Zorn, Jens on 2020 April 24

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Abstract/Description: In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Jens Zorn, emeritus professor of physics at the University of Michigan. Zorn recounts his early childhood in central Germany. He explains how his family left Germany and emigrated to the U.S. amid the rise of the Nazis because of his familys association with the Communist party. Zorn describes his childhood in New Haven, then Southern California, and then Bloomington, and he explains some of the difficulties of being from a German family during World War II. Zorn discusses his dual interests in the arts and in experimental science, and he recounts his service in the U.S. Navy. He describes his undergraduate experience at Miami University in Ohio, where he was mentored by Ray Edwards and George Arfken. Zorn discusses his research work in Germany before enrolling at Yale to pursue a Ph.D. in physics, and he describes his dissertation research in molecular beams under the direction of Vernon Hughes. Zorn describes the expansive employment opportunities in academic physics in the post-Sputnik era, and he explains his decision to join the faculty at Michigan and how the department was looking to expand its program in optical spectroscopy. He discusses his long term association with the Resonance Group, he describes in detail the work of his many successful graduate students, and he explains why engineering and applied sensibilities always informed his experiments. Zorn discusses his collaborative work at the National Autonomous University in Mexico and why teaching quantum mechanics gave him great pleasure. He describes his longstanding amateur interests in history and sociology, and at the end of the interview, Zorn discusses his current work conveying physics concepts through sculpture.
Subject(s): Arfken, George B. (George Brown), 1922-
Hughes, Vernon W
Zorn, Jens C
Miami University.
United States. Navy
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
University of Michigan
Yale University
Art and science
Molecular beams
Optical spectroscopy
World War, 1939-1945