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Samuel Epstein Oral History Interview with Carol Buge [sound recording], 1985-12-19 - 1986-01-10


Scope and Contents

An interview in three sessions, December 1985 and January 1986, with Samuel Epstein, William E. Leonhard Professor of Geochemistry in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences. Dr. Epstein received his BS (1941) and MS (1942) degrees from the University of Manitoba and his PhD (1944, with Carl Winkler) from McGill University. He became a research fellow at Caltech in 1952 and two years later joined the faculty as an associate professor. He received the Leonhard chair in 1984, retired in 1990, and died on September 17, 2001. In this interview, he discusses growing up in Poland between the two World Wars and immigration to Winnipeg in 1927. Recalls his first interest in science and influence of Alan Newton Campbell at University of Manitoba; graduate work at McGill; meeting European scientists during war work on Canadian Atomic Energy Project. Moves to McMaster University to work with Henry G. Thode on isotopes, using mass spectrometry; thence to the University of Chicago, 1947, to work with Harold Urey on paleotemperatures and Heinz Lowenstam on marine shells. He discusses the advent of geochemistry at Caltech in the early 1950s, with the hiring of Harrison Brown, Clair Patterson, Charles McKinney, Gerald Wasserburg, and himself from the University of Chicago. He describes his isotopic work and the evolution of the geology division, especially under Robert Sharp (1952-1968). Comments on Linus Pauling case and Pauling’s departure from Caltech. The interview concludes with comments on current state of Caltech and reminiscences of his career and colleagues.


  • 1985-12-19 - 1986-01-10


Conditions Governing Access

Released: unrestricted


1 unspecified containers : MEDIUM: Sound recording; FORMAT: Sound cassette: analog; QUANTITY: 1 set (4 cassettes per set)

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Repository Details

Part of the California Institute of Technology Archives and Special Collections Repository

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