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Turner, Edwin Lewis
Oral history interview with Edwin Turner, 1988 February 15.
Edwin Turner discusses his childhood experiences looking up at the stars; background of parents; encouragement and support of parents; early interest in science fiction and in history; childhood fascination with the scale of the universe; education at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); influence of Philip Morrison and Irwin Shapiro at MIT; preference for an open universe; dislike of missing mass that is invisible; scientific interests at MIT; graduate education at California Institute of Technology (Caltech); influence of Wallace Sargent; dislike of problem-set approach to education at Caltech; thesis work on dynamics of binary galaxies; influence of Ostriker-Peebles-Yahil work on dark matter and massive haloes in galaxies on Turner's observational thesis to measure masses of galaxies; interaction with Allan Sandage on philosophy of experimental science; Turner's surprise at finding dark matter in galaxies; community reaction to dark matter in 1975; continued belief in an open universe despite dark matter; history of N-body work on structure formation and correlation functions: influence of lecture by James Peebles, history of collaboration with Richard Gott and Sverre Aarseth; inability to measure omega by comparing N-body simulations with observations; reaction to inflationary universe model; reasons why the inflationary universe model has been so popular; Turner's reservations about the model; doing scientific projects because they can be done; introduction to and attitude toward the flatness problem; change in attitude after inflationary universe model; surprise at de Lapparent, Geller, and Huchra's results on large-scale inhomogeneities and its evidence for unknown processes: irrelevance of earlier work on correlation functions and lessening of Turner's expectations for what can be accomplished in cosmology; fear that cosmologists are heading in the wrong direction and underestimating the complexity of reality; use of imagery in science; interplay of theory and observation in cosmology and the divergence of the two; worry that we may have several untestable scenarios for the early universe; possible inability to reconstruct the history of the early universe; ideal design of the universe and desire for a rich and accessible universe; question of whether the universe has a point.
(1949- ): PhD in astronomy, California Institute of Technology (Caltech) (1975); work as a research fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study, and an assistant professoryship of astronomy at Harvard College Observatory; professor of astrophysics at the Princeton University Observatory. Research interests have included galaxies and clusters of galaxies, quasars and active galactic nuclei, the cosmic x-ray background, image processing, gravitational lenses, and statistical techniques.
Aarseth, S. J.
Geller, Margaret J.
Huchra, John P.
Morrison, Philip
Ostriker, J. P.
Peebles, P. J. E. (Phillip James Edwin)
Sandage, Allan
Sargent, Wallace Leslie William, 1935-2012-
Shapiro, Irwin I.
Turner, Edwin Lewis
California Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dark matter (Astronomy)
Inflationary universe.
Large scale structure (Astronomy)
Interviews. aat
Oral histories. aat
Transcripts. aat
Lightman, Alan P., 1948-, interviewer.
American Institute of Physics. Niels Bohr Library & Archives. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA