hein had to finish it.

Heeschen:

He had what?

Hogg:

Thatís right. Findlay left the 36 foot to go to Arecibo.

Heeschen:

Thatís right, and Hein took it over then. Thank you.

Hogg:

Thatís how it happened. And then when John wanted back from Arecibo, I think thatís when he went to Green Bank.

Kellermann:

But then he was in charge of the 12 meter upgrade or whatever it was called.

Hogg:

Probably.

Kellermann:

Yeah I think so.

Hogg:

But thatís the middle Ď80s.

Heeschen:

That could be.

Hogg:

Because he was a metrologist and he developed a way to set the precision surface and he and John [Payne] had these elegant tools for doing that. He and John were, of course, joined at the hip. John Findlay and John Payne were joined at the hip.

Heeschen:

Yeah, they were very close. Findlay had the ability to be close to some really competent people, and Payne was one of them.

Hogg:

Well, Findlay was a very gifted person.

Heeschen:

Yes he was.

Hogg:

Itís just he had...

Heeschen:

Had problems.

Kellermann:

For a long time during the VLA construction you and Hein almost alternated weeks going out there, or going out there every third week?

Heeschen:

I went out frequently and Hein went out frequently and thatís about all I can say about it. My going out was strictly for the fun of it actually.

Kellermann:

I still do that.

Heeschen:

I just went out mainly to see how things were going on, and I would talk to Barry standing up because he never gave me a place to sit in his office. That was his way of keeping the conversations short, I think. And I talked to everybody else.

Kellermann:

Thatís still fun to do. I try once every year or two to get out to the site also, just because itís fun. But thereís no reason to anymore. Thereís no reason even to go to Socorro except to talk to people. I sat in here for a few hours with Socorro. But during that time Bill [William E.] Howard took over a lot of responsibilities.

Hogg:

What time are we speaking of?

Kellermann:

The early VLA construction time.

Heeschen:

Well, Iím bad on dates. Bill was Director at Green Bank for a while. Bill was a very, very good Assistant to the Director but he wasnít all that great at doing things himself. His first action when he went to Green Bank as Division Head, or whatever the title was then, was to raise the price of coffee from a nickel to a dime, which then became 11 cents.

Kellermann:

Everybody remembers that.

Hogg:

No, the sequence was that Bill was Assistant to the Director in the late '60s until 1974 and during that time he was resident in Charlottesville. I donít remember him having very much to do with the VLA. He did scheduling, body counts.

Kellermann:

That was very important.

Hogg:

Iím not saying it to denigrate him. Iím just saying what he did. Now in 1974 I came back and he went out.

Kellermann:

To Green Bank.

Hogg:

And he left Green Bank two or three years later and went directly from Green Bank to the NSF, at which point he became the Astronomy Head. But at no time in my memory did he have any serious involvement in the VLA.

Kellermann:

I wasnít suggesting that. My point was that you were preoccupied. You were spending a lot of time at the VLA as was everybody else.

Heeschen:

Bill was very, very good at details and he could, for example, write the budget for us and do things like that very, very well. So he was, as far as I was concerned, an expert as Assistant to the Director. So was Dave.

Kellermann:

But Dave had a higher title. You took over for Bill as Associate Director for Operations or something like that.

Heeschen:

Did we reorganize along there? Maybe so.

Kellermann:

When did they start going out to referees, for observing proposals?

Heeschen:

Oh boy. I donít know. Do you know?

Hogg:

Well, certainly before I was involved in 1974. Well, when I scheduled the Green Bank Interferometer we had referees of course. So it was in the late '60s.

Heeschen:

Ok.

Kellermann:

You had referees for the interferometer?

Heeschen:

I donít remember. Itís been so long.

Hogg:

Yes we did.

Heeschen:

I can believe that we had them pretty early though.

Hogg:

We had them for the interferometer. I remember putting the reports...

Kellermann:

The interferometer was done separately because you did that.

Hogg:

I scheduled that.

Kellermann:

But the 140 foot and the 300 foot Bill did...

Hogg:

And the 36 foot.

Kellermann:

And the 36 foot. You did the 36 foot for a while.

Heeschen:

When I was out at Green Bank...

Kellermann:

There are these letters from Penzias...

Hogg:

Well when it was coming up online, Dave personally arranged because...

Kellermann:

I remember the [Arno] Penzias and [Robert] Wilson stuff.

Hogg:

Yeah, thatís a famous letter. You wrote to Penzias saying you are sorry that you can only give them a couple of months of observing time.

Heeschen:

Famous letter?

Hogg:

It was. It was posted for years on the wall of the 36 foot/12 meter.

Heeschen:

Really?

Bouton:

Now posted on the wall in the Archives.

Hogg:

Well, yeah, because the 12 meter had this myriad of observers who were arguing for 15 hours of observing time and some wit thought it would be useful to say how it was in the glory days.

Heeschen:

And the first thing an observer did at the 36 foot when he got there was to look to see what the guy before him did.

Kellermann:

The guy before him sometimes fudged the log.

Hogg:

Absolutely he did.

Kellermann:

I think there was only one such guy who fudged the log.

Heeschen:

Lou Snyder?

Kellermann:

No.

Hogg:

The others took great care about disguising the logs. They would have strange names for sources.

Kellermann:

It was Solomon I think.

Heeschen:

Phil?

Hogg:

Iím not sure that your statement that there was only one is true.

Kellermann:

But I do remember coming to you, talking to you. You didnít do anything about it, but I thought he should be blacklisted. It became widely known. I thought he should be blacklisted. You said something to the effect that there is a higher judgment.

Heeschen:

I donít know. What could you do about it?

Kellermann:

Well not let him on the telescope. Obviously that would have been awkward, but youíre right about the higher judgment. Letís talk about Caltech some more especially those very early years. Even before the VLA issues came up. What was the relationship with first John Bolton and Gordon Stanley? I heard a little bit [when I was] on the other side.

Heeschen:

Well I thought Bolton was a rather abrasive person.

Kellermann:

Thatís an understatement.

Heeschen:

But as far as I know we got along ok. I donít recall anything special with John.

Kellermann:

He was on the Visiting Committee for a short time before he went back to Australia.

Heeschen:

Yes, and he wasnít a bad Visiting Committee member. Yeah. I had more trouble actually with Jesse and Maarten Schmidt at the Dicke Committee hearings, which I guess was later than what you are talking about now.

Hogg:

What was Maarten Schmidtís problem?

Heeschen:

They wanted the Caltech thing and not the VLA. And so for the Dicke Committee hearings they sent Schmidt and Greenstein, two well-known radio astronomers, to support the Caltech thing. And Bolton was gone by that time. And Gordon Stanley was there and he didnít have anything like the clout or the charisma or anything else that Bolton had. He was a nice guy. He was pushing the Caltech Array as were Jesse and Maarten Schmidt. And Maarten Schmidt said, "Oh, whatís so important about 10 centimeters?" I was chiding them that they could only get a certain resolution in Owens Valley, which in the long run killed them, I think.

Kellermann:

What about Gordon? Again going back to 1960, '61, well before the VLA. I think Gordon replaced John on the Visiting Committee. Was he constructive?

Heeschen:

You know, I donít remember very well, but I donít remember having any antagonistic feelings towards him. So I guess he was.

Kellermann:

Ok.

Heeschen:

Didnít he give us crystals?

Hogg:

That sounds familiar.

Heeschen:

He was making crystals.

Kellermann:

We were using commercial 1N34 diodes [Kellermann in 2014: at Caltech]. These were mixers. Are you taking about mixers?

Heeschen:

No. Iím talking about front end crystals.

Kellermann:

Yeah, mixer.

Heeschen:

Ok, youíre right, mixer crystal. You were using what?

Kellermann:

He may have given NRAO the mixer assembly, not the crystal. Because we were using commercial crystals.

Heeschen:

Well I thought he made the crystals. He was giving us the assembly, yes.

Kellermann:

That was his special thing, the thing that you put the crystal in. It had the LO going in one end.

Heeschen:

Because before that there was a commercial one that we bought.

Kellermann:

It was the mixer assembly that you got from him.

Heeschen:

Right. The commercial one, when I went to Jodrell Bank for four months I took one with me. I had trouble getting it through customs but we sold it to [Robert] Hanbury-Brown.

Kellermann:

When was that?

Heeschen:

'50-...

Kellermann:

I didnít know you were at Jodrell.

Heeschen:

I was at Jodrell for four months, in the late '50s sometime.

