Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Finding Aid for the H. Victor Neher Papers 1916-1994
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Overview
Table of contents What's This?
The papers of H. Victor Neher (1904-1999), Caltech professor of physics, 1931-1970. Neher was one of Caltech's early PhDs in physics. He belonged to Robert A. Millikan's cosmic-ray research group at Caltech for 20 years and served on the Caltech faculty for over 40. His papers include correspondence, especially with and by Millikan; cosmic-ray data, slides and photographs of apparatus, and expedition journals; reprints; and an autobiography titled "Memories."
Born in 1904 in Kansas, Henry Victor ("Vic") Neher grew up in California's San Joaquin Valley. His mother's family had been early pioneers and owned extensive farmland in California. Neher attended Pomona College (AB in physics, 1926) and began graduate study at Caltech in 1928, receiving his PhD in physics in 1931. He was then invited by Robert A. Millikan (Nobel Prize, physics, 1923) and Ira Bowen to become part of the cosmic-ray research group Millikan was forming, which came to include Carl D. Anderson (Nobel Prize, physics, 1936), Seth Neddermeyer, and William Pickering, who later became director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Beginning in 1922, Millikan and Bowen had begun launching high-atmosphere balloons equipped with instruments to measure the intensity of cosmic rays at various points in North America, from Texas to North Dakota. Neher's first such data-gathering trip took place in 1932 to the high latitudes of Canada, and he, along with Pickering, went with Millikan to India in 1939-1940. The balloon experiments were later transferred to airplanes. In the 1940s and 1950s Neher worked on determining the so-called latitude effect, which aimed to measure the intensity of cosmic radiation as a variant of latitude. In the course of this work he spent considerable time in and developed a love for Greenland and the arctic. It was eventually determined that the density of cosmic-ray bombardment was much greater at the earth's poles than at the equator and that it also varied with the sun's activity. A further outcome of Neher and Millikan's work was confirmation that the earth's magnetic center is 250 miles from its geographic center. Neher was appointed instructor and later professor of physics at Caltech. He retired in 1970.
.75 linear feet
Copyright may not have been assigned to the California Institute of Technology Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Caltech Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the California Institute of Technology Archives as the owner of the physical items and, unless explicitly stated otherwise, is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.
The collection is open for research. Researchers must apply in writing for access.