Education and Universities
Michael was born in Cape Town, South Africa in November, 1928. His early education occurred at the Sea Point Boys School.
University of Cape Town
At the University of Cape Town (UCT), Michael majored in physics and applied mathematics, receiving his bachelor's degree in 1948. He then continued at UCT, finishing a Masters degree (First Class Honours) in 1950. He stayed at UCT for another two years, as a Junior Lecturer in the department.
University of Bristol (England)
In 1952, Michael left Cape Town (by ship!) for the University of Bristol to do his PhD under the guidance of Cecil F. Powell, who had won the Nobel Prize two years prior "for his development of the photographic method of studying nuclear processes and his discoveries regarding mesons made with this method."
It was Michael's experience with this group in particle physics, cosmic rays, and scientific balloons that led him to Washington University in St. Louis in 1956, where he founded the Cosmic Ray group there, seeking to reproduce the research environment of Bristol.
He also made various life-long friends at Bristol, including Arnold Engler (a longtime physics professor at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) and M.G.K. ("Goku") Menon, longtime director of the Tata Institute and science advisor to the Indian government. Arnold was the person who introduced Michael to Jessica (and their resulting wonderful 62+ year marriage), while Goku was a dear friend who came to St. Louis to visit not infrequently during trips to the United States.
[In 1988 the Tata Institute held a special commemmoration of Goku's 60th birthday, including publishing two volumes: "Selected Speeches and Writings of MGK Menon" and "Selected Research Papers of MGK Menon." He sent an inscribed set of these to Michael and Jessica. For the two-page table of contents of the latter volume, four of the early papers were co-authored with Michael, as shown here.]
Michael's full set of publications is found on the CV page on this site, but the front page of the paper shown at right is unusual. First of all it is signed by most of the authors. The authors included Michael, Menon, Powell, Giuseppe "Beppo" Occhialini (for whom the European Space Agency X-Ray satellite BeppoSAX is named), and others. Also notable is the sheer number of authors (35), 20 of whom signed this cover. This was extremely rare in these days (1955) to have this many authors and institutions, and offered a view of papers from nuclear accelerators to come, in terms of ever-growing author lists.
Physics crowd, 1955 Michael is row 2, far right; Arnold Engler is row 2, 2nd from left (crouching), Cecil Powell is back row center with jacket.
Michael, MGK Menon, and Cecil Powell at 1953 ICRC, Bagnères-de-Bigorre, France (this is a detail of the full conference photo.)
Michael and close friend MGK Menon in St. Louis, 1984 (Photo by David Friedlander)
Imperial College, London
Michael was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1962 and chose to spend it as a researcher at Imperial College London.
Years later, he returned there for a sabattical in the fall of 1971. A significant chunk of his first book, The Conduct of Science, published in 1972, was written during this time in England.