Kellermann:

I just remembered...

Heeschen:

Or maybe it was the early '60s.

Kellermann:

Yeah. Iím just remembering I spent the spring of '62 at Cambridge working on my thesis and that summer there was a summer school at Jodrell Bank.

Heeschen:

Oh yeah. I taught at that.

Kellermann:

Right.

Heeschen:

But I wasnít at Jodrell Bank at that point.

Kellermann:

That wasnít the time that...

Heeschen:

I was there before that. I remember that summer school. I think there is a picture of all of the guys somewhere.

Kellermann:

In the frontispiece of the book. Speaking of pictures, there is also the picture of the famous 1961 meeting with the Russians in Green Bank. How did that come about?

Heeschen:

Struve.

Kellermann:

Of course.

Heeschen:

Struve wanted to do that. I donít remember now how we picked the people or how they picked the people.

Kellermann:

Well, they must have.

Heeschen:

Yeah.

Kellermann:

That was organized through the Academies.

Heeschen:

Yeah.

Bouton:

It was a joint thing. The two different Academies, and I think the Russian Academy was the one that chose the people to come from Russia.

Heeschen:

That could well be.

Kellermann:

I think Iíve seen a report or something written up by Frank Drake.

Heeschen:

Yes, he wrote it up.

Kellermann:

Ok, to summarize, what was the best thing you did during your years as Director, the thing that had the biggest impact.

Heeschen:

Well, I donít know whether this is true or not, but to me I think itís the establishment of the concept of the national observatory and the free use of the telescopes by people. That I think is to me the thing. But how much I had to do with that is something else. And I donít know that. But that I think was a really good thing that came out of it, and itís something which is persisting, you know, till this day. Everybody uses everybody elseís telescopes in one way or another.

Kellermann:

Just to clarify. I think everybody would agree with what you just said about Open Skies and the impact of that. But you said the concept of a national observatory...

Heeschen:

My concept of a national observatory.

Kellermann:

Right. Because the national observatory concept came earlier.

Heeschen:

A national observatory concept came from elsewhere. Kitt Peakís concept was different from ours, for example, for a long time. It might not be anymore.

Kellermann:

Elaborate on that.

Heeschen:

Well they had far less freedom for the visitors. For example I had the brilliant idea that the center of M87 would be polarized, and so I submitted a proposal.

Kellermann:

Optical?

Heeschen:

Optical. To use the 84 or 86 inch or whatever it is. And they said, "Gee this looks interesting, but is it possible?" So whatís his name, Tom Kinmen, went out at night to check it out, and he did it and he decided it was possible. Then they let me come out, and weíve got back to back papers in the ApJ [Astrophysical Journal], which I think is disgraceful.

Kellermann:

I think it was well-known then that Kitt Peak staff had the same monthly allocations of observing time as tradition in optical astronomy. We had to fight for it.

Heeschen:

Thatís right.

Hogg:

[Geoffrey R.] Burbidge changed that.

Kellermann:

Yes.

Heeschen:

Did he? Good for him.

Hogg:

Well he had been on our Committees and he thought this was a more enlightened way of doing business. But of course it cost him dearly in terms of staff support as Director.

Kellermann:

Well even Board support.

Heeschen:

I was on their Visiting Committee when Burbidge was Director, and he didnít have the support at all from anywhere.

Kellermann:

I forgot to ask about him because I always thought of him as a strong friend and supporter of NRAO.

Heeschen:

Yeah, I think he was. For example, was it the Greenstein Committee?

Kellermann:

He was on the Committee, Radio Panel.

Heeschen:

Yeah. The Greenstein Committee had its final meeting out west somewhere, I forget where, and they were going to finalize their recommendations. And Jesse [Greenstein] was pretty much against the VLA being the number one recommendation. And I didnít go that meeting. I was on that Committee but I didnít go to that meeting. And Burbidge was instrumental in talking Greenstein into accepting the VLA as the number one priority. He had help from Burke, who was there, and probably somebody else as well, probably [Gart] Westerhout, I donít know. At one point according to Burbidge, Greenstein was ready to resign rather than do that. Greenstein had a thing about national observatories. He didnít think they were useful or anything else, I guess, in many ways. Although we became friends eventually and he was ok.

Kellermann:

The four years I was there as graduate student I had no idea about his early involvement with [Grote] Reber and his background. The astronomers were upstairs and the radio astronomers were on the first floor, and he hardly had anything to do with the radio astronomers when he was department head. You were talking about Burbidge. There was pressure from time to time, or suggestions at least, about we should have theoreticians on the staff at NRAO.

Heeschen:

And we tried that for a while.

Kellermann:

With?

Heeschen:

But they all turned into observers.

Kellermann:

Right.

Heeschen:

Bob Hjellming, who started out as a theoretician.

Kellermann:

Sebastian.

Heeschen:

Sebastian, well he remained one pretty much.

Hogg:

Bob [Robert] Brown.

Heeschen:

Bob Brown started out as a theoretician.

Kellermann:

Sebastian didnít become an observer but he did try to design radio telescopes. He became an engineer.

Heeschen:

But we did want to have a theoretician on the staff.

Heeschen:

A what?

Hogg:

A visiting program.

Heeschen:

Yes we did.

Hogg:

So we had Edward Harrison and John Faulkner. A guy from, was it Berkeley, somewhere. And then we had Dave DeYoung.

Heeschen:

He was actually on the staff. We had Franz Kahn, thatís when Struve was still here. Franz Kahn was walking across a field one day between the Observatory office and his house. He went to the cemetery and out that road, and said all of a sudden a bolt of lightning came down somewhere, and he had been thinking bad thoughts about [Jan Hendrik] Oort.

Kellermann:

How did Sebastian get to NRAO?

Heeschen:

Struve invited him a visitor.

Kellermann:

Struve knew of him?

Heeschen:

I donít know how actually, but he did. And then von Hoerner went back to Heidelberg and I was over there for some reason and I wanted him to come back to Green Bank. I stopped and talked to him and offered him a job, and he came back to Green Bank.

Hogg:

Sebastian and a guy called St. Temesváry.

Heeschen:

Who?

Hogg:

St. Temesváry, who went to SUNY-Albany and a third guy each wrote very influential, prize papers on star formation and gas dynamics and they bundled it into a book. [Note added 2014: Die Entstehung von Sternen durch Kondensation diffuser Materie, G.R. Burbidge, F.D. Kahn, R. Ebert, S. v. Hoerner, St. Temesváry (Springer-Verlag, 1960)] And I would not be surprised if thatís how Struve came to know of him.

Heeschen:

It could be.

Hogg:

It was a very important little monograph.

Heeschen:

I donít think Iíve ever seen that.

Hogg:

I think Iíve got it upstairs. But this guy [?] was cut from the same cloth as Sebastian, really bright guy.

Kellermann:

Iíve met him after May went there.

Heeschen:

Did you know Doris Wilsdorf?

Kellermann:

I donít know the name, no.

Heeschen:

You donít know Wilsdorf Hall here. Doris Wilsdorf was a physicist. Her husband was a physicist. They were both at UVA. She was a student of von Weizäker [Carl Friedrich von Von Wiesäker] with von Hoerner. She had a student, a guy by the name of Don Olsen, who made tons of money and dedicated a physics building to Doris. And then he went and bought himself a ride on the Russian satellite, and took her over to watch the launch. She died recently. But she was a nice lady.

Kellermann:

Do you know much about Sebastian going back to Bonn, to go back to Germany to become one of the MPI [Max Planck Institute] Directors?

Heeschen:

Sebastian?

Kellermann:

Yeah. This was mid-'60s.

Heeschen:

No I didnít know that at all. Now wait a minute the MPI started in the mid-'60s.

Kellermann:

Yeah.

Heeschen:

So he might have been asked to be one of the original directors, I donít know.

Kellermann:

But he and [Otto] Hachenberg couldnít work it out or something. I donít know.

Heeschen:

So he might have been asked before Peter [Mezger]?

Kellermann:

Well before.

Heeschen:

But Peter was there at the beginning of MPI.

Kellermann:

Yeah, well that was after the telescope was under construction. No, this was before.

Heeschen:

But there wasnít any MPI then.

Kellermann:

Well, there was a Max Planck Gesellschaft. They didnít have the radio telescope. But I think thatís when they were talking about it. Thatís why I asked. Iím not sure when. They were talking about building a radio telescope.

