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Frank Marble Oral History Interview with Shirley Cohen

 Digital Record
Identifier: 2016-02-17-000111


  • Other: 2016 February 17



An interview in seven sessions, January 1994-April 1995, with Frank E. Marble, Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Professor of Jet Propulsion, Emeritus. Marble discusses his undergraduate and early graduate study at Case School of Applied Science, his work at the NACA Engine Research Lab in Cleveland, where he was in charge of large-engine research project for B-26 bomber, and his arrival at Caltech in 1946 to complete his doctoral degree in 1948. He discusses his graduate students, including Benoit Mandelbrot and Chuang Feng-kan, his colleagues Clark Millikan, Hans Liepmann, Duncan Rannie, and Arthur Erdélyi; and the beginning of his close and enduring friendship with Theodore von Kármán. Recalls his first visit to Europe in 1949, his meeting with Moe Berg in Switzerland, and his appointment that same year as the first new faculty member of Caltech's Jet Propulsion Center, and the group of courses in jet propulsion he developed for the Center. Besides his discussion of his work in combustion in jet-propulsion systems, flame stabilization, and propagation of acoustic waves, the interview contains his recollections of Tsien Hsue-shen and McCarthy-era politics, the army's refusal to renew Tsien's security clearance in 1950 and Dan Kimball's role in the Tsien case, and Tsien's deportation five years later. Recalls his visiting professorship at Cornell University, spring and summer 1956; his involvement with the Advisory Group for Aeronautical Research and Development of NATO; the development of engineering at Caltech; influence of Felix Klein; and Robert Knapp and the Hydrodynamics Lab. Comments on the GALCIT complex; Homer Joe Stewart; Ed Zukoski; and Ann Karagozian, his only female PhD student. Concludes the interview with his work on compressors; development of supersonic transport and jet noise; turbulent flow; vortex-combustion theory; work in the 1980s; "The Marble Problem;" very-high-speed flight; invitation to teach in China (1982) and seeing Tsien and his family again; Lee DuBridge; and the Caltech Flying Club.

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