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Anderson, Carl David (Physicist)



  • Existence: 1905 - 1991


Background: Nobel Laureate in Physics, 1936; Caltech Professor of Physics, 1933-1976; Caltech Research Fellow, 1930-33; Chairman, Caltech Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy, 1962-70; Caltech alumnus (BS, 1927; PhD, 1930).
Biographical/Historical Description: Discoverer of the positron, the first particle of antimatter shown to exist, Carl Anderson was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics when he was only 31 years old. Anderson was inspired to study physics by an introductory course taught by {Ira Bowen}. During his graduate years at Caltech he worked closely with {Robert Millikan}, who encouraged him to measure the energy of electrons in a cloud chamber. The resulting photographs showed what appeared to be a positively charged electron, eventually named the positron. Its existence was the first confirmation of the concept of antimatter developed by the British physicist Paul Dirac. During World War II Anderson worked on the solid-propellant rocket project headed by {Charles Lauritsen}. Afterward he continued his studies of cosmic radiation documenting new fundamental particles, later known as "strange particles," as well as taking on significant administrative responsibilities at Caltech.
Biographical/Historical Collection Notes: Oral History, 1979. This 128 page oral history is based on eight interviews and covers many aspects of Anderson's personal and professional life.

Papers, 1929-1981. These include class notes, exams and lecture notes dating from the 1920s and 30s; scientific notebooks, mostly from the 1960s; personal and scientific correspondence from the years 1941 to 1979 (mostly 1951-1961); negatives and prints made from 24 original lantern slides, 1931-48; Anderson reprints; and a small amount of miscellaneous material from the 1970s and 80s

Fnding aid is available in the Archives.

Found in 20 Collections and/or Records:

Geiger counter

Identifier: 1980-00002

Interview with Carl Anderson, 1979-01-09 - 1979-02-08

Scope and Contents This wide-ranging 1979 interview in eight sessions with Carl D. Anderson, Board of Trustees Professor of Physics, emeritus and Nobel laureate, begins with his recollections of his undergraduate years at Caltech (1923-1927), and the influence of Arthur Amos Noyes and Ira Sprague Bowen. He recalls courses with Earnest Watson, Morgan Ward, Richard Chace Tolman, J. R. Oppenheimer. He offers his early and ongoing impressions of Robert A. Millikan as chairman of physics division and head of Caltech,...
Dates: 1979-01-09 - 1979-02-08; Publication: 1981

Memorial Service

Identifier: 2002-00024

Memorial Service

Identifier: 1991-00003

Millikan's Time

Identifier: 1999-00018

Millikan's Time

Identifier: 1995-00021