Heeschen:

Well no. Hachenberg got the money for that from somewhere other than the Gesellschaft.

Kellermann:

It was Volkswagen.

Heeschen:

So the telescope as you say was already underway and then it was incorporated into the Gesellschaft.

Kellermann:

Yeah at the start of the project it was at the University of Bonn. Thatís right. But there was some discussion. I know that Sebastian wanted it in Tübingen...

Heeschen:

He wanted what?

Kellermann:

He wanted the telescope to be built in Tübingen because thatís where he wanted to live.

Heeschen:

Oh, in Tübingen.

Kellermann:

Ok, but if you donít know about it. Anyway you said what you thought was the best thing you did as director, now if you had to do it all over again...

Heeschen:

The worst?

Kellermann:

Yeah. What would you do differently?

Heeschen:

Ken, these are hard questions. I better come up with something, hadnít I?

Bouton:

Maybe you had no regrets.

Kellermann:

Aside from hiring me or...

Heeschen:

What would I do differently? I donít know.

Heeschen:

I donít know. What should I have done differently, Dave?

Kellermann:

To be more general, what should NRAO have done differently, if anything?

Hogg:

Well I think that the main arc was about as good as you could do. That is it was established as a national observatory. It did have the Open Skies. It built one of the premier astronomical telescopes in the latter half of the twentieth century. So on the seventh day maybe you need the day off, right? There were certain bumps along the road.

Heeschen:

Sure there were probably a lot of little things I would have done differently but I canít remember them now.

Kellermann:

Dave [Hogg], you almost answered the last question, which was meant for this Dave [Heeschen]. At the height of all this with all the success with the VLA, which you had been working on for ten or more years to get funded and started and everything, and it was finally under construction, you stepped down as director?

Heeschen:

Yeah.

Kellermann:

Can you comment why? Right at the height of everything.

Heeschen:

Well, there wasnít anything left for me to do other than bureaucracy.

Kellermann:

Thatís what Dave just implied, yeah.

Heeschen:

At least, I couldnít imagine myself getting involved anymore in some major new project. And the Observatory was 350 people or something like that and it was a big bureaucracy. And I wasnít having fun anymore. So what was the point of staying on?

Kellermann:

Was dealing with the NSF getting harder?

Heeschen:

Yeah. I donít know if it was getting harder or not. It was fun when you talked directly to Alan Waterman. He was nice guy and Randy Robertson was a nice guy. But later on it was less fun.

Kellermann:

Later on it was Bill Howard.

Heeschen:

Well yeah, it was Bill Howard. I canít comment about these things. Bill Howard was ok at the NSF.

End of part 2 of interview.





Note: Part 3 of the Heeschen interview was recorded by Kellermann in late July 2011 during a lunch gathering at a restaurant. Present: Kellermann, Heeschen, Theodore R. Riffe, David E. Hogg, Paul Vanden Bout. Quality of the recording is poor, with a great deal of background noise.

Kellermann:

Do you remember I asked you about hiring all these people from Harvard?

Heeschen:

Yeah.

Kellermann:

And you said that you that you couldnít get anybody else.

Heeschen:

Right.

Kellermann:

And you mentioned Connie Mayer and Ed McClain, but they were relatively senior and they had government jobs.

Heeschen:

Thatís who I wanted though.

Kellermann:

Well, why didnít you think about some of the young people, like at Caltech.

Heeschen:

Like you?

Kellermann:

No, not me. I was really young. But people like Al Moffet, Dick Reed, and Bob Wilson.

Heeschen:

Those guys wouldnít come.

Kellermann:

Because any one of them would have been really valuable.

Heeschen:

Yeah, they would have. I agree with that.

Kellermann:

Did you try?

Heeschen:

No, I did not, but the basis for that statement was, I guess, strictly speaking we were on the east coast. I donít remember the basis other than the guys you just named, Connie and Ed McClain.

Kellermann:

Alright, we will turn to something else. We were talking about the 140 foot and all the problems. Youíve written and said that AUI didnít have much management experience.

Heeschen:

Yeah.

Kellermann:

What about Brookhaven?

Heeschen:

They didnít manage Brookhaven. AUI consisted of the President who wanted to run all over the world doing great things for science, and thatís it.

Kellermann:

But they did at least officially manage Brookhaven.

