2017 Joseph F. Mulligan Memorial Lecture
Presented by Natalie DeNigris
ABSTRACT:The research and experiences of Japanese and Japanese-American physicists during the early to mid 20th century is often overlooked in the course of American studies. This presentation examines the life and research of two of these physicists within the context of World War II. Dr. Charles Asawa was a Japanese-American physicist who helped develop the ruby laser with Dr. Theodore Maiman in the late 1950s. During World War II, he was interned at the Rohwer War Relocation Center in Arkansas. In comparison to Dr. Asawa, Dr. Yoshio Nishina, known as the ‘Father of Modern Physics in Japan’, was already an established physicist during WWII. He is credited with co-authoring the Klein-Nishina formula, developing Japan’s cyclotrons, and integrating Japan into Western physics research, each of which this presentation will explore. I examine the lives and research of both physicists across three periods, before, during, and after the war, with the main focus being on the war’s impact on each of their work. I hope that presenting the experiences and research accomplishments of both men, in spite of numerous setbacks, can inspire physicists to advocate for better inclusion of underrepresented groups in their field.