Abstract

Laboratory notebooks (1948-1953) of Leo Szilard and Aaron Novick. Szilard, a nuclear physicist, biologist and advocate of global arms control, held an appointment (1948-1955) as a professor of biophysics at the Institute of Radiology and Biophysics, University of Chicago, and, with Aaron Novick, he studied bacteria using a device called the chemostat. The materials also include correspondence (1948-1964) between Szilard and Novick and photographs.

Historical Background

Leo Szilard held a halftime appointment (1948-1952) as professor of biophysics at the Institute of Radiology and Biophysics, University of Chicago. Aaron Novick participated in the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago (1943-1946) and later worked as an assistant professor of biophysics (1948-1955) at the Institute. Together they studied bacterial and viral populations under controlled physical and chemical conditions using a device called the chemostat. Novick was interested in the study of mutations and adaptive enzyme formation.

Between November 1949 and June 1950, Szilard arranged a series of meetings of researchers in the Midwest to present research on the genetics and physiology of bacteria and viruses. The participants included S. E. Luria, Joshua Lederberg, A. D. Hershey, S. Spiegelman, and James Watson. The meetings focused on pioneering research which formed the basis of early molecular biology.

In 1954, the Institute of Radiology and Biophysics was dissolved and a joint department of Biophysics and Biochemistry was established. During the reorganization process, Szilard took a leave of absence and accepted a visiting professorship at Brandeis University. Novick left for the Biological Laboratory at Cold Spring Harbor, and later he accepted a position at the Institute of Molecular Biology at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Novick and Szilard continued to correspond until Szilard's death in 1964.

Scope and Content of Collection

The Szilard / Novick Research Files document experiments on bacterial populations performed jointly by Leo Szilard and Aaron Novick at the Institute of Radiology and Biophysics, University of Chicago. The materials are arranged in three series: 1) CORRESPONDENCE, 2) LABORATORY NOTEBOOKS and 3) PHOTOGRAPHS.

SERIES 1: CORRESPONDENCE

The CORRESPONDENCE series contains letters (1948-1964) between Szilard and Novick about the results of experiments using the chemostat, the reorganization of the Institute of Radiology and Biophysics, patents, research projects, and Szilard's interest in nuclear arms control. In addition, there are occasional letters about Szilard and enclosures of Szilard's writings and reports filed with the correspondence. The materials are arranged chronologically.

The CORRESPONDENCE series also documents a series of meetings (1949-1950) Szilard arranged in the Chicago area to present and discuss research on the genetics and physiology of bacteria and viruses. Meeting participants included S. E. Luria, Joshua Lederberg, S. Spiegelman, A. D. Hershey, and James Watson. Novick coordinated travel arrangements and administrative housekeeping for the meetings. The materials are arranged chronologically.

SERIES 2: LABORATORY NOTEBOOKS

The LABORATORY NOTEBOOKS series contains seven bound notebooks (1948-1953) for experiments on bacterial populations using the chemostat.

SERIES 3: PHOTOGRAPHS

The PHOTOGRAPHS series contains images of the chemostat and a program from the Lactose Operon Meeting with Szilard's photograph on the cover.

Related Materials

For more information on Leo Szilard, please see MSS 32, the Leo Szilard Papers, in Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego Library.

CORRESPONDENCE

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Box Folder Oversize
1 1 Szilard / Novick, 1948 - 1954.
1 2 Szilard / Novick, 1956 - 1964.
1 3 Chicago Special Virus Seminar, 1949 - 1950.
Correspondence related to the planning of the seminar.

LABORATORY NOTEBOOKS

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1 4 "S. I. - Jan 48", January 23 - November 18, 1948.
1 5 "Szilard II", November 18, 1948 - April 5, 1949.
Includes diagrams and sketches for the Chemostat.
1 6 "Szilard III", April 5 - June 9, 1949.
1 7 "Novick (Beckmann)", July 14, 1950 - June 3, 1951.
Includes entries by Novick and Szilard.
1 8 "Szilard - 1951 - Febr.-June".
Contains a single entry for 1 March 1951.
1 9 "Novick - October 1951", October 6, 1951 - December 29, 1951.
Contains entries by Novick and Szilard.
1 10 "Jan 52", January 3, 1952 - June 18, 1953.

PHOTOGRAPHS

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Box Folder Oversize
1 11 Chemostat.
1 12 Lactose Operon Meeting - Cold Spring Harbor, New York, 1969.
Abstracts of papers (Novick's copy). Photograph of Leo Szilard on cover.


Finding aid generated: 2014-03-14