Skip to main content

Bacher, Robert F. (Nuclear Physicist)



  • Existence: 1905 - 2004


Background: Caltech Professor of Physics, 1949-1976; Caltech Vice President, 1969-1970; Caltech Provost, 1962-1970; Chairman, Caltech Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy, 1949-1962.
Biographical/Historical Description: Robert Bacher began his career as a faculty member at Cornell, working in the area of nuclear physics. During World War II, he worked first at the radar program at the MIT Radiation Laboratory under Lee DuBridge. In 1943 he moved to Los Alamos to work on the atomic bomb. After the war he was one of the first members of the US Atomic Energy Commission (1946-49). He served on the President's Science Advisory Committee in 1953-55 and 1957-60. Bacher remained a close associate of Lee Dubridge who left MIT in 1946 to become president of Caltech. Bacher held several important administrative posts at Caltech including being the first Provost in Caltech's history. As chairman of the Caltech Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy he shaped the program in high-energy physics, based on the new electron synchrotron. He was responsible for bringing many talented people to Caltech, particularly in elementary particle theory and including Professors Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann. He also initiated the program in radio astronomy with the creation of the Owens Valley Radio Observatory.
Biographical/Historical Collection Notes: Oral History, 1981, 1983. This 215 page oral history is based on 10 interviews and covers many aspects of Bacher's personal and professional life.

Found in 1 Collection or Record: