Interview with Lewis W. Cochran, February 12, 1985

Project: University of Kentucky Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

In this interview, Lewis W. Cochran talks about events on the University of Kentucky campus after World War II. He states that physics faculty began work on redeveloping physics research at UK, and remembers scientists who came from Oak Ridge to use UK's accelerator for their work on a nuclear-powered airplane. Cochran recalls some hazardous activities that he participated in without knowing the dangers. He describes his research on fast neurons and the funding for a nuclear accelerator that was bought in 1969 or 1970. He discusses attempts to start a nuclear engineering program and the program's ultimate failure. Cochran describes the lack of research on UK's campus at the time, but does note the research of historian Thomas D. Clark, Grant C. Knight of the English department, and William S. Webb and William D. Funkhouser in archeology. Cochran states that good graduate students were often encouraged to attend stronger research universities to complete their graduate work. Cochran discusses the nuclear industry in general and its safety record. He remembers early accidents that he heard about through his friends at Oak Ridge. He states that nuclear energy can be safe if it is produced and used correctly. Cochran completed his Ph.D. in 1952 and was offered a faculty position at Auburn University and a research position at MIT. Yet, he decided to stay at UK, because he enjoyed teaching and his family and friends were close. He discusses the transition to becoming a new professor and being appointed to the Board of Directors of the Research Foundation. Cochran went to Oak Ridge in 1949 to work on neuron activation studies and he describes his research to capture a cross section of gold and measuring the polarization of a cross section of a neuron. Cochran describes his relationships with other UK professors and explains the role of The Research Club. In 1956, he became Acting Head of UK's Physics Department and discusses how he came to take this position. Cochran also describes the design and the construction of the new Chemistry-Physics Building in the early 1960s. He discusses how the design largely follows that of the 4500 Building at Oak Ridge.

Interview Accession

1985oh036_af196

Interviewee Name

Lewis W. Cochran

Interviewer Name

Terry L. Birdwhistell

Interview Date

1985-02-12

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

Interview Usage

Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Cochran, Lewis W. Interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. 12 Feb. 1985. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Cochran, L.W. (1985, February 12). Interview by T. L. Birdwhistell. University of Kentucky Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Cochran, Lewis W., interview by Terry L. Birdwhistell. February 12, 1985, University of Kentucky Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt7d7w676b91