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Oral History
Thomas A. Tombrello Oral History Interview on LIGO with Shirley K. Cohen [sound recording]

This interview is part of the LIGO Interviews, Series I
Interview, December 2, 1998, with Thomas A. Tombrello, then chairman of the Division of Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy. Recalls arriving at Caltech in 1961 as postdoc with Tommy Lauritsen. Early work at Caltech on gravitational-wave detectors. Role of Kip S. Thorne, James Mercereau. 1976 committee to pursue gravitational-wave work. Arrival of Ronald W. P. Drever. MIT involvement under Rainer Weiss. Hiring of Frederick Raab and Jeff Kimble. Tombrello proposes Rochus (Robbie) Vogt as LIGO head, 1987; his relationship with Vogt. Vogt's dismissal as provost 1987 and lobbying effort for LIGO in Washington. Problems with Drever. LIGO's growing pains, late 1980s, early 1990s. President Thomas Everhart's lack of involvement. Vogt's difficulties leading an expanding LIGO. Formation of LIGO Oversight Committee under Lew Allen. National Science Foundation's involvement. NSF meeting January 1994 and dismissal of Vogt as director. Barry Barish becomes director. Earlier mishandling of Drever affair by Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee. Discussion of bad feelings on campus and within project. Current promising outlook under Barish. How LIGO project is viewed at Caltech and at MIT. Raab's tenure problems. Tombrello as tenure committee head; role of Kenneth Libbrecht. Raab as Hanford site manager. LIGO's prospects. Fallout from dismissal of Vogt and Drever in early 1990s. Comments on new Caltech president David Baltimore, and on former presidents Marvin L. Goldberger and Harold Brown and former geology division chairman Robert Sharp. Comments on reengineering project begun under Everhart.

ID: 1998-00311
Tombrello, Thomas Anthony (Physicist)

Creation Dec. 2, 1998

MEDIUM: Sound recording; FORMAT: Sound cassette: analog; QUANTITY: 1 set (1 cassette per set)

Topics: LIGO

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