Heeschen:

Well, they had a Board of Trustees.

Kellermann:

Ok so it was really run by the Director?

Heeschen:

Thatís right. And the Trustees had some influence over Brookhaven. In fact they had a lot.

Kellermann:

Thatís what I figured.

Riffe:

All the officers other than Berkner were at Brookhaven, [Lewis R.] Burchill, [Charles F.] Dunbar...

Hogg:

When Brookhaven had a contract to make a new instrument of some kind, it was all done by the Brookhaven staff. They would be the contract managers.

Heeschen:

Oh sure. AUI didnít have anything along those lines.

Kellermann:

That explains it.

Heeschen:

AUI consisted of the President and Dick Emberson, who was Assistant to the President, and a couple of secretaries. And that was AUI.

Kellermann:

Before Berkner came there wasnít even a full-time President. Berkner was the first full-time President. He came in '51 and before that, as you said, there was only the Board.

Heeschen:

Well there wasnít very much before that.

Kellermann:

Well there was Brookhaven starting in '47 I think. [Note added 2014: Brookhaven started in 1946.] That does explain it.

Riffe:

Brookhaven and AUI were like NRAO and AUI right now.

Kellermann:

Yeah.

Riffe:

Isnít that right?

Kellermann:

I donít know.

Heeschen:

I donít know either.

Vanden Bout:

: I donít want to get started on AUI.

Kellermann:

Thatís gets us to the Greenstein Committee and Iím a little confused during the negotiations or after the radio panel had done itís work, did you take one or two trips? I think you talked separately about going to PSAC, and then going to see Ed David. Those are separate trips?

Heeschen:

Yes, those are separate.

Kellermann:

Could you go over the chronology of which came first, and which had to do with the Radio Panel and which had to do with the full committee?

Heeschen:

Iím pretty sure that PSAC was during the [Radio Panel?] and specifically the VLA.

Kellermann:

Yeah and who went to that besides you?

Heeschen:

Jesse [Greenstein] went.

Kellermann:

So Jesse went. And that was before the full committee report was issued?

Heeschen:

Yes, and that was because Harvey Brooks or somebody was flexing his muscle and he wanted a report early and I donít know whether or not they put it together. And I went to see Ed David with Marshall Cohen. He came with me.

Kellermann:

And that was afterward?

Heeschen:

And that was later, yeah. That was after the VLA was taken as the first priority of the Greenstein Committee, but I canít remember the timing of these other meetings, with Ed David for example. I think by that time the Greenstein Committee had already committed itself, and thatís why Greenstein went with me.

Kellermann:

Now wait a minute, you said he went with you to the PSAC?

Heeschen:

Yeah, and Marshall Cohen went with me to Ed David. And at the David one I made up my report on the way over but it went very well.

Kellermann:

Obviously. You got the money. You mentioned that Merle Tuve and Berkner didnít get along.

Heeschen:

Yeah, thatís right.

Kellermann:

Why?

Heeschen:

I donít know why. They worked together for a while but...

Kellermann:

Berkner worked for Tuve for a while at DTM.

Heeschen:

Was that what it was?

Kellermann:

Yeah. I mean itís well known that they didnít get along but I thought maybe...

Heeschen:

Iím sure it is.

Kellermann:

But you donít know what it goes back it or anything?

Heeschen:

No, I donít. Merle Tuve was [? let that smolder?] [???].

Kellermann:

Ok. Well those are all the questions. I was going to tell you though because we did talk about this. I said that during the competition for the Observatory both the University of Virginia and University of West Virginia were interested in managing it.

Heeschen:

Yeah, I didnít know that.

Kellermann:

And I went back and looked at my notes. The meeting of the National Science Board in August 1956 when they made the decision for AUI, Darden [Colgate W. Darden, Jr., University of Virginia President] was there representing the University of Virginia and Jesse Beams who was on the physics faculty and then somebody by the name of Stewart [Irvin Stewart], who was President of West Virginia University.

Heeschen:

Jesse Beams, he was a well-known physicist.

Kellermann:

Right. So they were there. Ok, thank you.

End of interview with David S. Heeschen in May and July 2011.

Part 1 of this interview (May 2011) is here.

Modified on Tuesday, 09-Feb-2016 15:51:36 EST by Ellen Bouton, Archivist (Questions or feedback)